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Took a call from Flight 93.

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9:43 a.m. September 11, 2001: Flight 93 Passenger Todd Beamer Reaches Phone Operator Edit

in a template Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer reaches a GTE Wikipedia operator,Phyllis Johnson Wikipedia who using one of the plane’s seatback phones. He had tried using his credit card on the phone, but been unable to get authorization, so his call is routed to a GTE customer service center in the Chicago Wikipedia area.[1]

Phyllis Johnson calls customer service supervisor Lisa Jefferson over and informs her of the call. As Jefferson later recalls, “I asked [Johnson] information that I needed to report to our surveillance center. And by the time I came back, she appeared to be traumatized, and that’s when I told her I would take the call over… She was just dazed.” Having immediately contacted the FBI Wikipedia, airline security, and GTE operations personnel, Jefferson gets on the line and speaks to Beamer for the next 13 minutes [see 1].[2]

She later informs Beamer’s wife Lisa,

“[I]t was a miracle that Todd’s call hadn’t been disconnected. Because of the enormous number of calls that day, the GTE systems overloaded and lines were being disconnected all around her… She kept thinking, This call is going to get dropped! Yet Todd stayed connected… all the way to the end.” [3]


According to journalist and author Jere Longman, “GTE-Verizon [does] not routinely tape its telephone calls. As a supervisor, [Jefferson] would have been the one to monitor the taping, but she did not want to risk losing the call.” [4] Yet an early article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette will claim that, “because it was to an operator,” Beamer’s call “was tape-recorded.” [5] Lisa Beamer will only be informed of her husband’s call from Flight 93 three days later, and be read a summary of it written by Jefferson [see 2]. [6]

9:45 a.m.-9:58 a.m. September 11, 2001: Passenger Todd Beamer Describes Situation on Flight 93, Though Accounts Are ContradictoryEdit

Todd Beamer. [Source: Family photo] After having trouble getting authorization on an Airfone to call his family (see 9:43 a.m. September 11, 2001), Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer is able to speak to GTE customer service supervisor Lisa Jefferson. Jefferson, who quickly alerts the FBI about Beamer’s call, talks to him for 13 minutes. According to a report in the London Observer, she has the FBI simultaneously on another line, offering guidance. She immediately asks Beamer for details of the flight, like “What is your flight number? What is the situation? Where are the crew members?” With the help of a flight attendant sitting next to him, Beamer details the numbers of passengers and crew on the plane. He says the hijackers have divided the passengers into two groups, with ten of them in first class at the front of the plane, and 27 in the back. (Jefferson’s written summary of the conversation will say that the larger number of passengers was in the front. However, Beamer’s wife later says that Jefferson informed her it was in fact the other way around.) According to some reports, Beamer says three people have hijacked the plane. Two of them, armed with knives, are in the cockpit and have locked the door; the third is in first class with what appears to be a bomb strapped around his waist. A curtain has been closed separating first class from the coach section of the plane. Other accounts claim the hijacker with the bomb is in fact in the rear of the plane. According to one report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Beamer describes four hijackers in total: the two in the cockpit, the one with the bomb guarding the passengers in the back of the plane, and a fourth in first class. But the Orlando Sentinel says Beamer tells Jefferson he is free to talk because the hijacker in first class has closed the curtain, indicating there is no hijacker at the back of the plane. (Beamer himself is at the back of plane, calling from a phone in row 32.) According to an early article in Newsweek, he says that one passenger is dead and he doesn’t know about the pilots. However, journalist and author Jere Longman later writes that Beamer describes to Jefferson two people on the floor in fist class, possibly dead. The flight attendant next to him can be overheard saying these are the plane’s captain and co-pilot. The attendant does not mention their names or say they are wearing uniforms, but she sounds certain. Beamer then repeats what the attendant has told him. At some point in the call, Beamer asks, “Do you know what [the hijackers] want? Money or ransom or what?” He seems unaware of the other hijackings that have occurred. Jefferson informs him of the two planes crashing in New York. [CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/16/2001; PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/19/2001; NEWSWEEK, 9/22/2001; PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/22/2001; PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 10/28/2001; OBSERVER, 12/2/2001; LONGMAN, 2002, PP. 198-200; ORLANDO SENTINEL, 9/5/2002; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006, PP. 11 ] Beamer says of the hijackers, “It doesn’t seem like they know how to fly the plane.” [SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 9/17/2001] He also tells Jefferson about himself, including where he is from, that he has two sons, and that his wife is expecting a third child in January. [PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/22/2001] He tells her, “I just want to talk to somebody and just let someone know that this is happening.” [LONGMAN, 2002, PP. 204] Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Lisa Jefferson, Todd Beamer Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Shortly Before 9:58 a.m. September 11, 2001: Todd Beamer Describes Flight 93 Passengers’ Plan to Fight Back; He and Others Join Takeover AttemptEdit

Since 9:45 a.m., Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer has been talking by Airfone to Lisa Jefferson, a GTE customer service supervisor (see 9:45 a.m.-9:58 a.m. September 11, 2001). Beamer is a devout Christian, and asks Jefferson to recite the Lord’s Prayer with him. He then recites the 23rd Psalm. He also gives her his home phone number and tells her to contact his wife if he does not survive, and let his family know how much he loves them. [SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 9/17/2001; PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/22/2001; LONGMAN, 2002, PP. 198-200] He tells Jefferson that some of the passengers are going to “jump” the hijacker who claims to have a bomb, and try to seize control of the plane. He says, “We’re going to do something. I know I’m not going to get out of this.” In the background, Jefferson can hear an “awful commotion” of people shouting, and women screaming, “Oh my God,” “God help us,” and “Help us Jesus.” Beamer lets go of the phone but leaves it connected. Jefferson can hear him speaking to someone else, saying the words that later become famous: “Are you ready guys? Let’s roll” (alternate version: “You ready? Okay. Let’s roll”). [NEWSWEEK, 9/22/2001; PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 10/28/2001; LONGMAN, 2002, PP. 203-204] Beamer reportedly talks to Jefferson for 13 minutes, meaning his last words to her are at 9:58 a.m. [PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/16/2001; PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/19/2001] Jefferson then hears more screaming and other commotion. She remains on the phone until after the time Flight 93 crashes (see (9:59 a.m.-10:49 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [ORLANDO SENTINEL, 9/5/2002] Entity Tags: Lisa Jefferson, Todd Beamer Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:59 a.m.-10:49 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Supervisor Remains on Phone to Flight 93, Yet Does Not Hear Plane Crashing

A GTE Airfone recovered from the debris of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. [Source: Smithsonian National Museum of American History] After Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer has finished speaking to GTE customer service supervisor Lisa Jefferson (see Shortly Before 9:58 a.m. September 11, 2001), he puts down the seatback phone he has been talking on but leaves the line connected. Jefferson continues listening until after the time the plane crashes, yet does not hear any sound when the crash occurs. As she later recalls, “I was still on the line and the plane took a dive and by then, it just went silent. I held on until after the plane crashed—probably about 15 minutes longer and I never heard a crash—it just went silent because—I can’t explain it. We didn’t lose a connection because there’s a different sound that you use. It’s a squealing sound when you lose a connection. I never lost connection, but it just went silent.” She says that soon afterwards, “they had announced over the radio that United Airlines Flight 93 had just crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and a guy put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘Lisa, you can release the line now. That was his plane.‘… [E]ventually I gave in and I hung the phone up.” [BELIEFNET (.COM), 2006] According to a summary of the passenger phone calls presented at the 2006 trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, Beamer’s call lasts for “3,925 seconds.” As it began just before 9:44 a.m., this would mean it ends around 10:49 a.m. [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006] Entity Tags: Todd Beamer, Lisa Jefferson Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

After 1:00 p.m. September 11, 2001: FBI Tells GTE Supervisor to Keep Todd Beamer Call Secret GTE customer service supervisor Lisa Jefferson had spoken with Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer for 13 minutes before his plane crashed (see 9:45 a.m.-9:58 a.m. September 11, 2001). Before heading home from work at 1 p.m., she is questioned by phone by three FBI agents, who asked her scores of questions about her conversation with Beamer. Later in the afternoon, an FBI agent phones her at home. He provides her with several numbers to call, should she remember further details about her conversation with Beamer. He also tells her to maintain secrecy about the call. Jefferson later describes, “In fact, he stressed the importance of keeping the matter under wraps.” [JEFFERSON AND MIDDLEBROOKS, 2006, PP. 61-62 AND 69] It is not until three days later that the FBI first releases information on the call, and that Beamer’s wife learns of it (see September 14, 2001). [BEAMER AND ABRAHAM, 2002, PP. 185-186] It is unclear why the FBI wants it kept secret until then. Phone calls made by several other passengers from Flight 93 will be reported within a day of the attacks. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/11/2001; SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 9/12/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 9/12/2001] Entity Tags: Todd Beamer, Lisa Jefferson, Federal Bureau of Investigation Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

September 14, 2001: Lisa Beamer First Informed of Husband’s Phone Call From Flight 93

Lisa Beamer. [Source: NBC] Since 9/11, Lisa Beamer—whose husband Todd Beamer died on Flight 93—has reportedly had one “nagging question.” According to Newsweek, she’d wondered, “Why had her husband, a man so attached to his cell phone that [she] had to confiscate it when they went on vacation, not called her from the plane? Other passengers had called home from Flight 93 to say goodbye and talk to their loved ones. Why not Todd?” [NEWSWEEK, 12/3/2001] This evening, she receives a call from her family liaison with United Airlines, informing her that the FBI has released information that Todd made a call from the flight: Using a GTE Airfone, he’d spoken to an operator in the Chicago area. The FBI had been keeping the information private until it reviewed the material. The liaison reads her a summary of the call written by Lisa Jefferson, the GTE supervisor with whom Todd had spoken (see 9:45 a.m.-9:58 a.m. September 11, 2001). [BEAMER AND ABRAHAM, 2002, PP. 185-186] During the call, Jefferson had asked Todd if he’d wanted to be connected to his wife. However, as Jefferson later recalls, he’d “said no, that he did not want to upset her as they were expecting their third child in January.” [ORLANDO SENTINEL, 9/5/2002] Instead, he’d asked Jefferson to contact his family if he didn’t “make it out of this.” [LONGMAN, 2002, PP. 200] In her book, published in 2002, Lisa Beamer writes that she was “so glad he didn’t” contact her from the plane, because, “Had I learned about Todd’s circumstances by hearing his voice from the plane, I no doubt would have lost it.” While Lisa Beamer only learns of her husband’s call from Flight 93 on this day, the CEO of the company for which he’d worked appears to have been aware of its details a day earlier (see September 13, 2001). [BEAMER AND ABRAHAM, 2002, PP. 184-185 AND 201-202] Entity Tags: Lisa Beamer, Todd Beamer, Lisa Jefferson, United Airlines Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


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