Friday, September 10, 2021

Todd Beamer - Flight 93


"Let's roll."

Todd Morgan Beamer was born in Flint, Michigan, on November 24, 1968.  He was the middle child of David Beamer, an IBM sales representative and Peggy Jackson Beamer, an artist.  Devoutly religious, the couple raised their three children with the values of the Bible and a strong work ethic.

By the time Beamer was in grammar school, the family had relocated to Wheaton, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.  There he attended Wheaton Academy, a private Christian high school, where he was a popular athlete, playing on the baseball, basketball and soccer teams.  By his senior year, the family had once again relocated, this time to San Jose, California, where Beamer graduated from Los Gatos High School in 1986.

After graduation, Beamer enrolled at Fresno State University in California, where he majored in physical therapy.  He played on the school's baseball team with hopes of turning pro, but an automobile accident ended those dreams.  He later returned home to Illinois, transferring to Wheaton College, a Christian liberal arts institution, graduating in 1991.  

After graduation, Beamer began dating former classmate Lisa Brosious.  They were married on May 14, 1994, and relocated to Plainsboro, New Jersey, where Beamer went to work as a marketing representative at the Oracle Corporation.  Just a few months later, he was promoted to account manager, and the two eventually settled in Cranbury, New Jersey, where they began raising a family.

Todd and Lisa, with sons David and Andrew.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Beamer went to Newark International Airport in New Jersey and boarded a flight for San Francisco.  His job often took him away on business trips, as many as four times per month.  A frequent traveler, he and Lisa had just returned from a vacation in Italy the night before, after which Beamer opted to spend one night with his family before leaving for San Francisco.  It was a last-minute change in travel plans, one that would alter history.

United Airlines Flight #93 was scheduled to take off at 8:00 that morning.  Traffic delays on the Newark runway however, delayed its departure until 8:42.  Just four minutes later, American Airlines Flight #11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City, followed 17 minutes later by United Airlines Flight #175, which crashed into the South Tower.  America was under attack.

By 9:25, Flight #93 was over Ohio, when it received an alert stating "beware of cockpit intrusion." The pilot requested confirmation from Cleveland controllers, but by this point, the hijackers, led by Ziad Samir Jarrah, had already started their assault on the cockpit. Cleveland controllers listened in horror as Captain Jason Dahl and First Officer LeRoy Homer, Jr., were murdered by the hijackers.  Jarrah took the controls and punched in a course for Washington, DC. 

Beamer and his fellow passengers were herded into the back of the plane, the hijackers telling them that they had a bomb on board.  Although the passengers initially believed this, the hijackers' intentions became clear once passengers began calling their loved ones on the ground, who informed them of the day's attacks.

Flight #93, registry #N591UA, as seen at Los Angeles International Airport
in January 1999.

Beamer and his fellow passengers, including Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick, decided to act.  They opted to rush the cockpit and take back control before the plane could reach its target.  Unable to reach Lisa by phone, Beamer's final call was to United Airlines Telephone Operator Lisa Jefferson, with whom he recited the Lord's prayer.  He asked her to tell his family that he loved them, before uttering two words that became a battle cry.  Let's roll.  The counter-attack had begun.

The exact sequence of events that followed may never be fully understood, but according to the cockpit data recorder, the passengers successfully made it past the hijackers in the passenger cabin, and were ultimately successful in entering the cockpit.  Jarrah, realizing he was about to lose control of the plane, ditched it in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing everyone on board.  It was only twenty minutes shy of Washington, DC.

Todd Beamer was laid to rest at Brainerd Cemetery in Cranbury, New Jersey.  The inscription on his headstone is a passage from the Hebrew Bible, Micah 6:8.  It reads:

"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

Location: Section F2, Lot #389

Rest in peace.


  • Beamer's story has been recounted in several books, most notably by his widow Lisa.  You can pick up a copy of Let's Roll: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage from Amazon.

  • Flight 93 has been the subject of more than one film about those day's events.  In the 2006 film Flight 93, Beamer was portrayed by actor Brennan Elliott.  That same year, he was portrayed by actor David Alan Basche in United 93.

  • The Cranbury, New Jersey post office was dedicated to Beamer in 2002.  That same year, he and his fellow passengers were posthumously awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

  • The 9/11 Memorial and Museum created a series of videos entitled The Stories They Tell, discussing artifacts recovered from the crash site.  In one such video, Beamer's father David discusses his son, who's watch was among those items recovered.  You can watch that emotional video on YouTube.

  • United Airlines telephone operator Lisa Jefferson recounts her conversation with Beamer, moments before the passengers mounted their counter-assault.  You can watch that video on YouTube.

  • Beamer's name appears on the third panel of the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville.

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