Betty Ann Ong Foundation

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Betty Ann Ong 1956 - 2001

Betty OngBetty Ann Ong was born on February 5, 1956, in San Francisco, California. She was the youngest of four siblings, a loving daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. She was warm, caring, thoughtful, and considerate, always thinking of others before herself. Gifted with a sense of humor, Betty had a knack for making people feel comfortable and putting them at ease. She had a smile about her that could light up a room and lift up a spirit. She could feed laughter to anyone's heart.

Betty had a great love for children and senior citizens. She paid special attention to them whenever they were aboard a flight she was working. On many occasions, Betty would drive a half hour from her home, into Boston, to have lunch and take walks with senior citizens. She shared stories about her far away travels with the neighboring children and often had trinkets to give them.

Betty worked as a flight attendant with American Airlines for 14 years. She eventually rose to the position of a purser, a head flight attendant. Betty was a tireless worker. Whenever she worked a late night flight, she would never sit down and relax. Even when passengers were sleeping, she would walk down the aisles and softly talk to the passengers who were awake and provide blankets to those who were asleep. It would not be unusual to find Betty caring for a passenger's baby while their parent's rested.

On September 11, 2001, shortly after the takeoff of American Airlines flight 11 from Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts bound for Los Angeles, California, the airplane was hijacked (the first airplane of four to become hijacked that morning). During the hijacking, Betty placed a call to American Airlines reservation agents in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina and relayed vital information about the identities of the hijackers and the hijacking situation on board the airplane. Betty's telephone call was the first call and indication that America was under attack, and her call eventually led to the shutdown of all flights nationwide. Under extreme duress and horrific circumstances, Betty remained calm and professional during her 23 minute telephone call. Prior to the crash of the airplane at the North World Trade Center in New York, Betty selflessly asked the ground crew to “Pray for Us”, and not just for herself.

The other flight attendants on the airplane relayed information for Betty to report while also trying to keep the passengers safe and as calm as possible during the terrifying flight. Betty Ann Ong and the flight crew of American Airlines flight 11 were truly professional and heroic for their actions and in the giving of their lives during the attack of America on September 11th, 2001.