‘I’m on a hijacked airplane.’ I’m working on a plan. ‘Please inform the children that I will speak with them later.’ The final words of a 9/11 hero to his wife, as his heroic acts, unfolded minute by minute
Mike Rowe pays respect to Tom Burnett, an American hero who died in the 9/11 attacks on United Flight 93, in a Facebook post. The post is remarkable in understanding how one man’s actions may have a huge impact on a nation.
“Tom’s final act on Earth was one of the most heroic imaginable.” And his final words to his wife, Deena, are among the most inspiring I’ve ever heard,” Rowe wrote. “Those precise words can be found at the top and bottom of this page.” They were stated 21 years ago, in the circumstances I hope never to encounter. I’ll never forget Tom’s final words. I hope you will not too.”
Tom’s Last Calls to Deena Transcript:
6:27 a.m. ( pacific time) Tom’s first cell phone call to Deena
6:27 A.M.( Pacific Time) First Cell Phone Call From Tom To Deena
- Deena: Hello
- Tom: Deena
- Deena: Tom, are you O.K.?
- Tom: No, I’m not. I’m on an airplane that has been hijacked.
- Deena: Hijacked?
- Tom: Yes, They just knifed a guy.
- Deena: A passenger?
- Tom: Yes.
- Deena: Where are you? Are you in the air?
- Tom: Yes, yes, listen. Our airplane has been hijacked. It’s United Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco. We are in the air. The hijackers have already knifed a guy, one of them has a gun, they are telling us there is a bomb on board, please call the authorities. He hung up.
6:31 Deena Calls 911
6:34 Tom’s Second Cell Phone Call Came In On Call Waiting
- Deena: Hello
- Tom: They’re in the cockpit. The guy they knifed is dead.
- Deena: He’s dead?
- Tom: Yes. I tried to help him, but I couldn’t get a pulse.
- Deena: Tom, they are hijacking planes all up and down the east coast. They are taking them and hitting designated targets. They’ve already hit both towers of the World Trade Center.
- Tom: They’re talking about crashing this plane. (a pause) Oh my God. It’s a suicide mission…(he then tells people sitting around him)
- Deena: Who are you talking to?
- Tom: My seatmate. Do you know which airline is involved?
- Deena: No, they don’t know if they’re commercial airlines or not. The news reporters are speculating cargo planes, private planes and commercial. No one knows.
- Tom: How many planes are there?
- Deena: They’re not sure, at least three. Maybe more.
- Tom: O.K….O.K….Do you know who is involved?
- Deena: No.
- Tom: We’re turning back toward New York. We’re going back to the World Trade Center. No, wait, we’re turning back the other way. We’re going south.
- Deena: What do you see?
- Tom: Just a minute, I’m looking. I don’t see anything, we’re over a rural area. It’s just fields. I’ve gotta go.
6:45 A.M. Tom’s Third Cell Phone Call To Deena
- Tom: Deena
- Deena: Tom, you’re O.K. (I thought at this point he had just survived the Pentagon plane crash).
- Tom: No, I’m not.
- Deena: They just hit the Pentagon.
- Tom: (tells people sitting around him, “They just hit the Pentagon.”)
- Tom: O.K….O.K. What else can you tell me?
- Deena: They think five airplanes have been hijacked. One is still on the ground. They believe all of them are commercial planes. I haven’t heard them say which airline, but all of them have originated on the east coast.
- Tom: Do you know who is involved?
- Deena: No
- Tom: What is the probability of their having a bomb on board? I don’t think they have one. I think they’re just telling us that for crowd control.
- Deena: A plane can survive a bomb if it’s in the right place.
- Tom: Did you call the authorities?
- Deena: Yes, they didn’t know anything about your plane.
- Tom: They’re talking about crashing this plane into the ground. We have to do something. I’m putting a plan together.
- Deena: Who’s helping you?
- Tom: Different people. Several people. There’s a group of us. Don’t worry. I’ll call you back.
6:54 A.M. Tom’s Fourth Cell Phone Call To Deena
- Deena: Tom?
- Tom: Hi. Anything new?
- Deena: No
- Tom: Where are the kids?
- Deena: They’re fine. They’re sitting at the table having breakfast. They’re asking to talk to you.
- Tom: Tell them I’ll talk to them later.
- Deena: I called your parents. They know your plane has been hijacked.
- Tom: Oh…you shouldn’t have worried them. How are they doing?
- Deena: They’re O.K.. Mary and Martha are with them.
- Tom: Good.
A Long, Quiet Pause
- Tom: We’re waiting until we’re over a rural area. We’re going to take back the aeroplane.
- Deena: No! Sit down, be still, be quiet, and don’t draw attention to yourself! (The exact words taught to me by Delta Airlines Flight Attendant Training).
- Tom: Deena! If they’re going to crash this plane into the ground, we’re going to have to do something!
- Deena: What about the authorities?
- Tom: We can’t wait for the authorities. I don’t know what they could do anyway. It’s up to us. I think we can do it.
- Deena: What do you want me to do?
- Tom: Pray, Deena, just pray.
After A Long Pause
- Deena: I love you.
- Tom: Don’t worry, we’re going to do something…”
Tom Burnett, along with three other passengers, Mark Bingham, Todd Beamer, and Jeremy Glick, created a plan to regain control of the aircraft.
They were directing extra passengers to carry out the plan. As the group assaulted the cockpit, they prevented the terrorists’ attempt to crash the plane into the Capitol Building or the White House.
The cockpit voice recorder captured Burnett shouting, “Roll it!” Possibly referring to using the food and beverage cart. The hijackers then crashed the jet into a Pennsylvania field.
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