Thomas ("Tom") Burnett, Jr., was a hero of Flight 93 who led the challenge to the terrorists after they hijacked it. Tom and others on the flight prevented the terrorists from crashing the plane into a civilian site in Washington, D.C., as the terrorists intended. Tom Burnett's rallying cry, "Let's roll," became an inspiration to millions.
While speaking with his wife Deena by cell phone after four Muslim terrorists had hijacked the plane, Deena urged him to remain quietly in the background in order to avoid infuriating the terrorists. Tom's courageous reply was, "We can't wait for the authorities. It's up to us."
Tom, an executive, was seated in first class along with a rugby player and a former college baseball player. A former national judo champ was seated in coach. The terrorists, though trained to kill and having the advantage of control of the cockpit and possibly armed with weapons, could not maintain control against this determined challenged. The terrorists then senselessly crashed the airplane into an empty field, killing all aboard.
The crash site is near the small town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Tom's heroism saved the lives of potentially hundreds on the ground. He is featured in moving photographs of the dead in a 40-foot-long and 15-foot-high memorial near the crash site, accessible from Exit 110 off the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Rt. 281 north for 9.5 miles to Rt. 30, then east 2.4 miles to Lambertsville Road, then 1.7 miles to the site).
Both Tom and his wife Deena had premonitions of this tragedy. As recounted in the book Fighting Back, about a year before the crash Tom had a premonition that he would be involved in something big concerning the White House. As a direct result of this feeling, Tom began attending daily Mass, and explained to his wife why. Some observers felt that the terrorists wanted to fly Flight 93 into the White House to demoralize the American people.
Deena, in turn, had her own premonition about something taking Tom from this life. After giving birth to three girls, Deena was subsequently asked by her mother when she would give birth to a son for Tom. Deena told her mother that God would not give her a son because Tom was going to die in a plane crash. Deena herself was shocked by her own answer, and could not understand why those words came out of her mouth. Due to 9/11, she felt it became clear.