Among those who died in the September 11th terror attack 20 years ago is Betty Ong, an American Airlines flight attendant who calmly alerted her that hijackers had taken over flight 11.
The woman at the other end of the call from Ong was Vanessa Minter, an American Airlines agent based in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“I remember her saying, it’s okay. We’re landing. We’re making a turn to land,” Minter told WTVD-TV. “The last thing she said to me was, please pray for us. And I lost it.”
Ong relayed important information that fateful day during a 15-20 minute phone call which Minter was able to pass on to authorities. It was the first indication on the ground that something was wrong.
“For the small and short time I had to deal with her, she was an amazing person,” Minter continued. “I don’t even know that I could’ve done what she did. To me she was the front line.”
Minter called Ong a “hero…she was the hero, not me.”
In San Francisco, where Ong is buried and the Betty Ong Chinese Recreation Center is named in her honor, Harry Ong listens to Minter’s remembrance of his sister.
“That’s the first time I’ve heard those words from Vanessa,” he told ABC7 News. “The last contact was in 01′ with a letter from her. She was a very private person who didn’t want to be contacted or to discuss anything. To know now. 20 years later that her tribute to Betty and to the others…it’s very meaningful. That you were able to get a quote from her and tell us this.” said the misty-eyed Harry.
Nydia Gonzalez is another American Airlines operation specialist who spoke to Ong moments before the plane crashed into the World Trade Center. Gonzalez would testify before the 9/11 Commission.
She has also spoken to the family.
“She told us that Betty asked for prayers for everyone on the flight,” Ong said to NBC. “She wanted us to know that Betty was very professional and very calm throughout the call.”
Ong grew up in San Francisco Chinatown and had a love for travel. A foundation has also been set up in her name.
“What I’ve like the world to know. Especially in this time of divisiveness and hatred for one another by a lot of people is that the goodness of 9/11 and the aftermath is so positive. I wish we can regain a lot of those thoughts and feelings for each other and humanity,” Harry Ong said.
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