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How 9/11 hero flight attendant Betty Ong identified plane’s hijackers


At 8:20 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, Betty Ann Ong spoke in a minimal voice on an Airfone from the rear of American Airlines Flight 11.

Quiet and businesslike, she told floor employees: “The cockpit’s not answering. Somebody’s stabbed in enterprise course — and I assume there is mace … I think we’re finding hijacked.”

Betty, 45, experienced requested to work an further shift on Flight 11, bound for Los Angeles out of Boston’s Logan Airport, so she could join her sister Cathie for a vacation in Hawaii. But 14 minutes after takeoff, the hijacked plane produced a U-flip and headed towards New York Metropolis.

Many thanks to Betty’s furtive mobile phone call, the world appreciates that terrorists critically wounded flight attendants Karen Martin and Bobbi Arestegui, slit the throat of organization-class passenger Daniel Lewin, and “jammed their way” into the cockpit, wherever they very likely killed co-pilots John Ogonowski and Thomas McGuinness Jr.

We also know that they sprayed mace — which was prohibited on flights — and that passengers huddled in mentor to escape the poisonous fumes as the aircraft flew erratically toward the NYC skyline.

Authorities were being capable to speedily identify the 5 hijackers due to the fact Betty and fellow attendant Madeline Sweeney relayed the seat figures of the guys.

Ong’s very last words: “Pray for us. Pray for us.” Flight 11 crashed into the Globe Trade Center’s North Tower at 8:46 a.m.

Betty Ong Flight 11 attendant
Flight attendant Betty Ong alerted floor workers that American Airlines Flight 11 was being hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001.
National September 11 Me

A lot of of the 25 flight attendants murdered on 9/11 confirmed incredible braveness. But the contribution of Betty, a Chinese American, shines even brighter 20 decades later on, amid a surge in detest crimes focusing on Asian Us citizens.

“My sister gave her daily life for her region on Sept. 11,” Cathie Ong-Herrera, one of Betty’s two more mature sisters, informed The Submit, “and it is very hurtful when you think about what’s heading on now.”

Betty, whose mother emigrated from China, was born in San Francisco and was the youngest of four siblings.

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With her slender determine and pretty deal with, Betty was when approached about modeling, but their mother frowned on it. Rather, the then-22-calendar year-outdated pitched in at her parents’ beef jerky factory, where by indicators of her steely nerves emerged.

“One working day the keep was becoming held up,” Cathie reported. “Betty was out in front and experienced a gun held to her head. My mother reported she never ever panicked. All she mentioned was, ‘Dad, we’re being robbed.’”

They turned more than the dollars and the robbers left. “She was in no way shook up.”

Practically a ten years later, in 1987, Betty was driving on US 101, south of San Francisco, when she saw a Honda get clipped by a speeding pickup and roll in excess of 2 times.

Betty Ong, Cathie Ong, and Gloria Ong during a trip to China in 1980.
Betty Ong and her sisters Cathie and Gloria during a excursion to China in 1980.
Courtesy of the Ong relatives

Betty and one more motorist promptly pulled more than to help.“‘I know you! I know you!’”Jo Ellen Chew, the Honda’s driver, recalled Betty telling her. It turned out the two had met a month in advance of at a area bowling alley.

“Courage, kindness, compassion,” Chew told The Post of Betty. “Most men and women would just pass by. But to prevent and operate up to me? A miracle!”

Betty had longed to journey given that she was a kid — often hanging out at San Francisco Global Airport just to view the planes acquire off — but her mother and father ended up constantly too active operating. As a flight attendant, she was capable to acquire her sisters to destinations like China, Japan, Hawaii, Canada and England.

“Betty generally flew nonstops to San Francisco in order to see her family,” reported Michelle Brawley Ferragamo, a co-employee. The rest of the crew could point out supper strategies, but Betty would say, ‘Have fun — I’m heading home.’”

On Sept. 11, 2001, when news broke of the initial plane flying into the Entire world Trade Centre, Betty’s siblings tried using desperately to get to her. At initial, airline staff members certain them she was not on Flight 11.

FILE- In this Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 file photo, fire and smoke billows from the north tower of New York's World Trade Center after terrorists crashed two hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center and brought down the twin 110-story towers. A bill passed by Congress allowing the families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government has reinforced to some in the Arab world a long-held view that the U.S. only demands justice for its own victims of terrorism, despite decades of controversial U.S. interventions around the world.
Smoke billows right after hijackers flew Flight 11 into the World Trade Center’s North Tower on Sept. 11, 2001.
Betty Ong
Newspapers honor Betty Ong’s heroics on Sept. 11, 2001.
Countrywide September 11 Me

But then the spouse and children listened to about a courageous attendant who had presented facts from the aircraft. “I said to myself, ‘That has to be Betty,’” Cathie recalled.

They realized extra about Betty’s heroism two months later on at her memorial — the place Chew, the driver she experienced assisted, sang Whitney Houston’s “Hero.”

A woman released herself to Cathie as Nydia Gonzalez, an American Airlines personnel. “I’m the particular person who spoke to your sister [from the ground],” she informed Cathie.

“You need to have to be extremely proud of your sister. She presented a good deal of details quite calmly.”

Betty Ong
Betty Ong’s household donated her American Airways lapel pins to the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
National September 11 Memorial & Museum

That is when the Ong family acquired about a recording of Betty’s discussion with American Airlines ground crew.

When they asked to hear it, Cathie explained, the airline reported the FBI would not enable it.

“I was indignant,” Cathie mentioned. “We wanted to know the reality of what occurred to our sister.”

A connect with to Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts got results, she recalled. “The up coming day, American Airways identified as me and questioned, ‘When and where do you want to hear to Betty’s tape?’”

The family listened in dismay as the recording uncovered that the ground crew did not immediately grasp the seriousness of Betty’s simply call and kept inquiring the same inquiries, squandering valuable time. When the get in touch with was maddening, the relatives is glad it was captured on tape.

“I’m incredibly grateful that we were being equipped to know the previous few minutes of Betty’s lifestyle,” sister Gloria Ong explained.

Betty Ong's sisters, Cathie Ong Herrera and Gloria Ong Woo, pose for a portrait at Fiscalini Ranch Preserve in Cambria, CA.
Betty Ong’s sisters Cathie Ong Herrera and Gloria Ong Woo.
Roger Kisby
Betty Ong
Cathie Ong-Herrera famous how her sister “gave her everyday living for her country.”
Nationwide September 11 Memorial & Museum

In 2004, the Ong household created a foundation in Betty’s honor. It funds summer time camp for kids and social courses for seniors at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco.

“We keep on to maintain her legacy alive by the function we’re carrying out,” Cathie explained. “We want to mirror who Betty was.”


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