Flight 93 Salutes African American Heros

Tuesday, February 1, 2011National Park Foundation

Among the 40 people on board Flight 93 were three African American crewmembers who helped to change the course of history on 9/11. First Officer LeRoy Homer, Jr. and Flight Attendants Wanda Anita Green and CeeCee Ross Lyles had a combined service record of more than 35 years with United Airlines when Flight 93 took off from Newark, New Jersey en route to San Francisco, California. Their quick thinking and resourcefulness, along with that of their fellow crewmembers and passengers, were ultimately responsible for preventing the hijacked plane from reaching the nation’s capital.

Wanda Anita Green, 49, had been with United Airlines for almost 30 years, fulfilling a passion for flying and seeing the world. According to her mother, Wanda was one of the first African Americans to join United Airlines as a flight attendant. Wanda was a dedicated mother to her daughter, Jennifer, and her son, Joe Benjamin, a deacon in her church and active in her local community in Linden, New Jersey. She earned her real estate license and planned to open her own real estate office after retiring from United. Wanda planned to visit her family in Oakland, California during her layover following the September 11 flight to the West Coast.

LeRoy Homer, Jr., 36, earned his pilot’s license at age sixteen and, after graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1987, served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He began work for United Airlines in 1995 and continued his military career with the U.S. Air Force Reserves, achieving the rank of Major. LeRoy and his wife, Melodie, married in 1998, settled in Marlton, New Jersey, and had a nine-month old daughter, Laurel.

CeeCee Ross Lyles, 33, had changed careers only nine months prior to September 11, 2001, leaving a position as a police officer in her hometown of Fort Pierce, Florida. She and her husband, Lorne, also a police officer, had been married for a little more than a year, forming a family with four sons: Jerome, Justin, Jordan, Jevon. During the hijacking of Flight 93, CeeCee phoned her husband, reaching their answering machine. Just minutes before the crash of Flight 93, she phoned her husband again, revealing the plans the crew and passengers had to fight the hijackers. Lorne recalls that CeeCee told him, “Tell the boys I love them. We’re getting ready to do it now. It’s happening!”

To learn more about the Flight 93 National Memorial and how you can help, visit www.honorflight93.org.