Todd Beamer: "Let's
roll,' Flight 93 victim heard to say minutes before
"Are you guys ready? Let's roll!" It's an expression
Todd Beamer used whenever his wife and two young sons
were leaving their home for a family outing.
It was also the expression the 32-year-old businessman
and Sunday school teacher used before he and other
passengers apparently took action against hijackers
aboard United Airlines Flight 93, his wife was told by an
operator who talked to Beamer just before the plane
crashed in a western Pennsylvania field last week.
The plane, which government officials suspect was
headed for a high-profile target in Washington, was the
fourth to crash in a coordinated terrorist attack that
killed thousands, and the only one that didn't take lives
on the ground.
"He was gentle by nature, he was also very
competitive, and he wouldn't stand for anyone being
hurt," said Lisa Beamer, whose account coincides with
other crash victim relatives who received calls from
loved ones aboard the plane. "Knowing that he helped save
lives by bringing that plane down ... it brings joy to a
situation where there isn't much to be found."
Todd Beamer placed a call on one of the Boeing 757's
on-board telephones and spoke for 13 minutes with GTE
operator Lisa D. Jefferson, Beamer's wife said. He
provided detailed information about the hijacking and --
after the operator told him about the morning's World
Trade Center and Pentagon attacks -- said he and others
on the plane were planning to act against the terrorists
aboard, Lisa Beamer said.
"They may have realized that (the hijackers) were
planning to do the same thing with their plane," Beamer
said Sunday in a telephone interview from her Hightstown,
N.J., home. "So they chose to do what they could to
prevent other people from being hurt."
Before the call ended and with yelling heard in the
background, Todd Beamer asked the operator to pray with
him. Together, they recited the 23rd Psalm, which
includes the passage: "(the Lord) leadeth me in the paths
of righteousness for his name's sake." Then he asked
Jefferson to promise she would call his wife of seven
years and their two sons, David, 3, and Andrew, 1. She is
expecting their third child in January 2002.
After finally receiving clearance from investigators,
Jefferson kept her promise Friday.
"People asked me if I'm upset that I didn't speak with
him, but I'm glad he called (Jefferson) instead," Lisa
Beamer said. "I would have been helpless. And I know what
his last words would have been to me, anyway. I think
that's why he chose the method he did."
Beamer said her husband placed the call at 9:45 a.m.
Tuesday and told Jefferson that there were three
knife-wielding hijackers on board and one had what
appeared to be a bomb tied to his chest with a red belt.
Two of the hijackers were in the cockpit with the door
locked -- the pilot and co-pilot were forced out -- and
the man with the apparent bomb stayed in the rear of the
The jet was bobbing and changed course several times.
The passengers knew they would never land in San
"They realized they were going to die. Todd said he
and some other passengers were going to jump on the guy
with the bomb," Lisa Beamer said.
Several other passengers made phone calls from the jet
before it crashed southeast of Pittsburgh. Jeremy Glick,
31; Mark Bingham, 31; and Thomas Burnett Jr. 38, all
called loved ones. Glick and Burnett said they were going
to do something.
"Clearly, we know the plane that crashed outside
Pittsburgh was headed for Washington," Vice President
Dick Cheney said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday.
"Without question, the attack would have been much worse
if it hadn't been for the courageous acts of those
individuals on United 93."
After the prayer was finished and the promise was made
to call his wife, Todd Beamer dropped the phone, leaving
the line open. It was then that the operator heard
Beamer's words: "Let's roll."
They were the last words she heard. The phone went
silent, and the plane crashed, killing all 44 people
aboard. United issued a statement Sunday saying one of
the 37 passengers had purchased two tickets, so the
number of people had been incorrectly reported as 45.
"Some people live their whole lives, long lives,
without having left anything behind," Lisa Beamer said.
"My sons will be told their whole lives that their father
was a hero, that he saved lives. It's a great legacy for
a father to leave his children."
Bobbi Hennessey, a spokeswoman for GTE parent company
Verizon Communications Inc., declined to comment Sunday
and a telephone number for Jefferson could not be
determined. However, a Verizon employee, speaking on
condition of anonymity, confirmed that Jefferson is a
supervisor for the company.
At a memorial service held Sunday at Princeton
Alliance Church in Plainsboro, N.J., hundreds of friends
and relatives remembered Todd Beamer as a devoted family
man, a devout Christian, a good friend and a hero.
"I've, of course, asked myself many times why was our
beautiful son on that plane?" said David Beamer, Todd's
father. "We know why he was on it. The faces of evil --
those particular hijackers -- they got on the wrong
"Todd and these newfound friends on Tuesday morning --
newfound freedom fighters is what they were -- they did
the right thing."