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F-16 pilot who was prepared to take on suicide mission to save lives on 9/11 retires

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F-16 pilot who was prepared to take on suicide mission to save lives on 9/11 retires

Twenty-three years in the past, F-16 fighter pilot Marc Sasseville was despatched on a mission that he thought could possibly be his final.

Two hijacked planes had flown into the World Commerce Heart’s twin towers in New York Metropolis, and a 3rd had struck the Pentagon. Sasseville obtained orders on Sept. 11, 2001 to stop one other hijacked airliner headed for Washington from reaching its goal. That aircraft was United Airways Flight 93, which had been hijacked by 4 al-Qaida terrorists and finally crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

U.S. Air Drive Lt. Gen. Marc Sasseville speaks with Chief International Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz about his retirement and the heroic operation he undertook on Sept. 11, 2001.

ABC Information

In an ABC Information unique interview, Chief International Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz spoke with Sasseville concerning the heroic operation he took on alongside fellow F-16 pilot Heather Penney, who was simply 26 years outdated on the time.

They each took off from Joint Base Andrews close to Washington, D.C., not but understanding what their mission was.

“One of many reminiscences that may stick with me endlessly is seeing the Pentagon on fireplace and having the ability to scent the fumes that have been coming off of that,” Sasseville stated. “The burning concrete, the gasoline from the airplane that it hit.”

Sasseville added that the “occasion and all the pieces that is occurred since, has been a motivating crucial for me that we want to have the ability to proceed to look ahead and be ready for future challenges.”

Sasseville instructed Raddatz that after seeing the destruction, he instantly thought of Dec. 7, 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

“Right here we go once more,” he stated. “We simply acquired attacked once more and we’re actually challenged to reply.”

Finally, Sasseville and Penney obtained the chilling orders to find Flight 93.

As a result of that they had scrambled their jets so rapidly, their fighters weren’t armed with missiles.

“My problem was, how can we take down this very distinctive risk, a civilian airliner … full of individuals, stuffed with civilian individuals?” Sasseville recalled.

Collectively, Penney and Sasseville determined that if required, they might ram the hijacked aircraft with their fighter jets – a suicide mission.

“The coaching kicked in,” Sasseville stated of his determination. “I felt like I used to be on autopilot.”

Sasseville would goal the entrance of the jetliner and Penney would goal the tail part.

PHOTO: Lt. Gen. Marc Sasseville is seen with his wife, Karin Sasseville, and two young children.

Lt. Gen. Marc Sasseville is seen together with his spouse, Karin Sasseville, and two younger kids.

Courtesy of U.S. Air Drive Lt. Gen. Marc Sasseville

At dwelling, Sasseville had a spouse and two younger kids, aged 5 and three, who have been unaware of his mission – together with being ready to present his personal life to save lots of others.

“It is a testomony to Sass’ management that he did not ask anybody else to guide that mission,” Penney instructed Raddatz of his option to intercept the hijacked aircraft. “He would not ask anybody else to present what he was unwilling to present.”

Sasseville and Penney would later be taught that the passengers and crew on Flight 93 stormed the cockpit and fought again in opposition to the terrorists. They regained management of the aircraft earlier than it crashed in an empty subject in Shanksville, killing everybody on board.

“If these heroes on 93 – and by the way in which, these are the true heroes – in the event that they hadn’t taken motion and so they hadn’t executed what wanted to be executed, it will have been a really totally different final result for me and my household,” Sasseville stated.

PHOTO: F-16 pilot Marc Sasseville escorting Air Force One and Pres. George W. Bush on Sept. 11, 2001.

F-16 pilot Marc Sasseville escorting Air Drive One and Pres. George W. Bush on Sept. 11, 2001.

Nationwide Guard

After each pilots landed their plane at Joint Base Andrews for refueling, they took off once more – this time on a fight air patrol mission above the nation’s capital. They didn’t know on the time that they have been about to escort Air Drive One as President George W. Bush returned to Washington. Images taken on the time by the press corps accompanying Bush present Sasseville’s F-16 flying off the presidential jet’s left wing.

When he returned dwelling to his spouse, Karin, and their kids, Sasseville stored quiet about his position on 9/11. He hugged his household tightly, instructed them that he beloved them and stated that he could be away at work “for a very long time as a result of one thing very unhealthy had occurred to America.”

Karin later discovered the story about her husband’s actions that day. Sasseville stated that she was in awe of him, and proud.

PHOTO: Retired Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, the 28th Chief of the National Guard Bureau, hosts the retirement ceremony for Air Force Lt. Gen. Marc Sasseville, the 12th Vice Chief, National Guard Bureau, Joint Base Andrews, May 29, 2024, in Maryland.

Retired Air Drive Gen. Joseph Lengyel, the twenty eighth Chief of the Nationwide Guard Bureau, hosts the retirement ceremony for Air Drive Lt. Gen. Marc Sasseville, the twelfth Vice Chief, Nationwide Guard Bureau, Joint Base Andrews, Could 29, 2024, in Maryland.

Sgt. 1st Class Zach Sheely/U.S. Military Nationwide Guard through DVIDS

Sasseville remained within the Air Drive after 9/11, finally changing into a three-star normal and the number-two officer within the Nationwide Guard.

Now, after 40 years of service to his nation, U.S. Air Drive Lt. Gen. Sasseville retired from the Air Drive on Wednesday. He took his closing flight on an F-16 on Could 15 out of Joint Base Andrews, the identical base from which he and Penney departed on Sept. 11, 2001, with orders to seek out Flight 93 and to destroy it because it made its solution to D.C.

The unarmed F-16 jet that Sasseville flew on Sept. 11, 2001 has been reconfigured by the Air Drive – satirically, to function a goal drone for pilots in coaching to shoot down for apply.

Karin and their kids have been there for Sasseville’s retirement ceremony.

“It has been an incredible honor and a privilege to serve, and a very uncommon alternative for me and my household to make a distinction,” Sasseville stated throughout his speech. “Now, you will have the watch. Thanks all.”

To kick off his retirement, Sasseville and his household are touring to Puerto Rico, taking some much-deserved day without work to relaxation and chill out.

“I will learn to play golf once more,” he stated, including that he additionally plans to rediscover who he’s now and “get again to a standard life.”

Full episodes of “World Information Tonight with David Muir” at the moment are obtainable to stream on YouTube.

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