Talk Radio News Service has covered many of the 9/11 events. I elected to go to the Flight 93 memorial. Like many Americans, I was taken aback by what I had learned about the passengers of United Flight 93.
I had heard so many stories from Cholene Espinoza, Talk Radio News Service’s military correspondent. Cholene was a cadet with LeRoy at the Air Force Academy and had just been running with LeRoy in London about six weeks before 9/11. She was supposed to fly that morning to San Francisco as a passenger on Flight 93. Cholene was going to begin flying from there as her base the next day, but the crew desk planned to send her to Chicago instead. By then 9/11 happened and flights were not flying.
On Sunday she shared her memories of LeRoy. “He just didn’t have a chance,” Cholene told us.
“Who knew when we were preppies (at the Air Force Academy Prep School) and joking around that he’d one day be part of one of the worst days in human history? I can still picture him in D squadron with his yellow polyester hat on, or rollerblading along the water in Manhattan Beach, or walking in Hyde Park in London and showing me pictures of his daughter, Laurel, and his wife, Melodie.
“He truly did love his family. I had never seen him so happy, nor so excited, as when he spoke of Melodie and Laurel. He was always so easy going and laid back, so when he got excited enough to pull out his pictures, I knew he had a very special family.”
LeRoy Homer was just one of the many people we have come to know about since 9/11. Most of us are familiar with the Flight 93 story, the bravery and heroism of the passengers and crew. The speakers at Sunday’s memorial were eloquent as they reminded us of how the final few minutes of that flight took place. Pennsylvania Gov. Gov Tom Corbett said that the passengers charted a new course, and that they preferred to shorten their own lives by putting and end to the men who tried to steal our spirit. He recounted the story of the Discovery Channel employee who called her stepmother and said that it was going to be harder for her family than it would be for her. Then she broke up the conversation by saying she had to go because they were breaking into the cockpit. She ended the phone call with “I love you.”
Another speaker on Sunday asked, “Where else but in America would the passengers take a vote about what to do?”
The individuals of Flight 93 decided to let go of their lives rather than let the plane make its way to Washington. They died, but their dreams did not. LeRoy’s wife started a foundation to honor LeRoy’s dreams. The website defines the mission that honors his dreams.
“The mission of The LeRoy W. Homer Jr. Foundation is to encourage and support young adults who wish to pursue careers as professional pilots. In addition, the foundation promotes awareness about aviation careers to disadvantaged youth.
“Since The Foundation began in 2002, 13 scholarships have been granted. All 13 recipients received their private pilot license. All but one individual is working in the field of aviation …”
LeRoy would be proud of his family, his foundation and the young people who now dare to achieve their dreams, like he did. We can all be proud of LeRoy, his family members and donors who are helping others achieve their dreams.
If something good happened out of that tragic day in history, it is families like LeRoy’s who have not let the evil that caused 9/11 define them.