I Will Remember Betty Ann Ong
This is dedicated in Memory of Betty Ong and in Honor of the Ong Family. May God bless you all.
On September 11, 2006, 2,996 volunteer bloggers
will join together for a tribute to the victims of 9/11.
Today, September 11, 2006, I remember Betty Ong, Flight Attendant, American Airlines, Flight 11.
On September 11, 2001, Betty Ong was just doing her job . . . a job she loved. She was a flight attendant for American Airlines, on Flight 11, which was going from Boston, Massachusetts, to Los Angeles, California. Betty had been with American for 14 years and loved her job and
was a tireless worker. Whenever she worked a late night flight, she would never sit down and relax. Even when passengers were sleeping, she would walk down the aisles and softly talk to the passengers who were awake and provide blankets to those who were asleep. It would not be unusual to find Betty caring for a passenger's baby while their parent's rested. (Source)
She was a people person and it was safe to say people loved her too.
Betty didn't start out life as a flight attendant. She was born in San Francisco, California, on February 5, 1956 to a family with four children. Betty and her siblings grew up in Chinatown and she attended George Washington High School (Source).
She had a special place in her heart for children and senior citizens:
She paid special attention to them whenever they were aboard a flight she was working. On many occasions, Betty would drive a half hour from her home, into Boston, to have lunch and take walks with senior citizens. She shared stories about her far away travels with the neighboring children and often had trinkets to give them. (Source)Betty's loving personality made her a perfect candidate to be a flight attendant:
She was feminine, very humorous, very caring, and she loved people," said Cathie Ong, [Betty's sister]. "She saw the humor and loved to bring out the humor. And she just loved to laugh. She had this habit, when she laughed, it was just very distinct. She would slap her knees when she would laugh, yet on the plane she was very professional."On September 11, 2001, Betty showed just how tough she could be.
Passengers and crew members loved Ms. Ong, 45. "She made everybody feel like they knew her right away," Cathie Ong said. "She had a knack for making people feel at ease. But if you were out of line with her, she wouldn't hesitate to put you in place. She was tough when she had to be." (Source)
At about 8:20am on that day, Betty managed to get a call through to a woman named Nydia Gonzalez at the American Airlines Reservation center. It was one of, if not the first, calls with information about the hijackings. She stayed on the line for 23 minutes. (Michelle Malkin has a post up about Flight 11, here, which has a lot about Betty's role that day.)
Betty didn't panic. She calmly and professionally relayed information from the passengers and other members of the crew of Flight 11.
After Ong's description of the scene on board, Gonzalez and a second call-taker asked Ong what seat she was in.Betty's bravery and serenity under pressure helped alert the authorities to the terror that was about to unfold. Her call helped air controllers to decide to ground planes.
Ong identified herself and her seat number, and said, "OK, our number one got stabbed, our purser is stabbed. Nobody knows who stabbed who, and we can't even get up to business class right now because nobody can breathe." (Source)
Ong calmly told ground staff there were possibly four hijackers of Middle Eastern extraction on board.
Ong also reported on the carnage taking place -- the First Class galley attendant, stabbed; the purser, stabbed. The terrorists also slashed the throat of a passenger, who was bleeding profusely. The hijackers locked themselves in the cockpit.
Amid the mid-air horror, Ong remained cool. She identified the seats the terrorists had occupied, enabling the FBI to learn the hijackers' passport details.
Fifteen minutes after Ong first alerted the world to what was happening, the big Boeing suddenly lurched, tilting wildly. She said the pilots were probably no longer flying the airplane. The 767 approached Manhattan, flying ever lower.
Still on the line, Ong said in a composed voice: "Pray for us. Pray for us."
Seconds later the line went dead.
Her ground contact asked: "What's going on, Betty? Betty, talk to me. Are you there? Betty?" (Source)
Betty Ann Ong was only 45 when her life was ended, much to young. She has so much left to do.
Only a portion of Betty's call was recorded. A small segment was played for the 9/11 Commission and Betty's family in January 2004.
"She was outstanding, under those circumstances," Cathie Ong said. "It's hard for us all to imagine ever being in those shoes. My family and I, we cried. She was just exemplary in her performance, her attitude and everything. "
"She was very take-charge, and we were very proud of her. She was very calm." (Source)
The audio from that four minute portion of Betty's call can be heard here (The transcript can be found there too).
Betty Ann Ong was a Hero on September 11, 2001. She made a choice not to passively accept her fate and did her best to save the Crew and Passengers of Flight 11.
Betty Ong will never be forgotten.
Of course, Betty was a lot more than a victim of 9/11:
She was the youngest of four siblings, a loving daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. She was warm, caring, thoughtful, and considerate, always thinking of others before herself. Gifted with a sense of humor, Betty had a knack for making people feel comfortable and putting them at ease. She had a smile about her that could light up a room and lift up a spirit. She could feed laughter to anyone's heart. (Source)Betty's brother Harry paid tribute to her with this poem:
Dear Bee:In honor of Betty, her family has established the Betty Ong Foundation:
I don't know fully why you left us
I don't know fully when you left us
I don't know fully how you left us
But I do know that I miss you so very much
I do know that you left us doing the job you loved best
I do know you left us fighting to the very end
And I do know you did your job most heroically
Oh how I wish I could turn the clock back to make things whole again
This is so much like a dream
I never expected to write you this letter..
Let alone a letter like this for you before me
Each day I wake up waiting for you to call or I.M. me just to say "Hello"
I go over and over the moments we shared together and wish we could share even more
And now as I slowly wake up each day, I realize that I can only talk to you in my heart and know that you are here in spirit
I whisper a little "hello" when I walk by your picture each day
Bee, I will never really say goodbye to you
because you are forever in my heart and soul
Bee, I just want to say I'm so very proud of you
And I really miss you so
Your loving brother, Harry
a not for profit public charity, [it] was established to continue her legacy. The advocacy of the Betty Ann Ong Foundation serves to educate children to the positive benefits of lifelong physical activity and healthy eating habits and to provide opportunities for children to experience the great outdoors so that they can grow to become healthy, strong and productive individuals.
Betty's memory will live through the Foundation's work for the advocacy of children and to give recognition to heroic flight attendants who continue to work hard to keep the passengers safe in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.
May we NEVER Forget.
I know I will never.
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