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Who is Todd Beamer? The hero of Flight 93 who almost certainly saved the US Capitol

His exhortation of ‘Let’s roll!’ became a rallying cry

Gustaf Kilander
Raleigh, NC
Saturday 11 September 2021 18:25 BST
Related video: George W. Bush says US faces violence threat ‘from within’ at Pennsylvania 9/11 memorial
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Todd Beamer, 32, was heading to a business meeting in San Francisco when he got on a United Airlines flight at Newark Aiport in New Jersey on 11 September 2001.

He was set to fly right back later that evening to come home to his pregnant wife Lisa and their two young boys Drew and David.

Mr Beamer was working for a computer company, selling their software. Terrorists took control of the plan 46 minutes into the flight. “We have a bomb onboard, so sit,” they announced to the cabin.

The destination for the plane was changed to Washington, DC.

As some passengers were able to call family and friends, it became known to the travellers that the World Trade Center had been hit by two planes and that another one had struck the Pentagon in Virginia.

Mr Beamer and the other passengers soon realized that they were on the fourth plane part of that larger attack on the US.

As he attempted to make a call, he was connected to Lisa Jefferson, a call centre supervisor for the United Airlines in-flight phone service. They spoke for 13 minutes.

They recited the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23 as other passengers joined in. Remaining calm throughout the call, Mr Beamer’s voice became a little bit higher as the plane started to dive.

“Lisa, Lisa!” he said.

“I’m still here, Todd,” she answered. “I’ll be here as long as you are.”

Mr Beamer and a group of passengers and flight attendants huddled and voted to try to storm the cockpit.

“If I don’t make it, please call my family and let them know how much I love them,” he told Ms Jefferson.

“Are you ready? Okay, let’s roll,” she heard him tell the others. It was the last thing she heard Mr Beamer say.

More than 500 Marines and Sailors spell out the now famous quote from Todd Beamer, on the flight deck of a ship on 6 September, 2002 (Getty Images)

Flight UA93 never reached DC. It’s thought that the intended target was the US Capitol or the White House. Vice President Dick Cheney had ordered that the plane be shot down.

The plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Everyone on the plane died. Mr Beamer’s widow Lisa Brosious Beamer gave birth to a girl four months later, in January 2002.

Widow Lisa Beamer poses for a photograph prior to signing copies of her new book "Let's Roll: Finding hope in the midst of crisis" at Barnes & Noble, Westside Pavilion on August 21, 2002 (Getty Images)

Mr Beamer was born in 1968 in Flint, Michigan. He had two sisters, one older and one younger. His father worked as a salesman at IBM. He went to Wheaton Academy and Wheaton College. He was good at sports but had his hopes of a professional baseball career dashed by a car accident.

He met his wife at Wheaton in 1991 and they got married in 1994. They were active in their church, teaching Sunday school together and Mr Beamer played softball for the church’s team.

U.S. Air Force Reservists Tech. Sgt. Ron (L) and Staff Sgt. Brian of the 93rd Bomber Squadron apply a decal with the phrase "Lets Roll" to the side of a B-52 bomber February 20, 2002 (Getty Images)

The couple came back from a trip to Italy on 10 September 2001, a vacation given to Mr Beamer from his company.

Doug Macmillan, a friend of Mr Beamer, left his job to run the Todd Beamer Foundation, which helps children who lost their parents on that flight.

After 9/11, Lisa Beamer became the face of the day’s mourners and a reminder of the day’s heroism. Mr Besmer was a former college baseball and basketball player and is thought to have led other passengers in an attack on the hijackers of Flight 93 that brought the plane down before it could crash in Washington, DC. His exhortation of “Let’s roll!” became a rallying cry. His widow made 200 public appearances in the six months after the attacks.

Ms Beamer co-wrote a book, Let’s Roll! Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage.

The couple’s three children all attended Wheaton College. All are athletes, like their dad: Dave, three years old when his father died, was a football quarterback; Drew, who was one, played soccer, as has their daughter Morgan. Morgan was her Mr Beamer’s middle name.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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