12 of 16
 
On September 11, 2001, 40 people died when Flight 93 crashed in a Pennsylvania field. Thanks to the heroic actions of a few passengers, an even greater tragedy was prevented. According to U.S. officials, the hijacked plane was en route to the White House.

In 2001, Maria Shriver interviewed Deena Burnett, the wife of Tom Burnett Jr., one of the brave passengers who fought back against the terrorists. To this day, Maria says it was one of her most moving interviews.

Tom flew cross-country so often for business that the woman he proposed to, Deena, was a flight attendant. When their daughters—Anna Clare and twins Halley and Madison—were born, Deena stopped flying.

When the horrific events of September 11 began to unfold, Deena says she wasn't sure if her husband was in danger, but she knew he was planning fly home from New York that morning. Then, the phone rang. "It was Tom," she told Maria. "He said, 'I'm on the airplane, United Flight 93, and it's been hijacked.'"

Deena immediately called 911. While she was talking to the FBI, Tom called again with an update. "He said they were in the cockpit, and he hung up again," she said. "I remember hugging the telephone, waiting for it to ring."

Then, Tom called again. "He said, 'We can't wait for the authorities. We have to do something,'" Deena said.

Fifteen seconds later, Deena spoke to her husband for the very last time. "He said, 'Okay, there's a group of us, and we're going to do something.' I said, 'No. Please sit down and be still and be quiet. Don't draw attention to yourself,'" she told Maria. "And he said, 'No. If they're going to drive this plane into the ground, we've got to do something.'"

After that, Tom hung up the phone...and never called again. Deena says she held onto the telephone for three hours, until the battery ran down.
PREVIOUS | NEXT
FROM: Six Years Later—The Children of September 11
Published on January 01, 2006

NEXT STORY

Comment

LONG FORM
ONE WORD