Todd was one of the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93, the flight that crashed in Somerset County, Penn., after he and other passengers tried to overtake the hijackers and regain control of the plane.
And because of those passengers’ heroism, Flight 93 never reached the terrorists’ intended target, and many lives were saved.
In a speech at Wheaton College’s chapel, Lisa said that she and Todd returned from a work trip to Rome the day before 9/11. “Some of you may know a bit of what comes next, but since about half of you were born after this story begins, I’ll take a step back and fill in some details,” she added.
Lisa explained what happened to Flight 93 and why Todd became known as a national hero.
Todd got up early on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, to catch a flight to San Francisco, where his company had its headquarters. “The plane never arrived in California, of course, as it was one of four that day which was overtaken by terrorists and crashed, killing everyone on board,” Lisa said.
“Because Todd and other passengers had placed phone calls from the plane, it became known almost immediately that the passengers and crew on his flight had staged a counter-attack as an attempt to regain control of the plane from the terrorists.”
Todd, for one, was on the line with a phone operator in Chicago for about 15 minutes “as he described what was happening and tried to get information that might help them,” Lisa said. “She eventually prayed with him and listened as he and a team of other men plotted and executed their plan. Her reports of the call were quickly seized on by the media as one moment of strength and resilience in what was otherwise a horrific news cycle, and Todd became a national hero within 72 hours of his death.”
She said that Todd knew his “soul was secure even when his body wasn’t.”
After the phone operator described Todd’s collected demeanor during that call from Flight 93, people asked Lisa how her husband had remained so calm during the crisis.
“I answered those questions the only way that rang true to me: Because Todd loved his life, but he knew that his life was much more than his 32 years on this Earth,” Lisa said during her speech. “His soul was secure even when his body wasn’t because Jesus was his savior.”
Lisa has “done a terrific job” raising the couple’s three kids.
In the wake of the tragedy, people also asked Lisa how she kept from falling apart. “I answered these questions as truthfully as I could, too,” Lisa said. “I’m sure of God’s love and provision for Todd, and I’m sure of God’s love and provision for me and my children.”
The couple’s children — David, Drew, and Morgan — are grown now. And in a new interview with the Daily Herald, Todd’s father, David, said that Todd and Lisa’s kids are doing “just fine.”
“Lisa has done a terrific job as a single mom raising them to be the kind of people that they are and they will be,” he added.