Mark Bingham was on board United Flight #93 from Newark to San Francisco on September 11, 2001. The story that emerges is roughly as follows. Hijackers seized control of the plane, and the plane's captain, Mr. Jason Dahl, left the cabin microphone open in order to warn passengers of the situation. This was approximately 30 minutes after the third of the four hijacked planes crashed into the Pentagon; some of the passengers of Flight #93 used cell phones and heard the accounts of the other planes flying into the World Trade Center.
Until this date, plane hijackings had typically involved landing at an airport where the hijackers would negotiate for political objectives. Also, the hijackers on Flight #93 claimed to have a bomb (no evidence to date that this was anything but a threat). Considering those factors, the passengers of the first three airlines probably did not offer much resistance to the hijackers until it was too late, for fear of setting off the bomb. However, having heard about the World Trade Center attack, the passengers on Flight #93 apparently realized that this was not a "typical" hijacking and resolved to make a stand. According to calls received from other passengers, at least three of the men on the flight had voted to attack the hijackers. Flight #93 subsequently crashed in a wooded
area... whereas its flight path before the crash could plausibly have been intended to hit Camp David, the White House, or other Washington-DC targets.
During the hijack, Mark used the plane's cell phone to call his mother. After telling his relatives that he loved them, he apparently became distracted by events on the plane and the line went dead.
I don't have any direct evidence that Mark Bingham was among the men who attacked the hijackers. However, I and many others speculate this was so, because Mark was young, fit, and tall and athletic. (He played rugby for UC Berkeley during several of its most successful years to date. An Internet search shows he was a founder and recruiter for a rugby league called the San Francisco Fog.) From knowing Mark, I am certain he would have been a formidable physical opponent, and furthermore I believe he would and did place the well-being of others before his own.
Mark was a Freshman at Berkeley when I was a fifth-year Senior. He was introduced to me by my old friend Jim, who was a member of, and living, in Mark's fraternity. "In Vino Veritas," as they say, and after several beer-soaked nights at the Chi Psi lodge over the course of the year, I knew that Mark was a generous, trusting, and responsible soul. At some point after I graduated and was living at my parents' house in Saratoga, Mark invited me to a spectacular party he threw at his apartment in San Jose. To this day I remember that party as a great night with a lot of fun and interesting people cutting loose -- and many very considerate arrangements to make sure we all got home safely afterwards. That was about nine years before today. After that, we tried to hook up again but never succeeded, so we gradually lost touch and faded out of each others' lives. However, I feel confident that... if only Mark's last flight had touched down in San Francisco, and I happened to run into him... he would have remembered me.
As I write this, the "black box" at the Pennsylvania crash site has not been found. But I am also certain that Mark made a conscious decision to stand up against the hijackers. His decision probably saved hundreds, or even thousands, of lives (at the terrorists' target site) -- at the cost of his own.
Mark, I doubt your spirit is browsing the Internet, but I'll address this to you anyway. You will be an inspiration to me for the rest of my life. Anyone who knew Mark, even as briefly as I did, knows that a little six-foot plot of earth could never possibly contain his spirit. Anyone who knew him, knows he loved the outdoors, and that he had touched the lives of people all around the world -- even before he died a national hero. Hence the poem at the top of the page. Every atom of my being wishes your spirit peace, Mark. You deserve it.
NOTE - I don't remember who wrote this text, as it was sent to me by one of the readers of this Memorial, but I lost his e-mail, so can't ask him the souce. If somebody knows where it cames from, please send me an e-mail telling me me the sorce, so that I can write it here! Thank you.