Todd Beamer was one of the many heroes of Sept. 11, 2001. Beamer was a passenger on United Flight 93 when it was hijacked and famously said, “Let’s roll,” in a phone call audio recording. He was 32.
United Flight 93 was the only hijacked plane on 9/11 that did not reach its intended target, which officials believe was the U.S. Capitol or another target in Washington DC. The crew and passengers on Flight 93 made phone calls to their families to say goodbye, and learned that hijacked planes were being used as weapons to commit deadly acts of terrorism. Beamer and other passengers decided to take over the flight, which crashed at high speed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Among those passengers was Beamer, who tried to call his pregnant wife to tell her he loved her. They were unable to connect, and Beamer relayed his message to Operator Lisa Jefferson, who reflected on the call with CBS News.
Here’s what you need to know:
Beamer Developed a Plan With Other Flight 93 Passengers to Attack a Hijacker & His Last Recorded Words Were ‘Let’s Roll’
Jefferson described the phone call to CBS News and said Beamer was “very soft spoken, calm.” Beamer detailed the high jacking of the plane, saying three people wearing red headbands forced their way into the cockpit and took over the flight. Beamer told Jefferson the plane was going down.
“At this point he raised his voice,” she said.
Beamer told her they were going down, then up and turned around. He said he did not know where they were going, Jefferson recalled.
As passengers learned of the attack on the World Trade Center, it became clear that the hijackers were not returning to the airport as they claimed, said Reporter Jon Meyer in an interview.
“They knew there was no going back. This was the new reality of what we face now and they were the first ones that realized they needed to do something,” Meyer said.
Beamer told Jefferson he and a few other men on the plane developed a plane to attack one of the hijackers and attempt to land the plane safely.
She heard Beamer ask another passenger, “Are you ready?”
He answered, “OK. Let’s roll,” Jefferson said.
Beamer kept the line open, and soon learned that the plane had crashed in Pennsylvania, she said.
Beamer Told Jefferson to Tell His Wife, Who Was Pregnant With Their Third Child, That He Loved Her
The Flight 93 National Memorial details each of the phone calls that were made from the airplane, and plays recordings of the call at the crash site. Beamer was a passenger in row 32 DEF, the memorial page says. He made his first two phone calls at 9:42 a.m., but neither call went through, the page says, referencing notes from the FBI and other investigative agencies.
One minute later, he tried to call his wife, but the phone call was terminated as it connected, the page says.
Beamer was then able to connect with GTE Airfone Operators, and that call, beginning at 9:43 a.m., lasted for the remainder of the flight.
He gave information on the hijacking, the page said. It was that:
the flight had been hijacked, and the captain and first officer were lying on the floor of the first-class cabin and were injured or possibly dead. One of the hijackers had a red belt with a bomb strapped to his waist. Two of the hijackers, who had knives, entered the cockpit and closed the door behind them. At some point the hijackers closed the curtain between first class and coach so that passengers could not see into first class; those in the rear of the plane were not being monitored by the hijackers. The plane was going up and down and had turned or changed direction. He and some other passengers were planning something and he was going to put the phone down.
Since he was unable to connect to his wife, he asked Jefferson if she could pass along a message, the memorial page said.
“‘Beamer asked if he could be connected with his wife, or if that was not possible, if a message could be passed to his wife telling her that he loved her,'” the page said, quoting Jefferson.
Beamer and his wife, Lisa Beamer, had just returned from a trip to Italy the day before, according to Tap Into East Brunswick. The family lived in Cranberry, New Jersey, and he traveled frequently for work. He decided to take a red eye flight for his business trip Sept. 11, 2001, so he could spend the night with his family.
Beamer was remembered through memorials both in his hometown and nationally. Lisa Beamer established the Todd M. Beamer Memorial Foundation, to assist children and families with trauma, the publication reported. The article quoted Lisa Beamer’s book, published in 2003.
“That night I simply would have refused to project twenty years into the future, to today. Thinking that far ahead was too frightening, too painful, too overwhelming to consider,” she wrote, according to the article. “I hope you realize that Todd and I are ordinary people.”