This ride segment is dedicated to:

Michele M. Heidenberger
American Airlines Flight 77

Michele was the senior flight attendant aboard American Airlines Flight 77 when it was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon. Michele had been an employee of American for over thirty years and grew up in an airline household, her father Richard MacDonald having retired from American Airlines in 1990.

As a flight attendant, Michele was trained to handle the type of situation that unfolded aboard Flight 77. No one will ever know what happened during those final moments aboard that fatal aircraft, but knowing Michele she not just maintained her composure, doing all that she could to allay the fears and concerns of her passengers but most likely confronted the hijackers. She was the consummate professional tolerating very little: placing her passenger’s safety and comfort above all else.

Michele was the consummate Mother thinking of others before herself: from making sure we were up that day with a phone call from the jet way, making sure that the lunch was packed, and wishing us a good day. She was dedicated to her family. Michele is survived by her two children: Alison Mary and Thomas P. II. In the days and months after that day, I am constantly reminded of Michele through our children. Thomas looks like his Mom (a MacDonald) and Alison has the traits of placing others before her own interests, just like her Mom. Were it not for Michele’s’ children , our children, I do not think that I could have survived. They were my Rock just as Michele was my Rock in the days before 9/11 and they continue to be my Rock.

Michele was my best friend, my companion, my lover, my confidant. The best Mom a child could have; the best wife and friend anyone could have. Michele left a wonderful legacy behind, Thomas and Alison. Michele, despite a short life of 52 years, left a mark and impression on so many and is still to this day missed by all.

As we conclude the Ride, it is not the end; it is the continuance of not just Michele’s life but of a statement that Michele was known for constantly making, “get over it”. None of us will ever” get over it” but we will continue to remember the lives of the 3000 who perished that day and try to do what Michele did or would do: continue, go about our lives as best as we can.

Thomas P. Heidenberger

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