A heroic last stand
Sept. 14
 - Dateline NBC's Jane Pauley spent an inspiring evening Thursday night with a family in mourning and can only marvel that hearts can be broken and swelling with pride at the same time. Jane Pauley reports.

 

LYZ GLICK SAYS she believes in fate.

Does she believe her husband was fated to be on that plane? "I do, I do," says Lyz. "He was scheduled to fly out on an earlier flight the day prior. Even three days before the flight, he had begged me to have him stay home. He didn't want to go. And I said you have to go. You can't say no to your company. And I think with all the badness going on that God or some higher power knew that Jeremy had the strength to somehow stop some of the bad that was going on. I believe that. I believe that Jeremy was meant for a higher purpose."

What if he hadn't been on that plane? "I'm not asking that," says Lyz. "I'm not going there."  Wherever that doomed plane was heading Tuesday morning, it never got there with its payload of jet fuel and 45 innocent people. And evidence strongly indicates Americans owe a debt of gratitude to the citizen heroes aboard Flight 93.

One of them was 31-year-old Jeremy Glick - the middle son of Joan and Lloyd Glick of Hewitt, N.J. The entire family - including a brother who joined the Dateline interview by phone from Tokyo - wanted to tell us the story of his life and his heroic death as a keepsake for his baby daughter born only 12 weeks ago.

The story began with a phone call Tuesday morning. His father-in-law, Richard Macklin, answered the phone at his home in New York's Catskill Mountains, where his daughter and granddaughter Emmy were visiting.  "We had received a call from Jeremy as he was boarding the plane at seven in the morning - 7:30 - to say good morning to Lyz or goodbye to Lyz," says Richard. "And the baby had been up all night. We let Lizzie sleep, so it was a 45 second call, 'have a good trip' and we'd gone about our business. Lizzie was sleeping."

Jeremy Glick was booked on Flight 93 out of Newark bound for San Francisco. The plane departed on schedule at 8 am. Breakfast was served to 38 passengers by five attendants. They settled in for the five-hour flight, not knowing what the rest of us were watching in horror.


A 20-MINUTE CALL

"My son called from Westchester, said, 'Turn the TV on,'" says Richard. "I turned the TV on, and the crashes were occurring. I just had a gut feeling that Jeremy's up in the air, but hopefully he's gone. And Lyz was up now, and the news was going on. And I was turning TVs off. I didn't want Lizzie to worry that something was going on. I think she knew, or maybe she didn't want me to worry. And then the phone rings at about a quarter to 10. And it's Jeremy. My wife picked up my phone, and she said, 'Jeremy, thank God, we're so worried.' And he said, 'It's bad news.' And he said, 'Let me talk to Lyz.' And that's when they started talking."

What time in the flight did they get the call? "He said they had been up for about an hour, and there was some very bad men that had come onto the plane," says Lyz. "I'm not sure how long they had been up before the plane was hijacked. But he said that the men had a bomb and they had a knife. He said that they were Arabic-looking men. I think he said they were wearing red headbands. The description said that there were three of them. He was very surprised that these people could have boarded the plane."

Did he say that they were flying the plane? "He didn't say anything," says Lyz. "I asked him if the pilots had been in contact with them to tell them what was going on, and he said that no contact had been made by the pilots. It seems that the men had taken over the plane and had moved everyone to the back of the plane and kind of left them there."
Jeremy told her he was calling from the plane air phone. It was a conversation Lyz says lasted for more than 20 minutes.

So he was free to talk? Or was he trying to speak surreptitiously? "He was free to talk to me," says Lyz. "I was a little bit, I think surprised by the aura of what was going on, on the plane. I was surprised by how calm it seemed in the background. I didn't hear any screaming. I didn't hear any noises. I didn't hear any commotion. It almost didn't make sense to me, you know, that such a terrible thing could be happening, yet what I was hearing in the background and in his voice was not as bad as what was really happening on that flight."  There was no hysteria on the ground, either. Lyz's mom had the wit to dial 911 from another line. Authorities patched into the call.

"And we ran and got the cell phone and dialed 911 and tried to get a link where Lizzie was talking to Jeremy and Joanne was talking to the state police and questions were going back and forth," says Richard.  Who exactly was on the other end of the phone? "The New York State Trooper barrack," says Richard. "I'm not sure - maybe in Kingston, New York, or something like that where the 911 call routed."  Were they asking Jeremy questions, too? "They were listening," says Lyz. "They had not been able to - I had heard them tap in, but they were not able to ask questions." 

He said there was a bomb? "Yes," says Lyz.  Did he say what the bomb looked like? "It was something with a red tag around it," says Lyz. "He was confused by it."  But he seemed to believe that it was in fact a bomb? "Yes," Lyz says.
Did he ask about the World Trade Center, or did Lyz bring it up? "He asked me," she says. "I remember I was standing in the living room. It was actually right in front of me on the television. He said, 'Lyz I need to know something.' One of the other passengers has talked to their spouse, and he had said that they were crashing planes into the World Trade Center and was that true. And I hesitated for a moment because he was in the air and I didn't want to tell him something so horrible. What was he going to do with this information, was he going to go into a panic? And I just hesitated for a minute, and I said, 'You need to be strong, but yes, they are doing that.' He didn't know if they were going to blow up the plane or if the plane had another mission."  He didn't tell her that one of the passengers had been stabbed and had already died? "No," says Lyz.


THE PLANE TURNED OFF COURSE

Was there any talk, any exchange, speculating what could they be doing, where could they be taking them? "You know, we were able to ask Jeremy some questions, and it was guided by that 911 call, and he was able to describe where he was," says Lyz. "They were still flying high at the time this happened. They were still able to see rural landscape. And the plane had turned. It wasn't going to California."  He knew it had turned? "Yes," says Lyz. "He felt the plane was circling, and it wasn't going to California."

He was right. Dateline NBC obtained radar data showing the path of United Flight 93. A little more than an hour into the flight, it makes a sharp turn off course near Cleveland, Ohio. Radio communication is switched off.  Dateline has also been able to confirm that a new flight plan was filed from on board, perhaps by a fourth hijacker - the destination, Reagan International Airport. The plane was now on a direct course for Washington, D.C.

"He knew something very bad was going to happen," says Lyz. "What he needed to know was what was going to happen. Were they going to blow the plane up, or was it going to crash into something else, because that made all the difference."

As Jeremy and Lyz debriefed each other, he was beginning to see the diabolical plan - that he was not a hostage, he was strapped to a guided missile. These high school sweethearts, 1988 prom king and queen, married five years last month, brand-new parents, seemed to be saying farewell.  "We said I love you a thousand times over and over again, and it just brought so much peace to us," says Lyz. "I felt the feeling from it. He told me, 'I love Emmy' - who is our daughter - and to take care of her. Then he said, whatever decisions you make in your life, I need you to be happy, and I will respect any decisions that you make. That's what he said and that gives me the most comfort. He sounded strong. He didn't sound panicked, very clear-headed. I told him to put a picture of me and Emmy in his head to be strong."  So she was strong for him as he was strong for her? "Yes," says Lyz. "Neither of us panicked. He knew that he was not going to make it out of there. I was focused on making him know that I was OK."

How did she do that? "I don't know," she says. "I have no idea. I have no idea how I'm so strong right now. You can ask my dad, I'm a very emotional person."  Richard says, "There was a moment when he said they have the bomb when she panicked. And she went, 'Oh my god, Jeremy, a bomb.' And then I could hear her say, 'OK, OK, OK, I'll be strong.' But there was just that moment, and then she had it, and it was like a normal conversation in a terrible situation."

A normal conversation? "It was, Jeremy, do they have automatic weapons?  She was asking questions like I was asking questions? "Yes, right," says Richard. "And he was asking questions, and she would say, 'Jeremy, they're not sure what they want to do. Should they rush the people, or should they just wait?' It was a situation -we've got choice A, we've got choice B.'"

What did Richard think? "I thought there was a chance," he says. "While this was going on, I think we'd turned the sound down on the TV. And there was, they switched to the Pentagon, and there was another crash has taken place while we're on the phone. And we're saying at least he's not in that one."  Lyz says, "I was doing the same exact thing."


FORMULATING A PLAN

So there was hope that he could overcome it. In fact, Jeremy and two other men were hatching a plan in the back of that 757, now a little more than a half hour from the nation's capitol. It was a suicide mission, in a way - not to take lives but to save them.

Another passenger, Thomas Burnett, told his wife by cell phone that three of them were talking about "rushing the hijackers."  Jeremy told Lyz they were going to take a vote. "He was asking me, 'I need some advice - what to do?'" she says. "'Should we, you know, we're talking about attacking these men, what should I do?' And, you know, I was scared about giving him the wrong information. I didn't want to do something wrong and have something terrible happen, and so I asked him if they were armed. And he said he had seen knives. But there were no guns. And then I finally just decided at that instant that, 'Honey, you need to do it'.  "And then he joked. He's like, 'OK, I have my butter knife from breakfast.' You know, this was totally like Jeremy. And then he said to me, 'You know, I'm going to leave the phone here. Stay on the line, I'll be back.' And then I gave the phone to my dad because I didn't want to hear what had happened. And I just prayed, I just sat there and prayed."  Richard listened.


A 'SUPERHERO' TO HIS FAMILY

That this son, husband, father, brother and friend would rise to the occasion comes as no surprise to the people who watched him grow up.  "When Jeremy was little, he was so obsessed with superheroes that he would call her Wonder Woman," says Jennifer.

His nickname was "Green Lantern." It's eerie almost how well he fit the part he would grow up to play.  "Jeremy won the Citizens Cup at age 11," says his mother, Joan. Joanna, his sister, says, "Teddy bear - just fall into his arms."  Jennifer says, "And he was the biggest, you know, 'big guy.' He was a big guy, and he liked big things."  Joan says, "He was a super athlete. He was a judo champion."

But nobody knew he was in harm's way Tuesday morning. In fact, Joan was absolutely certain he wasn't - not knowing he'd delayed his trip.  "I drove home, and we passed by a church, and I said, I have to stop, and I stopped and all of the sudden I opened the door to the church and all of a sudden organ music was playing," she says, "and I knew in my heart he had died."

And 16-year-old Joanna, the youngest of six children, is the one who has to tell Jonah - the oldest brother.  He lives in Tokyo, and because airports are closed, he's still stranded there. Our telephone hookup was their first contact.  "Hey Jonah. It's Lyz. I can't wait to see you," she tells him.  We sat with the family and talked for almost three hours, sharing a lot of good memories, of course, and some tears.  t's just too hard, isn't it? "I have so much to say," Jed says. "I spent my life trying to be like him, and I'm going to keep doing it."  Jennifer says, "You have to celebrate his life - you can't mourn his death. He lived more in his 31 years than some people live in 100 years, and that's what we want Emerson to know. We want her to know how great he was and happy."  Emmy, whose proper name Emerson means strength, will not grow up knowing her father. But she will know that he was a hero - that he died fighting.

I've never seen him cry," says Lyz. "And we had talked about it maybe a couple of months ago. And I said, 'You know, I've never seen you cry.' This is before my daughter was born. And the day she was born, the first time he looked at her, he had tears in his eyes. And then on the phone when I was talking to him - when everything was happening on the plane, he was crying - and that was the only other time that I had ever heard him cry. And I'm definitely the crier in our relationship."
The last thing Lyz heard her husband say was to stay on the line. But she couldn't bear to listen and handed the phone to her father, who did.

"There was no noise for several minutes," says Richard. "And then there was screams, screams in the background and so I said, 'Well, they're doing it.' Another minute, seemed like eternity, but another minute, minute and a half, and then there was another set of screams. And it was muffled. It was almost as if a roller coaster, the noise that you hear. Then there was nothing."

Does the family think it's possible that Jeremy may have saved the White House? "I think so. I think so," they say.
"What he did and what happened on his flight, it gave us a glimmer of hope," says Jared.  Joan says, "I think it does that one person can make a difference, that one person in this country has the opportunity to change this world and make a difference."  Richard says, "Jeremy was a patriot."

United Flight 93 was the only one of four hijacked planes to take no casualties on the ground. Now, a widow at 31, Lyz says she is not angry and she has no regrets.  "I don't feel like there are things left undone with my relationship with Jeremy, you know," says Lyz. "We did it all, and I don't feel like I've left anything unsaid to him, and I don't feel like he's left anything unsaid to me, you know. And I don't think many people who are so young can say that."

Pennsylvania senators Rick Santorum and Arlen Specter visited the site of the crash Friday and said that after examining transcripts of phone calls made from the plane, they concluded that the passengers had tried to overtake the hijackers, and may recommend the Presidential Medal of Freedom. They believe the intended target was the United States Capitol. 

 


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