SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

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Compiled by: Jeff Head

LAST UPDATE - 20 June 2008
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As these events were playing out, the President, George W. Bush, was in Sarasota, Florida speaking to an elementary school about his education initiatives. As he was speaking, an aide came up and whispered in his ear regarding the horror being played out in New York City. The President did not show emotion to the children or alarm them. He completed his speech and then, at 9:30 AM, he made a statement regarding the terrible events occurring in New York. He asked everyone to bow their heads in a moment of prayer, and then he indicated he would have to leave and that others in his party would complete the days activities. The President then departs Florida at 9:57 AM on Air Force One for a secure facility.

At 9:40 AM the government through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), took the unprecedented step of halting all private and commercial air traffic in all of the United States. All flights in the air are ordered to land, and the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard are ordered to provide combat air patrols (CAPS) over New York, Washington, DC and many other places in the United States. In addition, both borders with Mexico and Canada are closed.

The World Trade Center in New York City was not the only place attacked by the terrorists. Just before the collapse of the first World Trade Center tower, a report came in from Washington, DC. At 9:43 AM, a huge fireball and fire had struck the Pentagon and now it too was burning furiously. American Airlines Flight 77 had been crashed into the building by terrorists.

Hundreds of people were in that wing of the building when it was struck by this third commandeered aircraft. The aircraft came in low and plowed into the U.S. Army wing of the pentagon, penetrating three rings and collapsing a portion of the building.

Again, given the time of day, given the hundreds of people working in the building at the time, given the sixty-four people on the airplane, it is estimated that close to two hundred people died in the Pentagon attack with close to one hundred others injured.

The terrorists used knives and box cutters to commandeer the three airplanes and then crash them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. They also indicated that they had bombs. GTE Airphone calls from the hijacked aircraft indicated that the terrorists, who numbered between three and six on each aircraft, would take control of the aircraft by taking a stewardess or passenger and either threatening, or actually cutting or stabbing them, and then take control of the aircraft when the crew came out to investigate or negotiate. The terrorists then installed their own pilot and herded passengers and crew to the back of the plane.

A fourth jet had also been hijacked, United Airlines Flight 93, with forty-four ppassengers and crew on board. Somewhere near Cleveland, OH, this aircraft turned around and headed for Washington, DC after having been commandeered by more terrorists. The terrorists indicated to the passengers that they planned to crash it into the capitol building.

On board this aircraft, several passengers, after hearing what was occurring, had the chance to call their loved ones on GTE Airphones and discover the other horrific activities of the day. They discovered that other terrorists actually were crashing airliners loaded with passengers into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Five of the American heroes, Tom Burnett, Jeremy Glick, Linda Gronlund, Todd Beamer and Sandra Bradshaw

Tom Burnett's phone call:

A man named Tom Burnett called his wife in California from the plane. He was the Chief Operating Officer in a small company in Pleasanton, CA. He was the father of three children. Here is what he told his wife (paraphrased).

Our flight has been hijacked. The terrorists have knives and have stabbed someone. They indicate they are going to crash our plane into the capital building in Washington, DC.

I know we're all going to die, but we are going to do something, I love you honey."

Jeremy Glicks Phone call:

Jeremy Glick, traveling on the same flight also called his wife. Jeremy was 6'-2" tall and weighed 220 pounds, he was former college Rugby player and excelled in Judo. Here is what he told his wife (paraphrased):

"Honey, it’s bad news."

"There are some very bad men on the plane. The men have a bomb and they have a knife. They are Arabic-looking men. They are wearing red headbands and there are three of them.".

"We've had no contact with the pilots, but the men have taken over the plane and have moved everyone to the back of the plane and left us here."

"Lyz I need to know something. One of the other passengers has talked to their spouse, and he said that they were crashing other planes into the World Trade Center. Is that true."

[His wife pauses, not knowing what to say, but finally tells him it is true. There is a pause of a few minutes after hearing this.]

"I love Emmy, take care of her. Whatever decisions you make in your life, I need you to be happy, and I will respect any decisions that you make. Now, I need some advice - what to do? Should we, you know, we’re talking about attacking these men, what should I do?"

[His wife pauses for a long while, but finally tells him she thinks he needs to do it, after which there is another puase for a couple of minutes.]

“OK, The others and myself have voted to attack the terrorists. I have my butter knife from breakfast.. You know, I’m going to leave the phone here. Stay on the line, I’ll be back."

[The father in law takes the phone as Jeremy's wife could not bear to listen. There was a few seconds of silence folowed by a scream. More silence followed by another scream ... then ... nothing. Jeremy never came back to the phone.]

Linda Gronlund's Phone Call

One of the women passengers on the plane, Linda Gronlund, was with her boyfriend, Joseph DeLuca. They were flying to California to celebrate Linda's 47th birthday the next day by visiting vineyards. Linda was a lawyer for BMW in Montvale, NJ. She was also a marine chemist, had a brown belt in karate, sailed, was an avid auto mechanic and went scuba diving. From the plane, she called her younger sister, and best friend, Elsa. Here is the paraphrased account of that conversation.

"Elsa, we have been hijacked and we know about the World Trade Center."

"There's not much time. A few of us have voted to do something. They're going to kill us anyway, so we might as well die fighting."

"I need to hurry and tell you where you can find my personal papers ... I don't think I will have any further need of them."

[She then told her sister where those papers were.]

"I love you!"

Todd Beamer's Phone Call

Another man, Todd Beamer made a call and spoke to a GTE supervisor regarding these same events. In that call, Beamer, 32, an Oracle Inc. executive from Hightstown, N.J, told Lisa Jefferson, that he and others on the plane had decided they would not be a part of the hijackers' plans. Jefferson had informed him about the other hijackings. Beamer made her promise to call his wife and their two boys, David, 3, and Andrew, 1 and let them know he loved them. Beamer's call connected at 9:45 a.m. Here is his paraphrased account.

“There are three hijackers, armed with knives. One of the men has what appeares to be a bomb tied to his midsection with a red belt. “

"They have moved most of us to the rear and the man with bomb is nearby. The other two are in the cockpit."

Toward the end of his conversation with Jefferson, Beamer said the plane appeared to have changed directions a few times. Beamer became anxious.

"Oh! We're going down!".

[a pause for a few seconds, then in a calmer voice]

"No, we're OK. I think we're turning around."

“Okay, myself and the others have decided to jump on the hijacker wearing the bomb. I know I'm not going to get out of this.”

[ Shouts and commotion are heard over the phone and then Beamer asked her to pray with him. They recited the 23rd Psalm and the Lord's prayer.]

“Promise you will call my family.” [The GTE phone supervisor relayed Todd's actions to his wife as they were happening]

[Beamer drops the phone, leaving the line open. The last thing Jefferson heard was Beamer saying:]

"God help me. Jesus help me. Are you ready? Let's roll."

Sandra Bradshaw's phone call:

One of the Flight attendants, Sandra Bradshaw, was also involved with the plan to take back the aircraft. Bradshaw, an energetic 38-year-old Greensboro flight attendant, called her husband, Phil, to let him know what was happening. She knew, from other passenger calls, that their plane was now really a guided missile. Here is the paraphrased dialog they had:

"Have you seen what's happening? Have you heard? We've been hijacked."

"The plane has been taken over by three men with knives. I got a close look at one of them sitting in the back row in first class. He has an Islamic look. They've put most of us in the rear of the plane but are keeping a few in first class. We're all back here getting hot water together and getting ready to take over the plane."

"I love you honey. Let Shenan, Alexandria and Nathan know I love them."

[As they spoke, around Sandy, three men were whispering the 23rd Psalm. "The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want..." Then one of the men apparently made the call to charge the hijackers.]

"We're all running to first class, I've got to go. Bye."

Investigators reviewing all of the evidence, including the cockpit recording, are now operating under the premise that the passengers made their way 110 feet from the rear of the plane to the cockpit, taking out the hijacker claiming to have the bomb along the way. They then stormed the cockpit. The last transmissions on the cockpit recording picked up the sounds of a struggle, of the crash of dishes, a man’s voice screaming loudly. The hijackers are heard calling to each other to hold the door. One of the passengers yells, “Let’s get them!” and then more crashing and screaming. One hijacker tells his confederates that the end is near. The hijackers hurriedly talk about finishing off the plane as the intensity of the struggle grows, and at this point the plane begins to dive. One of the hijackers cry out, “God is great!” The cockpit voice recorder picks up more shouting by one of the male passengers. . The hijackers apparently begin to fight among themselves for the controls, demanding, “Give it to me.” ... then silence. ... United Airline Flight 93 had plunged nose first into a field about eighty miles south of Pittsburgh, PA, near Shanksville leaving a crater almost fifty feet deep. Nothing was left except the thousands of small charred pieces of the exploded aircraft for officials to sift through.

Due to the heroic efforts of these few brave Americans, and perhaps due to other causes, that fourth plane never made it to the terrorists intended destination and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of additional lives were spared. In any case, because they did resist and took positive action to fight the terrorists, those passengers are heroes, and represent the true spirit of America when faced with such trials.

A memorial service was held near the site of the crash a few days later. A haystack memorial was set up where those visiting could leave remeberances. Laura Bush, the Fisrt Lady attended with many of the families. The site of the crash should be made a full National Monument in tribute to the courage, determination and bravery of these individuals, and so that all Americans can know of their heroic struggle and sacrifice, and so that we all can remember that liberty has a dear price. A petition to Congress that effect,to establish a National Monument at the Crash site of Flight 93, has been started.


The task of rescuing and recovering is daunting. One fireman interviewed by the major media who arrived at 12 noon and was relieved late that night indicated that the debris field extends for up to five city blocks and is up to one hundred feet deep. There are a few police radio calls and a few cell phone calls coming out of the rubble. Digging through to those people while continuing to fight fires is the utmost challenge to rescue efforts. At the time, there were estimated to be anywhere from several thousand to well over ten thousand victims in that rubble in New York City alone.

The same effort continued at the Pentagon. Fires continued to break out. Rescue efforts were ongoing. It was thought that anywhere from one hundred to eight hundred victims were trapped under the rubble. While these efforts were going on in that wing of the building, the Secretary of Defense and military planners were putting together options and plans for punishing those who had planned and abetted these acts.

At 8:30 PM, after arriving back in Washington, DC at 6:54 PM, the President addressed the country on national TV. He indicated that though our steel and buildings had been damaged and brought down, our spirit and our liberty would not be brought down. He called these act what they were, Acts of War. He indicated that the United States would hunt down and punish all of those responsible. He indicated that those who harbor these perpetrators would be treated no different than those who carried out the acts.

The President then continued meeting with his cabinet and congressional leaders. Cabinet members, including the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State indicated that not only groups, but nations could expect to be retaliated against if they were in any way involved. The congress joined in solidarity behind the President and indicated their full support in finding and punishing these terrorists and rogue governments.

The National Guard was called out. All US Military installations went to the highest, war time level of alert. U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard units were called upon to fly patrols over the capital and over New York. U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers and U.S. Navy Amphibious assault ships with their large hospital facilities were stationed outside of New York harbor along with their escorts to provide both protection and the additional hospital facilities.

The devastation to the World Trade Center complex was complete. The entire facility, including building number seven was ruined and destroyed. Arial photographs over the next days made this all the more evident and the pictures speak for themselves.

FBI agents immediately began investigating evidence that sympathizers and members of Saudi dissident and Islamic militant Usama bin Laden's terrorist group were involved in the attacks. The flight paths of each of the attacking aircraft were plotted. Those involved in flying these aircraft once they were hijacked were said to have enrolled at a flight school in the town of Venice, FL, where they were trained. U.S. Attorney General, John Ashcroft, held a news briefing the next day outlining what had been discovered, along with the ties to Bin Laden. Bin Laden is harbored by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In Boston, a car believed to have been used by one group of the hijackers was found. Officials said it contained an Arabic-language flight manual. Investigators also raided two Boston area hotels thought to have been used by the hijackers. In one room a link was found to a name on one of the flight passenger lists.

One group of hijackers with ties to Osama bin Laden is believed to have crossed from Canada and driven down to Boston to board one of the flights out of Logan airport.

Reports also surfaced that Israeli intelligence had established a link to funding for the terror operation being provided by Iraq. In the days following the attack, it was also discovered through US intelligence that Osama bin Laden was in contact with Iraqi government agents from his base in Afghanistan in the days leading up to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Bin Laden's contacts with the Iraqi government were detected before the attacks, and one official indicated that "This is the basis for signs of state sponsorship."

Attorney General John Ashcroft said that foreign governments likely provided safe haven and support for the 19 terrorists who hijacked the four U.S. airliners. Officials said the intelligence of direct Iraqi government contacts with bin Laden is one of several pieces pointing to Baghdad's involvement in the attacks. Intelligence officials said one of the hijackers, Mohammed Atta, met with an Iraqi intelligence agent in the months before the attack. Despite denials in later yearws, it is clear that there was at least some tie and support of Al Quida operatives by Iraq.

The Taliban government in Afghanistan provided the most direct and clear links to the terrorists however, both in terms of harboring and abetting Osmama's Al Quida organization, and in providing them places to train and establish their headquarter facilities.

The next day, September 12, 2001, Americans began to pour out their spirit and reaction to this atrocity and horror. A firefighter in New York carried a flag with him, and posted it as high as he could climb. The President visited the Pentagon site to show support for victims and rescuers. Workers there had a message draped on the wall of the damaged structure for him. When it was unfurled, cheers went up and the crowd sang "God Bless America".

We will tend to our dead, our injured and our heart broken. We will seek supplication from our God, the Almighty Creator. Then we will tend to this unsavory and terrible business. The enemies of this nation will rue the day that they raised our righteous indignation and ire. A swift, terrible, just and lasting retribution WILL be exacted for this atrocity, this unspeakably horrific act ... count on it, so help us God!

Finally, a last word to those amongst us who would use this terrible and atrocious act to limit our civil rights, to limit our freedoms, to punish all Americans in the name of "added security". NO! Do not even think of going there. The anger of the American patriot is aroused. All Americans who cherish liberty and are willing to stand in any way to defend it and to maintain it are patriots. Such activities to infringe on liberty will be seen for the attempts to further the socialistic and Marxist agendas that they are. They will not be tolerated.

The answer clearly is to visit a horrible, lasting and just punishment and retribution on those who did this act and those who harbored or abetted them so they will NEVER consider doing this again ... and thereby preserve our liberties as our founders intended and is our unalienable right.

2008 Update: The ties to Afghanistan were proven to be true, the ties to Iraq were less clear. The United States targeted both countries in the retalitory operations, "Operation Enduring Freedom" against Afghanistan and the Taliban government in 2001-2004, and "Operation Iraqi Freedom" against Saddam Hussein and his Ba'athist party government in Iraq with major military operations conducted in 2003 and 2004. Two of Sadam's principle henchmen in his government were his sons, Uday and Qusay, both of whom met their ends fighting against US troops in July 2003. Sadam himself was captured in December 2003, then after a new government and constitution were voted in by the Iraqi people, he was tried, sentenced, and executed by the Iraqi people in December of 2006. A major insurgency, fueled by Iraqi Ba'athists and radical Islamics, and helped by other radical Islamics from the region, including Iranian forces, was waged hotly, as a guerilla war, into 2007. A large surge by US forces and the newly constituted, trained, and large Iraqi army at that time has significantly abated that insurgency and Iraq is now on the verge of becoming a free, secular the chagrin of the radical Islamics in the area, particularly Al Quida and Iran, and also to anti-war, far left liberal elements in the United States.

Jeff Head
Idaho, USA

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