Eighteen years after the terror attacks of 9/11, a new account has been released of the moments before Flight 93 crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The account can be found in Garrett M. Graff’s new book, “The Only Plane In the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11.”
The book includes details from phone operators and relatives of those aboard Flight 93, who had heard of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and made the heroic, heartbreaking decision to take back the plane.
Lt. Col. Marc Sasseville’s recollection of that day is among those included in Graff’s book. Sasseville was an F-16 Air Force pilot, along with Lt. Heather “Luckey” Penney.
Vice President Dick Cheney gave them the directive that Flight 93 would have to be taken down, which would kill everyone on board, including civilians.
Sasseville and Penney didn’t have any missiles, effectively making this a suicide mission. The two were prepared, and accepted that it could be their last flight.
“I genuinely believed that was going to be the last time I took off. If we did it right, this would be it,” said Penney.
According to Penney:
“We would be ramming the aircraft. We didn’t have [missiles] on board to shoot the airplane down.”
“As we were putting on our flight gear in the life support shop, Sass looked at me and said, ‘I’ll ram the cockpit.’ I made the decision I would take the tail off the aircraft.”
We know now that passengers on Flight 93 knew what was going on — that terrorists were planning to head toward Washington, D.C., and crash the plane –possibly taking more lives.
Passenger Todd Beamer and others on board hatched a plan to thwart the terrorists and force the plane to crash over a rural area.
Beamer was heard saying, “Are you ready? OK. Let’s roll.”
The plane crashed in Shanksville shortly after.
“They made the decision we didn’t have to make,” said Sasseville.