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The Courage of One
By M R Wood
Thursday, July 18, 2002
Not rated by the Author.
***** October 17, 2003 ****
We interrupt this broadcast to bring you this late breaking story from O’Hare airport in Chicago:
Jason: Good evening this is Jason Street and this is National World News. In a spectacular chain of events right out of a Hollywood script disaster was avoided in the skies over the Windy City today. Through the heroics of one man a terrorist hijacking was short circuited and 160 lives were saved. Here is Gwen Colton with the details.
Gwen: Thank you Jason. I am here live with Samantha Rodriquez a passenger on World Global Airway’s (WGA) flight 1403 where the foiled hijacking took place.
Ms Rodriquez, you were sitting in the seat next the passenger that stopped the hijacking?
Ms Rodriquez (shaken and tearful): Yes
Gwen: I might add here Jason that the passenger in question was a Mr. Samuel Gracemen.
Ms Rodriquez, can you tell us what happened up there?
Ms Rodriquez: I will do my best. The Captain had just turned off the seatbelt sign. In the front of the cabin two men got up and walked towards the first class, I did not pay much attention.
Gwen (trying to reassure her and calm her down): Go on, your doing fine.
Ms Rodriquez (nervous, trying to give a grateful smile to Gwen): All of a sudden the two men began screaming at one of the cabin crew to open the cockpit door. They somehow had pistols and one of them had it pointed at her head. I don’t think she knew what to do. Then the other man turned to one of the passengers in the first row and shot them.
**** At this point Ms Rodriquez breaks down and can’t go on ****
Gwen (her arm around Ms Rodriquez and looking into the camera): Jason, gives us a moment here, back to you.
Jason (visibly affected): No worries Gwen. Standing by I have Captain Randy Hines the pilot of the flight. Captain Hines, can you shed any light on what happened when the terrorist tried to get into the cockpit?
Captain Hines (obviously ex military): We heard the gun go off and immediately turned on the cabin surveillance cameras and secured the cockpit door. As you are probably aware the new security procedures forbid us from opening the cockpit door during an apparent hijacking attempt. In fact the new locking system will not release until we are on the ground. We felt helpless as we watched.
As the cameras came on I could see the smoke from the gun lingering, the passenger in seat 1A apparently dead. The terrorist were brandishing their guns screaming at the passengers and the cabin crew. Sarah, the crew member they had seized was crying uncontrollably. Even if she wanted to she could not have opened the cockpit door. Somehow it did not matter to the two men. They screamed, she fell apart and they shot her.
**** Now the Captain unable to continue begins to sob and waves the camera away ****
Jason (trying to stay composed and looking into the camera): For you just tuning in, we are reporting on the foiled hijacking attempt that took place just hours ago on WGA flight 1403 bound from Chicago to Washington DC. From what we have learned so far would-be hijackers tried to take over the flight shortly after take-off. At least two people are dead along with 3 hijackers and the man credited for stopping them …. So that makes at least six dead.
What we are still trying to ascertain is what actually happened.
I have just been informed that Gwen is back. Over to you Gwen.
Gwen: Thanks Jason. Ms Rodriquez is still with us. We spoke off camera and I think I can share with everyone her recollection of what happened on board flight 1403. If it’s okay I am going to read from my notes. Ms Rodriquez will be here with me to help clarify things if needed.
Here is what she recalls. After killing the cabin attendant and one passenger the hijackers began moving through the cabin moving men to the window seats and women to the aisle. They started in the front of the plane and moved towards the rear of the plane. Ms Rodriquez and Mr. Gracemen were seated in aisle 20 near the back.
Mr. Gracemen, a 50 something, heavy set man began slowly taking off his belt and wrapping around his hand. She says his eyes never left the terrorist. He then slowly pulled up the cushion in the empty center seat and slid the belt under it. Ms Rodriquez had no idea what he was doing or planning but was too afraid to say or do anything. Mr. Gracemen then slipped two flight magazines into his pants and shirt so they covered his stomach and chest.
As the terrorist reached row six a man stood up and tried to stop them. We believe he was an Air Marshall. However, in about row 8 another man jumped up and shot him before he could do anything. Apparently there were three terrorists and the third was there for backup. This created panic in the cabin.
Ms Rodriquez feels that this man did not die in vein because it allow Mr. Gracemen to finish what he was doing, which now we know was preparing to fight back.
Jason (interrupting): Excuse me Gwen, are you saying that a seventh person was killed on board and it might have been an Air Marshall?
Gwen: Yes Jason that is what we are being told at this time.
Jason: I just wanted to clarify that for our viewers. Please continue.
Gwen: I understand Jason and feel free to jump in at any time.
Now all three hijackers were relocating the passengers row by row. When they got to Mr. Gracemen’s row he acted very afraid, keeping his eyes down and staying hunched over. First he stood in the aisle letting Ms Rodriquez out and then as he slid in toward the window he stumbled. It was then he grabbed the belt from under the seat and whipped the buckle into the head of one of the terrorist. With his other hand he grabbed the seat cushion and pushed it up against the terrorist.
Jason: Gwen this is unbelievable. Are you telling me that a guy in his 50’s did this? Where were the other terrorists?
Gwen: I know Jason, but wait there is much more.
Apparently as he pushed the cushion up against the terrorists chest the gun discharged and killed the terrorist. From what we can gather this was not part of Mr. Gracemen’s plan, but we will never know.
Anyway, the terrorist dropped to the floor and one of the other terrorists shot Mr. Gracemen in the chest. As Ms Rodriquez tells it, Mr. Gracemen flew back against the seats and then forward right on top of the dead terrorist.
Jason you have to remember that all this happened in a matter of seconds.
The other two terrorist began screaming and hitting the passengers as they made their way to where all this took place. One of the terrorist stood over Mr. Gracemen, apparently facing him and was bending over to put his gun to the back of Mr. Gracemen’s head when Mr. Gracemen turned and shot him in the face. Somehow the shot he took in the chest did not kill him and he was able to find the gun of the terrorist he had fallen on. Unfortunately as the terrorist’s gun also fired killing Mr. Gracemen instantly.
Jason, this is the most amazing part of all, after seeing two terrorist’s die before his eyes the third shot himself.
Jason: I….I.. I’m speechless Gwen. And through all this the pilots watched on?
Gwen: That is the way its playing out Jason. However the surveillance video will help to confirm all this. All I can say that Ms Rodriquez’s account seems to be consistent with those of the other passengers we have spoken with.
Jason: Gwen have you been able to get any information as to who Mr. Gracemen is, his background or anything like that?
Gwen: Not yet Jason but I am sure there is more to this story yet to unfold. That’s all from O’Hare, back to you Jason.
Jason: Well there you have it. Through the efforts of who can only be described as a new national hero, a potential terrorist hijacking has been avoided; unfortunately costing him his life in the process. Who is Samuel Gracemen? I am sure we all want to know more about this amazing gentleman. Stay tuned for more on this unfolding story. Good night.
**** October 24, 2003 ****
Jason: We interrupt our normal program to bring you a special statement by President Bush.
President Bush (live coverage): On Friday America embraced on of her heroes, Mr. Samuel Gracemen. Mr. Gracemen gave his life to save the lives of 160 passengers that day. He did America proud. He stood up against Evil Doers and was victorious. His actions honor us all (somewhat teary eyed).
I want to tell you a little about Samuel Gracemen. Samuel served his country in Vietnam. He was a Green Beret. He was also a victim of post traumatic stress syndrome and Agent Orange. Samuel retired from the service 10 years ago with the rank of Captain. He is survived by his wife Kate, his daughter Cindy and Son Jeremy.
Samuel’s experience served him well the other night. He allowed himself to be put in harms way. He paid the ultimate price for his bravery.
Today, I am honored to bestow the Distinguished Medal of Honor on Samuel Gracemen. I am also extending to his wife and family full military burial rights at Arlington. Finally I am calling on Congress to declare October 17 “National Hero’s Day” in honor of Samuel Gracemen and all the other brave citizens of this great country who lay down their lives to protect us all. Thank you.
Jason (somber, holding back tears): Wow, I don’t feel worthy to add to that. Good Night.
© Michael R Wood 2002
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|Reviewed by Tinka Boukes
|Now this is one write that did shake me up completely...no wonder I stress whe "business" is calling!!
You truly did a vivid job here....knees shaking!!
|Reviewed by Cathy Montgomery
|A very realistic, powerfully written story--
it unfolded before my eyes and I felt just
like Katharine did. Very potent impact...
|Reviewed by Kate Clifford
|I felt like I was in front of a tv witnessing everything through the media. Great job!|
|Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner
|Kept me hooked...excellent write! Great job!! (((HUGS))) and love, Karla. :)|
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|ABSOLUTELY POWERFUL WRITE, MY FRIEND!! GREAT WORK!! luv, karen lynn in texas.|
|Reviewed by Linda Hill
|Terrific story....vivid imagery! Excellent , my friend!|
|Reviewed by Kay P Devenish