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Family, friends, strangers honor heroism of Flight 93 passengers, crew

| Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, 6:30 p.m.

Family, friends and strangers wishing to pay their respects attended Tuesday’s 17th anniversary observance at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County.

Many wore patriotic colors of red, white and blue, waved American flags, and filmed or photographed the ceremony. Many also stayed afterward, walking the path from the Visitors Center through a quiet field of wildflowers to the Wall of Names below, which lists each of the 40 passengers and crew members who died on 9/11 after battling terrorists who had hijacked their airplane.

— — —

Karen Morrow of New Holland visited the memorial for the first time Tuesday. She left a letter — wrapped in a pink, flowered envelope and decorated with a pink ribbon — wedged between the stone panels etched with the names of her friends Jean and Donald Peterson. Both were passengers on Flight 93.

Morrow said that she was in Bible study with Jean Peterson for three years when she lived in New Jersey. Their children were applying to college at the same time, and the two women would pray together for their success, Morrow said.

— — —

The annual Flight 93 memorial ceremony has become like a family reunion for the family of Deora Bodley, the plane’s youngest passenger at 20 years old.

Christine Abbott, Bodley’s aunt, describes the other Flight 93 families as “a second family.” A photo of Bodley was pinned to her pink rain jacket, along with Tower of Voices pin, white ribbons and a pin worn by the families of those on board Flight 93.

Bodley wasn’t supposed to be on that flight, Abbott said. Her niece flew as a standby passenger after her original flight was grounded.

— — —

Gerald Bingham, father of passenger Mark Bingham, and Joan Burkholtz, cousin of passenger Richard Guadagno, represented family members as a memorial wreath was placed at the wall.

Bingham said he tries to travel from his Plant City, Fla., home to the memorial each year on his son’s birthday, May 22, and on Sept. 11.

He said he found the memorial ceremony, including remarks from President Trump, “interesting.”

“It’s good to have the president here,” he said.

Bingham also praised the community’s residents, many of whom have become family friends over the years.

“There are good people up here. It’s helped us,” he said.

— — —

Gordon Felt, president of the Families of Flight 93, lost his brother, Edward Felt, aboard Flight 93.

Over 17 years, he says, the families have witnessed “an amazing evolution,” at the memorial site.

“Today we have a complete memorial, with the dedication of the Tower of Voices this past Sunday,” he said.

“I come back this year always with a sense of honor, love for my brother and the 39 other heroes of Flight 93. Certainly a sense of gratefulness to our nation, to all those contributors that helped us complete this memorial, and a sense of relief. We now know that there is a permanent memorial honoring the 40 tremendous heroes, not only as individuals, but honoring their collective actions that were taken that morning Sept. 11, 2001,” Felt said.

He, too, was glad to have President Trump attend “and represent the American people.”

“It was, I thought, a wonderful service this morning, appropriate comments made by all, respectfully. … I was very pleased with today’s ceremony,” Felt said.

— — —

About 150 waited in line just after 8:30 a.m. when buses stopped running from the parking area to the memorial ceremony site. That number grew as the ceremony continued.

The Gilson family of Juniata County was first in line when shuttle service was halted.

“I’m just happy to be here,” said Julie Gilson, who came with her husband and two children, Bethany and Jake.

“Actually seeing it in person is different than seeing it on TV,” Gilson said, explaining that she wants her son — who was born about a year after Sept. 11, 2001 — to learn about history first-hand.

Debi Tate of Clymer said that she always wanted to come out to a ceremony to pay her respects. Like others stuck in the parking lot, Clymer streamed the ceremony on her cellphone. She stood with her hand over her heart as the national anthem played.

— — —

About 30 United and American Airlines pilots and flight attendants from all over the country —Houston, Boston, San Francisco, Minneapolis and elsewhere — attended the ceremony to pay their respects. A group has come every year since 2001, said Trey Carr, a flight attendant based in El Paso, Texas. Some crew members knew the deceased, he said.

“I think we made a vow that we would never forget and we would honor them as heroes,” said Ken Diaz, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, or AFA, United Chapter.

He saw the crew of United Flight 93 in Newark, N.J., before the plane departed the morning of 9/11. Diaz also lost a cousin, Angel Pena, in the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York.

— — —

Cindy Townsend of Apollo arrived Tuesday at the Flight 93 grounds around 8:30 a.m., just as state police were closing the road. She picked up three American and United crew members who were also blocked from entering the national memorial.

“My heart breaks for them, really,” Townsend said.

“I’m sad that we’re not in there for the families,” said Jennifer Woodburn, a flight attendant based in San Francisco. She has come to the Flight 93 memorial for the past five years and said that she wants families to know that their loved ones are not forgotten.

Jamie Martines and Mary Pickels are Tribune-Review staff writers. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, jmartines@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Jamie_Martines. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, mpickels@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MaryPickels.

American and United Airlines flight attendants wait to board shuttles to the Flight 93 memorial ceremony on Sept. 11, 2018. The group missed the ceremony for the first time in 17 years after the area was locked down due to the president’s arrival.
American and United Airlines flight attendants wait to board shuttles to the Flight 93 memorial ceremony on Sept. 11, 2018. The group missed the ceremony for the first time in 17 years after the area was locked down due to the president’s arrival.
American and United Airlines flight crew members pay their respects to the crew and passengers of Flight 93 at the Wall of Names on Sept. 11, 2018.
American and United Airlines flight crew members pay their respects to the crew and passengers of Flight 93 at the Wall of Names on Sept. 11, 2018.
Ken Diaz, president of the United Chapter of the Association of Flight Attendants, steps through mud as he carries a wreath to place at the Flight 93 crash site on Sept. 11, 2018.
Ken Diaz, president of the United Chapter of the Association of Flight Attendants, steps through mud as he carries a wreath to place at the Flight 93 crash site on Sept. 11, 2018.
Paul Abbott, of Grand Rapids, pins a photo of his niece to the jacket of his wife, Christine Abbott. Their niece, Deora Bodley, was the youngest passenger on Flight 93 at 20 years old. The couple attended the ceremony at the Flight 93 memorial on Sept. 11, 2018.
Paul Abbott, of Grand Rapids, pins a photo of his niece to the jacket of his wife, Christine Abbott. Their niece, Deora Bodley, was the youngest passenger on Flight 93 at 20 years old. The couple attended the ceremony at the Flight 93 memorial on Sept. 11, 2018.
Ken Diaz, president of the United Chapter of the Association of Flight Attendants, speaks with a park service officer about getting flight crew members on a shuttle to the Flight 93 memorial ceremony on Sept. 11, 2018. The group was already delayed and missed the ceremony for the first time in 17 years.
Ken Diaz, president of the United Chapter of the Association of Flight Attendants, speaks with a park service officer about getting flight crew members on a shuttle to the Flight 93 memorial ceremony on Sept. 11, 2018. The group was already delayed and missed the ceremony for the first time in 17 years.
American and United Airlines flight attendants hold roses to place at the Wall of Names at the Flight 93 crash site on Sept. 11, 2018.
American and United Airlines flight attendants hold roses to place at the Wall of Names at the Flight 93 crash site on Sept. 11, 2018.
American and United Airlines flight crew members left a pin—far right—at the Flight 93 memorial crash site on Sept. 11, 2018.
American and United Airlines flight crew members left a pin—far right—at the Flight 93 memorial crash site on Sept. 11, 2018.
Anto Sudarwanto, a flight attendant based in Cleveland; Jennifer Woodburn, a flight attendant based in San Francisco and Trey Carr, a flight attendant based in El Paso, wait to board a shuttle to the Flight 93 memorial ceremony on Sept. 11, 2018.
Anto Sudarwanto, a flight attendant based in Cleveland; Jennifer Woodburn, a flight attendant based in San Francisco and Trey Carr, a flight attendant based in El Paso, wait to board a shuttle to the Flight 93 memorial ceremony on Sept. 11, 2018.
A visitor to the Flight 93 memorial on Sept. 11, 2018 live streamed President Donald Trump’s speech during the memorial ceremony as she waited for the shuttle to move up to the crash site.
A visitor to the Flight 93 memorial on Sept. 11, 2018 live streamed President Donald Trump’s speech during the memorial ceremony as she waited for the shuttle to move up to the crash site.
Gerald Bingham, of Plant City, Fla., wears a photo of his son, Mark Bingham, who was a passenger on Flight 93. Bingham attended a ceremony at the Flight 93 memorial on Sept. 11, 2018.
Gerald Bingham, of Plant City, Fla., wears a photo of his son, Mark Bingham, who was a passenger on Flight 93. Bingham attended a ceremony at the Flight 93 memorial on Sept. 11, 2018.
Debi Tate, of Clymer, streams the Flight 93 memorial ceremony on her cell phone as she waits for a shuttle from the parking lot. She stands with her hand over her heart as the National Anthem plays, along with Louie Tate, of Clymer, and Lucas Cline, of Indiana. All three attended the event at the Flight 93 grounds on September 11, 2018.
Debi Tate, of Clymer, streams the Flight 93 memorial ceremony on her cell phone as she waits for a shuttle from the parking lot. She stands with her hand over her heart as the National Anthem plays, along with Louie Tate, of Clymer, and Lucas Cline, of Indiana. All three attended the event at the Flight 93 grounds on September 11, 2018.
Gerald Bingham of Plant City, Fla., and family friend Rick Sarmiento, visit the Wall of Names at the Flight 93 National Memorial on Tuesday, Sept. 11. Bingham tries to visit on his son Mark Bingham’s birthday, May 22, and on Sept. 11, he says.
Gerald Bingham of Plant City, Fla., and family friend Rick Sarmiento, visit the Wall of Names at the Flight 93 National Memorial on Tuesday, Sept. 11. Bingham tries to visit on his son Mark Bingham’s birthday, May 22, and on Sept. 11, he says.
Mark and Brenda Robertson of Confluence proudly wear T-shirts and hats supporting President Trump as they attend Tuesday’s 17th anniversary observance at the Flight 93 National Memorial. Both appreciated President’s Trump’s speech and both wanted to pay their respects to the passengers’ families, they said.
Mark and Brenda Robertson of Confluence proudly wear T-shirts and hats supporting President Trump as they attend Tuesday’s 17th anniversary observance at the Flight 93 National Memorial. Both appreciated President’s Trump’s speech and both wanted to pay their respects to the passengers’ families, they said.
Members of the Association of Flight Attendants - CWA, AFL-CIO, placed a wreath near the Wall of Names at the Flight 93 National Memorial Tuesday, honoring “our crewmember heroes of flights UA 175, UA 93, AA 11 and AA 77.”
Members of the Association of Flight Attendants - CWA, AFL-CIO, placed a wreath near the Wall of Names at the Flight 93 National Memorial Tuesday, honoring “our crewmember heroes of flights UA 175, UA 93, AA 11 and AA 77.”
This wreath, reading “Always remember, never forget,” was placed at the Flight 93 National Memorial near the Wall of Names on Tuesday, Sept. 11, by the Association of Flight Attendants - CWA, AFL-CIO.
This wreath, reading “Always remember, never forget,” was placed at the Flight 93 National Memorial near the Wall of Names on Tuesday, Sept. 11, by the Association of Flight Attendants - CWA, AFL-CIO.
Gerald Bingham wears a pin with a picture of his son, Mark Bingham, while attending Tuesday’s 17th anniversary observance at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County. Bingham was a passenger aboard Flight 93, one of four planes hijacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001.
Gerald Bingham wears a pin with a picture of his son, Mark Bingham, while attending Tuesday’s 17th anniversary observance at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County. Bingham was a passenger aboard Flight 93, one of four planes hijacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001.
Gordon Felt, president of Families of Flight 93, speaks with students attending Tuesday’s 17th anniversary observance at the Flight 93 National Memorial. Felt’s brother, Edward Felt, was one of the 40 passengers and crew aboard United Airlines Flight 93 when it crashed in Shanksville, Somerset County, on Sept. 11, 2001.
Gordon Felt, president of Families of Flight 93, speaks with students attending Tuesday’s 17th anniversary observance at the Flight 93 National Memorial. Felt’s brother, Edward Felt, was one of the 40 passengers and crew aboard United Airlines Flight 93 when it crashed in Shanksville, Somerset County, on Sept. 11, 2001.
Karen Morrow, of New Holland, pays respects to friends Jean and Don Peterson, passengers on Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2018. Morrow was in Bible study with Jean Peterson for three years while living in New Jersey. She left a letter to her friends at the memorial site.
Karen Morrow, of New Holland, pays respects to friends Jean and Don Peterson, passengers on Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2018. Morrow was in Bible study with Jean Peterson for three years while living in New Jersey. She left a letter to her friends at the memorial site.
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