During this week of the commemoration of 9/11, I also want to let people know of Ms. Cee Cee Lyles. She was one of the flight attendants on United Airlines Flight #93. The aircraft involved in the hijacking was a Boeing 757-222. The airplane had a capacity of 182 passengers. The September 11 flight carried 37 passengers and seven crew. The seven crew members were Captain Jason Dahl, First Officer LeRoy Homer, Jr., and flight attendants Lorraine Bay, Sandra Bradshaw, Deborah Welsh, Wanda Green, and CeeCee Lyles.
Very few people know of Ms. Lyles. I first heard of her when I decided to do some research of my own when the tragedy of 9/11 occurred. That is when I began to find information across the Internet on Ms. Lyles. Often the victims of 9/11 are shown are White; even on recent major news broadcast programs, the interviewed children of the deceased were all non-Black. Flight attendant Cee Cee Lyles deserves just as much recognition for her bravery along with those who all perished on Flight 93.
The hijacking on Flight 93 began at 09:28. By this time, United Airlines Flights 11 and 175 had already crashed into the World Trade Center and American Airlines Flight 77 was within minutes of striking the Pentagon.
At 9:39 air traffic controllers overheard Ziah Jarrah (one of the hijackers) say, “Hi, this is the captain. I would like you all to remain seated. There is a bomb on board and are going back to the airport, and to have our demands [inaudible]. Please remain quiet.”
Flight attendants and passengers then swung into action, making phone calls to family members and officials. It was from loved ones that they learned of the attack on the World Trade Center, and they made the decision to fight back against the hijackers.
Jeremy Glick called his wife at 09:37:41 from row 27 and told her the flight was hijacked by three dark-skinned men that looked “Iranian”, wearing red bandanas and wielding knives. Mark Bingham called his mother at 09:37:03 from row 25. He reported that the plane had been hijacked by three men who claimed to have a bomb. Todd Beamer attempted to call his wife from row 32 at 09:43:48, but was routed to GTE phone operator Lisa D. Jefferson. He said one of the hijackers had a red belt with what looked to be a bomb attached to his waist.
Flight attendant CeeCee Lyles called her husband at 09:47:57 and left him a message saying the plane had been hijacked.
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By 09:57, the passengers took a vote amongst themselves and they decided to act. The passenger revolt had begun. Rushing the cockpit doors, they were determined to take control of the cockpit from the four hijackers (Ziad Jarrah, Ahmed al-Nami, Ahmed al-Hazawi, and Saeed al-Ghamdi ). Jarrah, who was flying the plane, pitched and rolled it to unbalance the passengers, but they continued their resistance.
Flight Attendant Lyles called her husband once more from a cell phone and told him the passengers were forcing their way into the cockpit. From there the well-known statement of passenger Todd Beamer “Let’s roll!” was heard.
The hijackers fought to keep the passengers from entering the cockpit, forcing themselves against the cockpit door. Jarrah told another hijacker in the cockpit at 9:58:57, “They want to get in here. Hold, hold from the inside. Hold from the inside. Hold.”
Jarrah stopped the pitching maneuvers at 10:01:00 and began to recite the Takbir (Takbeer). He then asked another hijacker, “Is that it? I mean, shall we put it down?” The other hijacker responded, “Yes, put it in it, and pull it down.” The passengers continued their assault and at 10:02:23, a hijacker said, “Pull it down! Pull it down!”
At 10:03:11, near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the plane crashed into a reclaimed coal strip mine in Stonycreek Township in Somerset County. The National Transportation Safety Board reported that the flight impacted at 563 miles per hour at a 40-degree nose-down. The impact left a crater eight to ten feet deep and 30 to 50 feet wide. All 44 people on board–cockpit crew, flight attendants, passengers (as well as the hijackers)— died.
The intended target of United Airlines Flight 93 was never determined.
Flight crew: CeeCee Lyles
Sunday, October 28, 2001
Smart, strong and street-savvy, CeeCee Lyles had a golden future ahead of her as a cop.
United Airlines flight attendant. Former police officer, 33, Fort Myers, Fla. (Family photo)
Husband, Lorne; sons, Jerome Smith, 16, Jevon Castrillo, 6, Justin Lyles, 11, Jordan Lyles, 9.
She was working in the rear section of Flight 93
In six years with the Fort Pierce, Fla., Police Department, she’d worked her way from patrol officer to detective and was respected for her willingness to tackle fleeing criminals. Slated for promotion to sergeant, Lyles augmented her income by moonlighting at a hospital and power plant, providing a comfortable life for her sons, Jerome Smith and Jevon Castrillo.
After coaxing soft-spoken, handsome police dispatcher Lorne Lyles to join the force in 1997, she married him three years later and made his sons, Justin and Jordan, her own. But last fall, after Lorne spotted an ad for job openings on a United Airlines web site, CeeCee walked away from police work and, on Oct. 11, 2000, fulfilled a lifelong goal.
“She’d always wanted to be a flight attendant so she could travel,” said Lorne Lyles, 31, now a police officer in Fort Myers, Fla. “After years of police work, her kind heart got tired of seeing the sad part of the job.”
CeeCee grew up in Fort Pierce and raised her sons on her own until she married Lorne in May 2000 and later moved to Fort Myers. Emulating her mother and aunts, she never took welfare, instead working two or three jobs while volunteering at Restoration House, a Christian women’s shelter that two of her aunts founded in Fort Pierce.
“CeeCee was a role model, showing women they could make their own way without leeching off the system,” said her aunt, Mareya Schneider. “In the last few years, she really dedicated herself to the Lord and she would use Scripture to explain that if you don’t work, you don’t eat.”
Easygoing and athletic, with a trademark warm grin, CeeCee spent free time tending to her blended family, playing softball and baseball and helping with police programs for children.
Moments before Flight 93 went down, CeeCee dialed home twice on a cell phone to tell Lorne of the hijacking and of her love for him and their boys. Calmly, she prayed to see her husband’s face again, then beseeched God to forgive and welcome her home — along with everyone else on the plane.
“My wife was a strong God-fearing woman who loved her family. She meant the world to me,” Lorne Lyles said. “It’s hard to figure out what to do next without her.”
On February 17, 2009, Flight Attendant Cee Cee Lyles was honored by her hometown of Fort. Pierce, Florida. In a ceremony attended by her family members, leaders of the city, fellow flight attendantsof the AFA, and Se. Mel Martinez (R-FL), a post office was dedicated to her memory. In 2003, a bronze statue in Liberty Garden, IN Fort Pierece in Veteran’s Memorial Park to memorialize the United flight attendant and Fort Pierce native.
Many people look at those who lost their lives on Flight 93 as vicitms.
I prefer to see them as heroines and heroes who gave their lives that others may live.
I thank them for their courage under fire.
I honor and salute you, Cee Cee Lyles, for your bravery and resolute strength.
SUMMARY OF FLIGHT 93: UNITED STATES vs. ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI (This download opens in a ZIP file.)
ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: 9/11 – A MOMENT OF SILENCE AND REMEMBRANCE
SIGN THE CEECEE LYLES GUESTBOOK HERE