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“Let’s Roll”: In memory of the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93

May 2017

In a lonely field in Stoneycreek Township, north of Shanksville, Pensylvania, travelers will find the Flight 93 National Memorial, on the site where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed on 11 September 2001, killing all 40 passengers and crew, along with the four terrorists who hijacked the airplane.

Flight 93 was one of the four passenger airliners hijacked on that infamous late summer day in 2001.

Two of the aircraft, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were flown into the World Trade Center Towers in New York City, while the third one, American Airlines Flight 77, was flown into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

On that fateful day, 2, 997 innocent victims were killed in the airplanes and in the buildings hit, with around 6, 000 injured.

United Flight 93 was scheduled to depart at 0800, but the Boeing 757 did not depart until 42 minutes later due to runway traffic delays.  This time delay played against the terrorists.

By the time the passengers and crew on Flight 93 began contacting family members to advise them of the hijacking using the air phones and their own cell phones, the other three aircraft had crashed into their targets.  Family members were able to pass this information along to the passengers, who quickly realized they were on a suicide mission too.

In his last call to his wife Lisa, passenger Todd Beamer told her that the passengers were going to mount an assault against the hijackers and in an attempt to take back control of the aircraft.

Just before the phone disconnected, Lisa Beamer hear Todd say to his fellow passengers “Let’s roll,” although it has been suggested that this utterance was only part of a sentence where he was talking about rolling the food and beverage carts up to the cockpit door to use as a battering ram.

By the time the South Tower collapsed at 09:59, cockpit voice recordings over the next four minutes capture the sounds of the passengers attack on the cockpit and the reactions of the hijackers flying the aircraft, ending at 10:03:10.

There is some controversy as to whether the passengers managed to breach the cockpit.  The 9/11 Commission Report came to the conclusion that “the hijackers remained at the controls but must have judged that the passengers were only seconds from overcoming them.”

Many of the passengers’ family members who heard the cockpit recordings believe that just before the airplane crashed, the passengers and the hijackers were fighting for control of the yoke and that at least one of the hijackers guarding the cockpit door was killed.

The first phase of the permanent memorial, Crescent of Embrace, designed by Paul and Melena Murdoch, was dedicated on 10 September 2011.

A visitor centre was opened on 10 September 2015, overlooking the crash site from a nearby hill.

The entrance to the memorial is located on U.S. Route 30, the Lincoln Highway.

Lisa Beamer, who gave birth to a daughter Morgan Kay four months after his death, established the Todd M. Beamer Memorial Foundation in honour of her husband.

In 2003, Beamer and co-author Ken Abraham published the book, “Let’s Roll!: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage,about Todd and her grief over his death.

Sources:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Todd_Beamer, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisa_Beamer, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_93_National_Memorial, https://www.nps.gov/flni/index.htm, “We Have Some Planes”, 9/11 Commission Report, National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. 2004, Flight 93 National Memorial – https://www.nps.gov/flni/index.htm.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/lets-roll-in-memory-of-the-passengers-and-crew-of-united-airlines-flight-93/

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