Editorial Salute - 10/13/11 - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Editorial Salute - 10/13/11

Posted: Updated:

On the morning of September 11, 2001, LT Heather Penney, an F-16 fighter  pilot, and one of the first women to become such, was stationed with the Air National Guard, at Andrews Air Force Base.  Her nickname was "Lucky," as in Lucky-Penney.  That morning, she might not have thought so.  With the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon already hit, she and her commander were given an immediate mission: launch, find , then bring down, that 4th hijacked airliner, predicted to be heading for key buildings in D.C.  The thought of shooting down a civilian airliner was agonizing enough, not to mention the inerasable-memory.  Thinking her mission couldn't possible get worse, it did.  As LT Penney and her commander scrambled to launch their fighters for the intercept, they would be doing so unarmed.  Having just returned from combat exercises in Nevada, their jets carried no rockets, still armed, only, with dummy-bullets!   It would take an hour to re-load, time they simply didn't have.  So, their only option would be to ram that hijacked airliner in mid-air.  Ejecting safely would then be, at best, doubtful.  Her commander said he'd aim for the cockpit. "Lucky" agreed to go for the tail.  With that, they flew-off, in search of that hostile airliner.  In the end, neither of these courageous, nation-above-self pilots would have to face death that day.  Brave passengers aboard United Flight 93 challenged the radicals, their plane eventually crashing in Pennsylvania, sadly, as with the three others, killing all on-board. Reflecting back on that morning, now-Major Penney said:  "I genuinely believed that was going to be the last time I took off."  Thanks to countless heroes that fateful day, and since, life was allowed to go one for our people, and our nation.

Powered by WorldNow