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Flight 93 hero's parents visit Charles Town school

Middle school students join nationwide effort to raise money toward building of memorial near Shanksville, Pa.

November 27, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • David Beamer wraps up a presentation Tuesday promoting a Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pa. Beamer spoke to students at Charles Town Middle School. Beamer's son, Todd, was on the flight in 2001 when it was overtaken by terrorists.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — David and Peggy Beamer, parents of Todd Beamer, the passenger on Flight 93 who uttered the now famous battle cry, “Let’s roll,” on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on 9/11, met with Charles Town Middle School students Tuesday.

David Beamer, addressing the eighth-grade class in the school gym, said the fact that United Flight 93 was delayed in leaving Newark was a “blessing.” It prevented the terrorists who hijacked the plane from reaching what many believe was their targeted destination: the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

He said because of the delay, the 43 passengers and three crew members had time to learn that terrorists had crashed two planes into the World Trade Center towers and one into the Pentagon earlier that morning.

When the passengers and crew realized that their plane was also involved in the plot it gave them time to try to do something, Beamer said.

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“They voted to fight back,” he said. “It was a counter-attack and it was successful. They all died, but the Capitol was intact,” he said.

“Flight 93 missed its target,” Beamer said.

The plane crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pa.

“Most of you were very young on that day,” David Beamer told the eighth-graders. Talking to them like a father, he said his son’s call to ‘Let’s roll’ was a call to action for everyone. “You, too, must do the right thing.”

He described his son as being a good student who liked baseball, basketball and soccer in school. “He wasn’t perfect, but he was a good guy. We really miss him.”

Todd Beamer left his wife, Lisa, and three children. One is a high school freshman, one a seventh-grader.

The youngest is 10. Lisa Beamer was pregnant on 9/11.

Todd Beamer managed to make a 13-minute phone call on the airplane’s phone to an operator in Chicago to tell her about the situation on the plane. He told her of the passenger’s plan to ram a loaded beverage cart into the cockpit door, said Charles Town Middle School math teacher Crystal Muia, who organized the event.

“According to the black box on the plane, it was a two-minute struggle,” she said.

“Todd told the operator to pass the information on, that the passengers and crew ‘probably won’t make it out of this,’” David Beamer said.

Muia learned of a program called “93 cents for Flight 93,” a nationwide effort to raise money toward the building of the memorial at the site to the passengers and crew who died there.

Her students set a goal of $1,000 by selling official Flight 93 T-shirts covered with 43 images representing the passengers and crew. That project has netted $750 so far.

The students also are raising money with a memorial banner that will hang in a Flight 93 museum at the crash site. They’re charging 93 cents to sign the banner.

Charles Town Middle is the first West Virginia school visited by the Beamers. The couple has brought their message to schools in Ohio and Indiana.

Retired Chief Warrant Officer Ken Snyder, a survivor of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, told the students his experiences that day when 129 fellow workers died when a plane struck the building.

Some employees saw the 737 jetliner as it headed for the building, Snyder said. “They already knew about the World Trade Center,” he said.

“The plane hit the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. The whole building shook. I saw the ball of fire. We had an elaborate exit system like you do here at school so we were able to leave the building without more casualties,” he said.

Snyder said 23,000 people work in the Pentagon. About 2,900 worked in or near the area where the plane hit.

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