As the nation commemorates the anniversary of September 11, Tidbits honors the memory of one of the heroes of 9/11, Todd Beamer.

In 2001, Todd Beamer was a 32-year-old account manager for the Oracle Corporation. He lived in Canbury, New Jersey with his wife, two boys, and soon-to-be-born baby girl. He had graduated from Illinois’ Christian liberal arts Wheaton College ten years earlier, going on to receive an MBA from DePaul University in 1993.

As a top sales performer for Oracle, Beamer had been awarded a five-day trip to Italy with his wife. The couple arrived home from the trip on the evening of September 10. He had a business meeting scheduled in California for the following day, and booked an early flight out of Newark on the morning of the 11th, with plans to take the red-eye flight home that evening.

    Todd Beamer boarded United Airlines Flight 93 on the morning of 9/11 and the plane took to the air at 8:42, 42 minutes behind schedule. Four minutes after Flight 93 was airborne, American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center’s Tower. At 9:03, the South Tower was hit, but Beamer and the other passengers on Flight 93 had no idea of what had transpired.

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    At 9:28, when Beamer’s plane was over eastern Ohio, al-Qaeda terrorists entered the cockpit and seized control of the plane’s instruments, disengaging the autopilot, and changing the plane’s destination to Washington, D.C. Passengers were sent to the back of the plane. At 9:37, an American Airlines jet had crashed into the Pentagon.

Beamer and fellow passengers Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett, and Jeremy Glick conceived a plan to take the plane back from the hijackers. In the back of the plane, Beamer lifted an Airfone from the back of a seat’s headrest, dialed 0, and was connected to Lisa Jefferson at the Verizon Call Center. He calmly described the situation to Jefferson in great detail. Beamer was so calm that at first, Jefferson doubted his claims, later saying he “sounded so tranquil it made me begin to doubt the authenticity and urgency of the call.”

Beamer’s last request of the 15-minute call to Jefferson was, “If I don’t make it, please call my family and let them know how much I love them.” He then recited the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm with Jefferson, as others joined in. Beamer then pronounced his now-famous words, “Are you ready? Okay. Let’s roll!”

    By then, passengers were aware of the Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, having made calls to their loved ones from the plane. At 9:57, Beamer and several other passengers stormed the cockpit, trying to regain control, and the terrorists tried to stop the attack by forcefully maneuvering the plane. But they lost control of the Boeing 757, and the plane crashed upside down into an empty field near rural Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at a speed of 563 miles per hour (906 km/hr), killing everyone on board. Flight 93 was just 20 minutes away from Washington, D.C.

Beamer was heralded as a national hero because of his call to Lisa Jefferson and his efforts to save the hijackers’ suspected target – the White House or the U.S. Capitol Building. Post office, high schools, and other buildings have been named in his honor. His daughter was born four months after the attacks. Beamer’s wife Lisa established the Todd J. Beamer Memorial Foundation, an organization that administers funds to the children of those killed in the attacks.