No Greater Love: The Story of Flight 93; Various people talk about loved ones, and final phone conversations with them, before crash of United Flight 93 on 9/11
NO GREATER LOVE: THE STORY OF FLIGHT 93
Announcer: From our studios in Rockefeller Center, here is Jane Pauley.
JANE PAULEY: Good evening. Long before modern communications, people commemorated their histories through storytelling. "Remember the Alamo," for instance, was a command to tell and retell the story of a battle in which the heroes were all killed. In the last year, we've been able to tell the stories of only a small fraction of the people touched by September 11th, because we can never know what really happened. But we are able to piece together the story of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It's been a source of strength and comfort. We know much more now than we did a year ago. But nothing changes the conclusion that those men and women died fighting a battle that almost certainly prevented a much larger tragedy.
(Voiceover) It was a breathtakingly beautiful morning. Clear blue skies greeted travelers arriving at Newark Airport's Terminal A. Passengers at Gate 17 might have been especially pleased to find that United Flight 93, with 182 seats, was mostly empty. With only 37 passengers, there'd be plenty of room to stretch out on a long trip. And there were some big guys, like Mark Bingham, a rugby player.
(Plane flying; airport road signs; empty plane; photo of Mark Bingham)
Unidentified Woman #1: He is powerful. He's 6'5". A big, physically-fit guy.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Jeremy Glick was another six-footer, a very big, big brother.
(Photo of Jeremy and Lyz Glick)
Unidentified Woman #2: He was like a giant teddy bear. You just fell into his arms, and you wanted to stay there forever.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Lou Nacke was a weight lifter. At 5'9", he was 190 pounds of muscle, and had a Superman tattoo on his shoulder.
(Photo of Lou Nacke)
Unidentified Woman #3: When he was a little boy, he loved Superman. And he'd actually had a cape on and went through a glass window, pretending to be Superman.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Boarding the plane, they all looked like ordinary people, but soon they'd all need to be super men and superw omen. Most likely, the oldest passenger was the first to arrive that morning. Seventy-nine-year-old Hilda Marcin was moving cross-country to live with her daughter in California. She was packed and ready to leave at 4:30 AM. There were two couples: Donald and Jean Peterson and Linda Gronlund and Joseph Deluca. Pat Cushing was a nervous flyer. She and her sister-in-law, Jane Folger, were going to see the wine country. As the COO of a medical technology firm, Tom Burnett traveled constantly. So much, his wife Deena told Maria Shriver, of course he'd marry a flight attendant.
(People boarding plane; airport employee processing ticket; photos of Hilda Marcin; people boarding plane; photo of Donald and Jean Peterson; photos of Linda Gronlund and Joseph Deluca; photo of Pat Cushing and Jane Folger; photo of Tom Burnett; Deena Burnett talking to reporter)
Ms. DEENA BURNETT: I had just finished flight-attendant training. Several of us had, and we were going out to celebrate. And my roommate was talking to this man who was sitting there. And she introduced him to me. And, of course, it was Tom.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) The pilot, Captain Jason Dahl, had something in common with many of his passengers. He hadn't been scheduled for this flight, but was trying to get in extra hours so he could take time off for his anniversary. Twenty-year-old Nicole Miller was going home after a spur-of-the-moment weekend to see her close friend Ryan Brown's family back east.
(Photo of Jason Dahl; pilot in cockpit; photo of Nicole Miller; photo of Miller and Ryan Brown; photo of Miller)
Mr. RYAN BROWN: We had a great, great, great time. And she was so happy and so excited to be--to see these things, and to be in New York, have a chance to visit the family that she hasn't really met.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Booking a flight at the last minute, she couldn't get a seat on his flight, but Flight 93 was wide open. A toy company manager, Lou Nacke only booked his seat the night before. He had a customer on the coast with an inventory problem and offered to fly out first thing Tuesday morning to fix it.
(Photo of Miller; people passing tickets; people boarding plane; photo of Lou Nacke and his wife)
Unidentified Man #1: He was debating whether to send a subordinate, or--but in the end, he said, 'You know, it's my responsibility. I'd better go.'
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Environmental lawyer Alan Beaven, 48 years old, with a five-year-old daughter and two grown sons, was racing to California to repair the damage when a settlement deal collapsed. Lauren Grandcolas was traveling from her grandmother's funeral, but she had reason to be happy. After years of trying, she was pregnant with her first child and was about to write a book.
(Photo of Alan Beaven; photo of Beaven and daughter; people in air port; photos of Lauren Grandcolas and Jack)
Mr. JACK GRANDCOLAS: She actually had a publisher interested. It was a book to give women guidance on how they could learn new things in life that would bring them greater self-esteem, courage and self-confidence.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Her husband, Jack, was still asleep when she called to leave a message just before 5 California time. Good news, she got a standby seat on an earlier flight, Flight 93. Todd Beamer wasn't normally one to wait until the last minute to fly out for a same-day company meeting, his wife, Lisa, told Stone Phillips. But he did this time.
(Photo of Lauren and Jack; busy airport ticket counter; photo of Todd and Lisa Beamer; Lisa talking to reporter)
Ms. LISA BEAMER: He and I had just gotten back from Italy Monday afternoon, and he decided he wanted to spend some time with the kids that night and have a little more time before he flew out. So he decided to try to crunch his travel in in the morning.
STONE PHILLIPS reporting: That's the kind of father he was.
Ms. BEAMER: Yeah, that's a true--a true picture right there.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Jeremy Glick was a brand-new father. His wife, Lyz, had taken their three-month-old baby, Emmy, to her parents' home while he was away on business. He was supposed to leave Monday night, but there were problems at the airport.
(People boarding plane; photo of Jeremy Glick and family; photo of Jeremy and Emmy; emergency workers at airport)
Unidentified Reporter: (From TV news show) For much of the day flights were behind schedule at Newark Airport, not because of weather, because of fire.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) He decided to wait till Tuesday morning.
(Emergency workers at airport)
Ms. LYZ GLICK: His flight had been rerouted to Kennedy, he had said, and he didn't feel like getting in to California at 3 in the morning. So he figured he would go home and get a good night's sleep and just catch the first one out.
PAULEY: Do you believe in fate?
Ms. GLICK: I do.
PAULEY: Do you believe your husband was fated to be on that plane?
Ms. GLICK: I do. I--I believe that. I believe that Jeremy was meant for a higher purpose.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) At 7:55, One last passenger came rushing down the gangway. That was Mark Bingham. He'd overslept. Bingham made a quick call before the plane backed away from the gate to tell the man he'd just started dating, luckily, he'd made the flight.
Four other passengers in the first-class cabin had not picked this flight at the last minute. They'd been casing flights for months, and their destination was not California.
The plane pulled back from the gate at 8:01, only one minute behind schedule. At Boston's Logan Airport, American Flight 11 had already taken off at 7:58 with United Flight 175 close behind. It was part of a carefully timed plan--four planes, including American Flight 77, departing Dulles at 8:15. But in all their planning, the terrorists hadn't factored in a departure delay. Flight 93 had left the gate on time, but due to heavy runway traffic at Newark Airport that morning, it took off 42 minutes late. That runway delay gave passengers on Flight 93 the time to see that this was a suicide mission and the chance to thwart it. Minutes after takeoff, Claudette Greene got a call.
(Gangway; photo of Mark Bingham; photos of four terrorists; plane taxiing on runway; planes on runway; plane flying; planes lined up on runway; plane taking off; empty plane; view from plane window)
Ms. CLAUDETTE GREENE: My sister-in-law, Bonnie, Don's sister, called me, I guess it was just before 9:00, and said, 'Is your television on? You can't believe what's going on.'
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Greene's husband, Don, was flying to california that morning to meet his brothers for a camping trip. She feared the worst.
(Photo of Don Greene)
Ms. GREENE: But I remember feeling enormous relief when I heard "American Airlines," because I knew he was on United Airlines. And I sort of put it out of my head.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) At that moment aboard United Flight 93, only the four terrorists knew what was about to happen. But they didn't know how it would end.
(Passengers on board airplane)
Announcer: When we return, the passengers of Flight 93 realize they're going to have to take matters into their own hands.
Ms. BURNETT: I told him I had called the authorities. He said, 'We can't wait for the authorities. We have to do something.'
Announcer: When No Greater Love: The Story of Flight 93 continues.
Announcer: No Greater Love: The Story of Flight 93, tonight's DATELINE Special, will continue after this brief message.
Announcer: No Greater Love: The Story of Flight 93, tonight's DATELINE Special, continues.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) New York City was under attack. Lower Manhattan was near panic. But Flight 93 was cruising comfortably at 35,000 feet. Passengers might have pulled down window shades against the glare of the morning sun. At least one of the four young Middle-Eastern men in first class was carrying a knife hidden in a cigarette lighter, and also a copy of a letter.
(World Trade Center burning; people in street near World Trade Center; plane flying; view from window; photos of terrorists; empty plane; letter)
Mr. JOHN ASHCROFT: (From file footage) It is a disturbing and shocking view into the mind-set of these terrorists. The letter provides instructions to the terrorists to be carried out both prior and during their terrorist attacks.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) If they followed instructions, the night of September 10th they each shaved their bodies, read the Koran, gathered their weapons, and before they stepped on the plane, they were to pray.
(Letter; translated excerpts from letter)
Mr. AHMED ALHAZNAWI: (From video, foreign language spoken)
PAULEY: (Voiceover) A videotape released last spring included a message one of them, Ahmed Alhaznawi, had recorded at least six months before the flight, saying his death would send the message that it was "time to kill the Americans in their homeland." Twenty-seven-year-old Lebanese Ziad Jarrahi seems to have been the leader. A licensed pilot, he'd taken lessons at a Florida flying school and self-defense classes at a gym.
(Excerpt shown from video; photo of Ziad Jarrah; flying school; self-defense instructor)
Unidentified Man #2: He told me that he traveled a lot, and that he was always interested in martial arts, and if anything happened, he needed to--to defend himself or know as much about it, what could I teach him?
PAULEY: (Voiceover) His written instructions said to scream "Allahu akbar"--Arabic for "God is great"--because this was sure to terrify everyone. It was just before 6:30 in the morning in San Francisco when Deena Burnett's phone rang. Her husband, Tom, was calling from a cell phone from his seat in first class.
(Photo of Jarrahi; letter and translated excerpts from letter; photo of Tom and Deena; Deena talking to reporter)
Ms. BURNETT: I asked him immediately if he was OK, and he said no. He said 'I'm on the airplane, United Flight 93, and it's been hijacked.'
(Voiceover) And he said, 'Please call the authorities,' and he hung up.
(Photo of Tom)
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Deena immediately called 911.
(Photo of Tom)
Ms. BURNETT: (From 911 tape) They just called me from the airplane, United Airlines Flight 93...
911 Operator: (From 911 tape) Uh-huh.
Ms. BURNETT: (From 911 tape) ...to let the authorities know the plane has been hijacked. They've just knifed a passenger.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Two hijackers were soon at the cockpit door.
Mr. GREG FEITH: It's reasonable to assume that most likely, they forced their way in.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Aviation consultant and pilot Greg Feith was an investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board for 22 years, though he's not working on the Flight 93 investigation.
Mr. FEITH: Anybody coming into the cockpit from behind is basically in a control position, because they have freedom of movement that the flight crew doesn't have.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) The air-traffic control center in Cleveland was already on the edge of chaos after the attack in New York. Towers all over the country were frantically trying to account for every plane in their airspace. Nobody knew how many more planes had been hijacked. Suddenly, Flight 93's transponder, which sends controllers a radar signal with identifying information, was switched off. That got Cleveland center's attention.
(Air traffic control center; plane wing; radar; cockpit)
President GEORGE W. BUSH: Today, we've had a national tragedy. Two airplanes have just collided into the World Trade Center.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) It was just after 9:30. As the president was appearing before cameras in Florida, Cleveland air-traffic controllers were hearing an American voice aboard Flight 93 yell, 'Get out of here!' Perhaps it was Captain Dahl or his copilot, Leroy Homer.
(George W. Bush at Florida elementary school; cockpit instruments; photo of Dahl; photo of Leroy Homer)
Mr. FEITH: Someone had keyed a mike. But they had an open microphone when all this commotion was going on.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Then Cleveland heard screaming. Investigators can only speculate whether it was Dahl and Homer fighting to defend the aircraft, or being murdered. But at 9:32 AM, a chilling radio transmission intended for the passengers.
Unidentified Hijacker: (From tape) Ladies and gentlemen, here it's the captain, please sit down. Keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb aboard.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) One of the hijackers had a red box tied around his waist which he said was a bomb. Controllers tried repeatedly to raise Flight 93 with no reply.
Unidentified Controller: (From tape) United 93, verify your flight level as three, five zero. United 93, Cleveland. United 93, Cleveland. United 93, if you hear Cleveland Center, identify please.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) The remaining passengers and crew were divided in two groups: 10 in the first-class section, 27 were moved to the back of coach. They started making dozens of phone calls--so many, there's been speculation the terrorists encouraged it to ramp up the terror. Jeremy Glick called his wife, Lyz.
(Empty plane; cell phone; photo of Jeremy and Lyz)
PAULEY: So he was free to talk with you? Or was he trying to speak to you surreptitiously?
Ms. GLICK: He was free to talk to me. I was a little bit, I think, surprised by, you know, the--the air of what, you know, the aura of what was going on on--on the plane. I had--I was surprised by how calm it seemed in the background. There was...
PAULEY: You didn't hear...
Ms. GLICK: I didn't hear any screaming. I didn't hear any noises. I didn't hear any commotion.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) At 9:36, air-traffic controllers, watching radar screens, saw Flight 93 make a hard left turn, veering sharply off course. Passengers felt the plane banking steeply. It was now heading southeast. Two minutes later, Cleveland control picked up another bizarre transmission from one of two hijackers now locked in the cockpit.
(Control tower; computer graphic of plane's flight direction; control tower antennae)
Unidentified Hijacker #2: (From tape) Hi, this is the captain. We'd like you all to remain seated. There is a bomb aboard, and we are going to turn back to the airport. And they have our demands, so please remain quiet.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) What else but sheer terror could the passengers have been feeling? Marion Britton, a 53-year-old manager for the Census Bureau, called an old friend, Fred Fiumano, in a panic.
(Passengers on plane; photo of Marion Britton)
Mr. FRED FIUMANO: She said, 'We're going to--they're going to kill us,' you know, 'We're going to die.' And I told her, 'Don't worry, they're taking you for a ride.' And you--OK, 'Let's see.' She said, 'Well, that's the same.' And I said, 'No, way. They hijack the plane, they're going to take you for a ride. You go to their country, and you come back. You stay there for vacation.' You know, you don't know what to say. What are you going to say? I kept on saying the same things. I said, 'Be calm.' And she was crying and, you know, more or less crying and screaming and yelling.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) But ominous news had been circulating among the passengers when Tom Burnett made a second call to his wife.
(Inside plane; GTE Airfone)
Ms. BURNETT: He asked me about the World Trade Center. He asked if it was a passenger airline, and I told him I didn't know. And he said, 'OK,' and he hung up again, said that he had to go.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) At 9:43, The Pentagon was hit. The FAA ordered all airborne planes to the ground, but Flight 93 maintained an erratic course for Washington, DC. Two minutes later, Todd Beamer picked up an onboard airphone and dialed "0." He was connected with GTE supervisor Lisa Jefferson, who told Stone Phillips about the call.
(Pentagon burning; airplanes at airport; airplane flying; Washington, DC; GTE Airfone; button on phone; operator)
Ms. LISA JEFFERSON: I asked his name. He told me, "Todd Beamer." He's from Cranbury, New Jersey. And at that point, his voice went up a little bit because he said, 'We're going down. We're going down. No wait, we're coming back up. We're turning around. We're going north. We're going north. At this point, I don't know where we're going. I don't know. I really don't know. Oh, Jesus, please help us.'
PHILLIPS: Those were all his words?
Ms. JEFFERSON: Yes. Then he told me, he said, 'In case I don't make it through this, would you please do me a favor and call my wife and my family and let them know how much I love them.' So I told him I would.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Tom Burnett called Deena a third time.
Ms. BURNETT: I said, 'Tom, they just hit the Pentagon.' He said, 'OK. OK.' I told him I had called the authorities. He said, 'We can't wait for the authorities. We have to do something.'
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Think about that. In less than a half hour, more than three dozen individuals--complete strangers--were becoming "we."
(View from plane window; empty plane)
Announcer: When we come back, after emotional good-byes to their loved ones, the passengers of Flight 93 prepare to strike.
Unidentified Man #3: At the very end, Elizabeth said, 'Mom, they're getting ready to rush the cockpit. I've got to go. I love you. Bye.'
Announcer: When No Greater Love: The Story of Flight 93 continues.
Announcer: Next week on DATELINE...
Unidentified Man #4: What I saw was the biggest airaft ever bearing down towards me. And I screamed, dropped to the floor and dove under my desk.
Announcer: He was 20 feet from where the plane hit on the day the towers fell and heroes rose.
Unidentified Woman #4: He was really calm. He was really brave.
Announcer: Powerful stories from inside the World Trade Center of Americans caught in catastrophe and America caught unaware.
TOM BROKAW reporting: A lot of people didn't take terrorism very seriously.
Announcer: Why couldn't we stop the terrorists in time?
Woman #4: We have organizations that are supposed to protect us, and now we know that they didn't.
Announcer: The mistakes and missteps that lead to disaster. America Remembers.
And on Wednesday, they watched the friendly skies turn frightening.
Unidentified Man #5: I remember thinking the terror that there must have been in--in the people on that flight.
Announcer: Now for the first time the air traffic controllers in charge of those four planes reveal what they saw and heard that day.
BROKAW: Doomsday scenario, right?
Unidentified Man #6: I was thinking, 'Downtown Manhattan destroyed.'
Announcer: A DATELINE Exclusive. That's next week on DATELINE.
Announcer: We now return to No Greater Love: The Story of Flight 93.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Nine forty-five AM, Flight 93 had been in the air for just over an hour, it's destination no longer California. Radar was tracking a path straight to Washington, DC. The White House, Pentagon and the US Capitol were all being evacuated. If the hijackers had encouraged more than three dozen calls by cell phone or on-board air phones in the seats, they didn't anticipate the consequences. Now the passengers knew they had nothing to lose. Strangers just an hour before were now running through their options. Americans to the end, Jeremy Glick said they were going to take a vote. He wanted his wife's advice.
(Plane flying; White House; women running; people running; cell phones; plane flying; empty plane; photo of Jeremy and Lyz)
Ms. GLICK: You know, 'We're talking about attacking these men. What should I do?' And you know, I was scared about giving him the wrong, you know, information, and I didn't want to do something wrong and have something terrible happen.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) They didn't know that Norad had scrambled fighter jets that, on order of the president, could shoot the plane down. They did know they were running out of time. They were making a plan, and had any number of people willing and able to carry it out. Lou Nacke, a guy with a Superman tattoo on his shoulder, could probably back it up. Mark Bingham once tackled a mugger on a San Francisco street. That summer, he had run with the bulls in Pamplona. Japanese student Toshiya Kuge played American football. He was a linebacker. Richard Guadagno, a US Fish and Wildlife service manager, was trained in hand-to-hand combat. And Jeremy Glick wasn't just another guy in a business suit.
(Fighter jets; empty plane; photo of Nacke; photos of Bingham; photos of Toshiya Kuge; photos of Richard Guadagno; photo of Jeremy)
Unidentified Woman #5: When he was in college, he was the national collegiate junior--judo championship. So he was really strong.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) There were strong women, too. Flight attendant CeeCee Lyles was a former cop.
(Photo of CeeCee Lyles and others)
Mr. LORNE LYLES: CeeCee was a tough one. CeeCee was a very tough cookie. And even when we played and wrestled around, I know she's pretty tough. So I would say that, you know, CeeCee probably had her hands in her own fate.
(Voiceover) Because she always wanted to determine her own fate anyway.
(Photo of CeeCee)
PAULEY: (Voiceover) New York Times reporter Jere Longman spent months investigating the Flight 93 story. In his book, "Among the Heroes," Longman reports that Debby Welsh, the six-foot tall senior flight attendant, had overpowered a drunken passenger once, and shoved him into his seat. Passenger Deora Bodley had been captain of her high school basketball team. And both Lauren Grandcolas and Linda Gronlund were trained emergency medical technicians.
(Jere Longman talking to reporter; book cover; photos of Debby Welsh; photo of Deora Bodley; photos of Lauren and Gronlund)
Mr. JERE LONGMAN: Linda Gronlund had once dislocated her leg, and had set her own kneecap in the driveway while waiting for, you know, the ambulance to arrive.
PAULEY: Among the women, who else would have been known as tough?
Mr. LONGMAN: Well, there was Hilda Marcin.
(Voiceover) Once a man tried to snatch her purse, and she beat him over the head with her umbrella. So she wasn't afraid to stand up for herself.
(Photo of Marcin)
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Neither was 4'6" Colleen Fraser.
(Photos of Colleen Fraser)
Mr. LONGMAN: She had red spiked hair. She once commandeered a paratransit bus and drove it down to Washington to browbeat the senators into passing the Americans with Disabilities act.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Tom Burnett's strength was problem-solving. It was practically a job description for the COO of a medical technology firm. Working the problem is what he did best.
(Photos of Tom)
Ms. BURNETT: He was very busy. He was taking down information, he was planning what they were going to do, and he was not interested in reviewing his life or whispering sweet nothings into the telephone, I assure you. He was problem-solving, and he was going to take care of it and come on home.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Claudette Greene never heard from her husband, Don, at all, and she thinks she knows why.
(Photo of Claudette, Don and children)
Ms. GREENE: I've never actually missed the fact that he didn't call. I think he was busy. I'm convinced he was very busy. He didn't have time to make the call.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Don Greene might have been the answer to the ultimate question: If the pilot and copilot had been killed, what would the passengers have done after they had overpowered the hijackers? An executive in the aviation business, Greene had thousands of hours in a cockpit as a private pilot. He could fly a plane before he could drive a car.
(Photos of Don)
Ms. GREENE: He had the knowledge to fly and land that airplane.
(Voiceover) If there was any way he could get into the cockpit and take over the airplane, I think he would have tried to do that.
(Photo of Don and others)
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Another passenger on the manifest, Andrew Garcia, had experience as an air-traffic controller with the Air National Guard.
The atmosphere in the cabin was tense but quiet, as people readied themselves for whatever lay ahead. Flight attendant Sandy Bradshaw called her husband and said she was getting scalding water ready to throw at the hijackers. Joseph Deluca called his dad. His girlfriend, Linda Gronlund, called her sister, Elsa Strong.
(Plane flying; photo of Andrew Garcia and woman; people on plane; photos of Sandy Bradshaw; photo of Deluca; photo of Gronlund)
Ms. ELSA STRONG: She said 'Hi, Else. This is Lin. I just wanted to tell you how much I love you.' And she said, 'I--I--please tell Mom and Dad how much I love them.' And--and then she got real calm and said, 'Now my will is in my safe and my safe is in my closet. And this is the combination.' And she just told me the combination of her safe. And then she just said, 'I don't know if I'm ever going to get a chance to tell you again in person how much I love you, but I'm really going to miss you.'
(Voiceover) And then she said good-bye.
(Photo of Gronland)
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Lauren Grandcolas left a second message for her husband, Jack. From a voice so composed, he said she might have been calling from a supermarket.
(Photo of Lauren and Jack; answering machine)
Mr. GRANDCOLAS: I heard her say, 'There's a little problem on the plane. I'm totally fine, just a little problem, and I want you to know how much I love you, know that.' Stopping herself from saying, 'I'll call you back,' as if she didn't want to leave a haunting promise, and then mentioning that she was--she was fine and comfortable for now, and that she loved me more than anything, just know that, and that it was just a little problem, as if it was something they were going to take care of, and to tell my family how much I love them and then good-bye.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Then Grandcolas handed her phone to Elizabeth Wainio, the younger woman sitting next to her, and said, 'Call your family.' She called her stepmother, Esther Heyman.
(Photo of Lauren; photo of Elizabeth Wainio; photo of Wainio and Esther Heyman)
Mr. LONGMAN: Elizabeth seemed to be speaking calmly, but her breathing was shallow, as if she were hyperventilating. And Esther said, "Elizabeth, I've got my arms around you, and I'm holding you, and I love you," trying to calm her.
(Voiceover) And Elizabeth said, "I can feel your arms around me. And I love you, too."
(Photo of Wainio)
Mr. LONGMAN: And they talked for, I think, approximately 10 minutes. There were long silences. Esther began to get the feeling that Elizabeth was resigned to what was going to happen to her...
(Voiceover) ...and that--that she actually seemed to be leaving her body, going to a better place.
(Photo of Wainio and man)
Mr. LONGMAN: She had had two grandmothers who were deceased, and at one point she told her mother, 'You know, they're waiting for me.'
PAULEY: (Voiceover) At home in Florida, Lorne Lyles was still asleep. A police officer, he'd worked the night shift. Shortly before 10:00 the telephone woke him up.
(Lorne talking to reporter; photo of CeeCee and others)
Mr. LYLES: And she was like, 'Babe,' you know, 'my plane has been hijacked,' you know? She said, 'They forced their way into the cockpit.' And then she went on to say that--she said, 'Babe, I need for you to tell the kids that I love them and I love you all dearly,' like that. And I went--I--I thought, you know, me just waking up, I thought she was joking, you know? I said, 'Babe, stop joking.' She said, 'No, babe, I'm not joking. I wouldn't call you and play like that.'
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Tom Burnett called home a fourth and final time.
(Wedding photo of Tom and Deena)
Ms. BURNETT: And he said, 'OK, there's a group of us and we're going to do something.' I said, 'No.' I said, 'Please sit down and be still, be quiet, don't draw attention to yourself.' And he said, 'No.' He said, 'If they're going to drive this plane into the ground,' he said, 'we've got to do something.'
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Lyz Glick had begun to see that, too.
Ms. GLICK: And then, you know, I finally just decided, gut instinct, that, 'Honey, you need to do it.' And then, you know, and then he joked. He's like, 'OK, I have my butter knife from breakfast,' you know, which is totally like Jeremy.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) As they both cried, Jeremy took the time to prepare his wife for a life without him.
(Wedding photo of Jeremy and Lyz)
Ms. GLICK: We said I love you a thousand times over and over and over again, and it just brought so much peace to us. And, I mean, it wasn't even the words, I felt, you know, the feeling from it. And you know, he told me to--you know, he said, 'I love Emmy,' who is our daughter, and to take care of her. And then he said, you know, 'Whatever decisions you make in your life, I need you to be happy, and I will respect any decisions that you make.' And--and that's what he said. I think that gives me the most comfort. He sounded strong. He didn't sound panicked. You know, very clear-headed. I told him to just, you know, put a picture of me and Emmy in his head to be strong.
PAULEY: So you were strong for him, as he was strong for you?
Ms. GLICK: Mm-hmm. I mean, neither of us panicked. He to--he knew that he was not going to make it out of there.
PAULEY: And so did you?
Ms. GLICK: Yeah. I had hope.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Several passengers recited the Lord's Prayer together. Todd Beamer was one of them. GTE operator Lisa Jefferson said it along with them.
(Cross on top of church)
Ms. JEFFERSON: After that, he had a sigh in his voice, he took a deep breath.
(Voiceover) He was still holding the phone, but he was not talking to me, he was talking to someone else.
(Photo of Todd, Lisa and children)
Ms. JEFFERSON: And he said, "You ready? OK. Let's roll."
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Flight attendant Sandy Bradshaw told her husband they were all running to first class together. 'I've got to go, bye,' she said and dropped the phone. Elizabeth Wainio ended her call abruptly, too.
(Photo of Bradshaw and family; photo of Wainio)
Mr. LONGMAN: Shortly after 10, Elizabeth said, 'Mom, they're rushing the cockpit. I've got to go. Goodbye.'
PAULEY: (Voiceover) The counterattack had begun.
Announcer: When we return, piecing together exactly what happened when the revolt began.
Mr. LONGMAN: Near the end, you hear, in English, words, "Roll it up" and "Lift it up." The families have taken that as, you know, a sign that the passengers and perhaps crew were trying to regain control of the plane.
Announcer: When No Greater Love: The Story of Flight 93 continues.
KATIE COURIC reporting: Tomorrow on "Today," Charlton Heston's race against time.
(Voiceover) Matt has an exclusive interview. And you're invited to a wedding. Join us for the celebration and find out where you'll be sending our couple for their honeymoon.
(Charlton Heston talking to reporter; wedding invitation; couple kissing; scenes of four possible honeymoon locations)
COURIC: So all that and much more, tomorrow on "Today."
Announcer: Coming up on DATELINE Friday, she was in the fight of her life determined to face the battle with optimism and courage.
Unidentified Woman #6: What they're going to do for me is, I think, incredible.
Announcer: She was the surgeon, whose skill and compassion would guide her through a rare and risky operation with a dramatic difference.
KEITH MORRISON reporting: She'll be totally alert?
Unidentified Doctor: Yes.
Announcer: Two women and their journey to the cutting edge of medicine. Against All Odds, a DATELINE Special.
And next, the passengers of Flight 93 make their move and close in on the terrorists.
Mr. LONGMAN: They're obviously threatened, and feel threatened. And at one point, one of the hijackers suggests shutting off the oxygen supply to the cabin.
Announcer: When No Greater Love: The Story of Flight 93 continues after this brief message.
Announcer: And now the conclusion to No Greater Love: The Story of Flight 93.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Television worldwide was broadcasting the news of a terror attack on New York City. Now the Pentagon was burning, too. But terrorists had chosen another target. Those plans were about to be thwarted. At 10:00, a counterattack had begun. Jeremy Glick interrupted his 26-minute call to his wife, Lyz. "Hold the line," he said, "I'll be back," but she couldn't bear to listen and handed the phone to her father, Richard Makely.
(World Trade Center burning; Pentagon burning; plane flying; passengers on plane; empty plane; photos of Jeremy and Lyz)
Mr. RICHARD MAKELY: There was no noise for several minutes. And then there was some screams, some screams in the background. And so I said, "well, they're--they're doing it."
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Lorne Lyles was still holding the phone, too.
Mr. LYLES: And then I--you know, I hear commotion in the background, and then, you know, I didn't know what to think. I just--honestly, I didn't know what to think. I didn't know what to think had happened. All I know, I got disconnected. And I got disconnected with her screaming.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) After Todd Beamer's signal, people in the back of the plane started running forward. The way a Boeing 757 is configured, with one narrow aisle running up the center, they would had to have charged single file. Based on interviews with investigators and family members who heard the cockpit voice recorder tapes last spring, New York Times reporter Jere Longman can reconstruct the scene.
(Photo of Todd Beamer; empty plane; Longman talking to reporter)
Mr. LONGMAN: The government's theory is that the passengers did actually reach the cockpit using a food cart as a battering ram and a shield.
PAULEY: Why do they think that?
Mr. LONGMAN: Well, from enhancement--digital enhancement of--of the voice recorder, there's the sound of--of plates and glassware crashing near--near the end of the flight.
PAULEY: But one person would had to have to have been behind that cart.
Mr. LONGMAN: It took brave people to--I mean, if--can you imagine if you were that first person in line rushing forward, and--and the curtain was closed in first class, and you had no idea what you would be encountering when you--when you pulled that curtain back? It must--you know, it took a brave person to do that.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Witnesses in rural Pennsylvania saw the plane flying at very low altitude, but at very high speed, making erratic wing maneuvers, rocking back and forth.
(Countryside; plane flying)
Mr. LONGMAN: Some investigators believe that the hijackers were trying to, you know, waggle the wings to keep the passengers from getting forward, to kind of knock them around like bowling pins.
PAULEY: Waggling the wings, then, wouldn't have been necessary unless there had been a threat to the cockpit.
Mr. LONGMAN: Oh, sure. And at one point you can hear, you know, "In the cockpit, in the cockpit," and then someone says something that's unintelligible and kind of garbled, but it's the sense that, 'If we don't do that,' then, quote, "we'll die."
PAULEY: (Voiceover) On the cockpit tape, the hijackers are reportedly heard telling each other to hold the door while someone on the outside shouts, "Let's get them."
(Cockpit; photos of hijackers)
Mr. LONGMAN: During this part, the--the hijackers are also praying. They're...
PAULEY: What is the nature of their praying?
Mr. LONGMAN: Saying, sort of, God--you know, God--they're saying "Allahu--Allahu akbar," 'God is great.'
PAULEY: Is there a sense at this point that the hijackers know that the flight is going to end prematurely?
Mr. LONGMAN: They're obviously threatened, and--and--and feel threatened. And at one point, one of the hijackers suggests shutting off the oxygen supply to the cabin. But, as I understand it, it's a very difficult or impossible thing to do. It wouldn't have any effect on the breathing of the passengers, because they were below 10,000 feet. And then they're--they--the hijackers begin talking about, 'Should we finish'--and on the transcript it says, "finish it/her off."
PAULEY: (Voiceover) It's unclear whether the hijackers are referring to the flight itself, or to an unidentified woman heard pleading for her life earlier on the tape.
(People on plane; cockpit)
Mr. LONGMAN: In the final moments of this struggle, according to the families who heard the tape, that voices that seemed muffled and distant all of a sudden became clearer. They took that as some corroboration that the passengers actually are in--perhaps crew--actually did reach the cockpit.
PAULEY: What do you mean, reach it? Breach it?
Mr. LONGMAN: Get inside.
PAULEY: They got in.
Mr. LONGMAN: Yeah. That's the government--that's the government theory, that they actually got inside. Near the end you hear, in English, words, "Roll it up" and "Lift it up" or "Turn it up" or "Pull it up." The families have taken that as a sign that the passengers and perhaps crew were trying to regain control of the plane.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Lee Purbaugh, a Pennsylvania steel worker, watched the plane go into the ground.
Mr. LEE PURBAUGH: And I heard this loud noise, and I happened to look up. And this jet come right straight over my head. And it was real low, and it probably crashed down, it went nose-to-tail.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) The end came at 10:06 AM in the loose, porous soil of a deserted strip mine in coal country near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. They would come to be proclaimed heroes, but at that moment, they were parents or siblings or wives or husbands. All morning, Lisa Beamer sat anxiously watching television like the wife of a missing seafarer might have scanned the horizon from a widow's walk.
(Aerial view of crash site; rescue workers; photos of passengers; photo of Dahl; photos of Todd and Lisa Beamer)
Ms. BEAMER: When I heard them say that was the United Flight from newark to San Francisco that just went down--and I said, 'That's his flight.' And my friend said, 'No, he might be on a different one. He might not have made it on the plane. He might'--you know, and I said, 'No, I know that's his flight.' And I just said, 'No!'
Ms. BURNETT: There was a policeman at my house that they had they had--they had sent over to stay with me, and he saw it first. And he turned around and he said, 'I think I have bad news for you.' And when he said that, I--I just turned toward the television, I ran to the television, and I said, 'Is this Tom's flight?' He said yes. And I was still holding to the telephone. I held onto the telephone for three hours until the battery ran down.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Tom Burnett left three daughters. The oldest, twins, were only five at the time.
(Home video of Burnett family at Christmas)
Ms. BURNETT: And I sat them on the bed.
(Voiceover) And I told them that--that Dad was not coming home. And Madison asked if she could call him on his cell phone.
(Home video of Tom feeding baby)
Ms. BURNETT: And I told her no, that he didn't have a cell phone in heaven. And Hallie said, 'Well, can the postman take a letter to him?' So they understand, I think, that--that he's not coming home. But they don't understand exactly where he is, or why. And it makes it very difficult.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) At least 20 children lost a parent that day. Claudette Greene, now a widow with two children, took her inspiration from Jackie Kennedy.
(Rescue workers at crash site; phot of Claudette and Don and family; Claudette; video of Jackie Kennedy at funeral)
Ms. GREENE: I remember thinking, 'How does she do that?' Because I had been to the funerals of people weeping and sobbing and falling apart, and I was so impressed with her and the dignity she had.
(Voiceover) And it oc--it hit me that night, it's because she had children. She was there for them.
(Video of Caroline and John F. Kennedy Jr. at funeral)
Ms. GREENE: And I--I have thought about her every day since.
PAULEY: (Voiceover) One day, there will be a permanent national memorial here to the crew and passengers of Flight 93, 40 men and women whose lives intersected for a little over two hours. They barely knew each other, might not have known each other's names, but they gave one another courage and a chance to live or die with dignity. Forty individuals who helped us see the best in ourselves on a very dark day. They'll be remembered in many different ways. Jack Grandcolas dedicated a new birthing room at a California hospital in memory of his wife and their unborn child.
(Memorial at crash site; plaque with names of crew and passengers; people at memorial; Jack next to plaque in hospital; photo of Jack and Lauren)
Mr. GRANDCOLAS: (Speaking at dedication) It will be an honor to Lauren's family and friends to know that her name will always be a part of happy new beginnings. As Lauren would say, 'Don't mourn my passing. No, instead, celebrate my life.'
PAULEY: (Voiceover) Lou Nacke's sister and brothers each got a Superman tattoo like he had. Derrill Bodley took a trip to Afghanistan to try to understand something about why his daughter, Deora, was killed.
The men and women of Flight 93 won't merely be remembered, but remembered as heroes. Forty strangers forever united in a nation's gratitude for what they did. And what was that? Given the choice, they chose to act.
(Photo of Nacke; Derrill Bodley; Derrill in airport; memorial at crash site)
Ms. BEAMER: If there's any beauty in this whole thing that's gone on, it's that there are people out there who are people of character. I mean, I wonder deep in my heart, if I was Todd, what would I have done? Would I have done the same thing as he did? And I think, you know, Todd was an ordinary guy. He was extraordinary to me and to his family, but to the world, he was ordinary. And like any ordinary guy getting on a plane that day in a business suit, he was able to do extraordinary things.
(Names and photos of passengers and crew of United Flight 93) Deborah Welsh Joseph DeLuca
Unidentified Woman #7: From this moment forward, just let there be peace with all of us and love.
(Photos and names) Sandra Bradshaw Linda Gronlund Waleska Martinez Christian Adams Marion Ruth Britton William Cashman Patrick Driscoll Elizabeth Wainio Thomas E. Burnett Jr. Deora Bodley
Unidentified Man #7: I can't look back over the last 11 days and say I have learned anything, but I'm able to tell you that my--our world is better for having her in it.
(Photos and names) Mark Rothenberg LeRoy Wilton Homer Kristin White Gould Donald F. Greene Todd Beamer Georgine Corrigan Edward P. Felt Alan Beaven CeeCee Lyles Louis J. Nacke Lorraine Bay
Ms. LAURA BUSH: And I want each of you today to know that you are not alone. We cannot ease the pain, but this country stands by you. We'll always remember what happened that day and to whom it happened.
(Photos and names) Richard Guadagno Donald Peterson Jean Peterson Wanda A. Green John Talignani Jason Dahl Colleen Fraser Andrew Garcia Lauren Grandcolas Christine Snyder Mark Bingham Patricia Cushing Jane Folger Hilda Marcin Toshiya Kuge Jeremy Glick Nicole Miller
PAULEY: On the morning of September 11th, a memorial service for the Flight 93 victims will be held at the site of the crash near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Later in the day, President Bush will lay a wreath at the site.
For biographies of each of the passengers and crew aboard Flight 93, plus information on the foundation some of their families have created in their honor, logon to our Web site. The address is dateline.msnbc.com.