'There was a Black pilot on that flight?' Remembering LeRoy Homer, pilot on United Airlines Flight 93
On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Melodie Homer wants more people to know her husband’s untold story
Melodie Homer knows her husband is a hero. But she believes the world should know it too.
LeRoy Homer was the First Officer on United Airlines Flight 93, a plane that was hijacked as part of the 9/11 attacks. It crashed into a field in Pennsylvania that morning; all 37 passengers and seven crew members, including LeRoy Homer, were killed.
In the days after the attack, many news outlets focused on the story of the passengers fighting back on Flight 93. President George W. Bush even praised the passengers who had rushed the terrorists to save others on the ground.
"It was a story that everybody probably needed to hear, and wanted to hear," says Homer, who grew up in Hamilton, Ont., in Surviving 9/11, a CBC documentary special.
"But it wasn't just the passengers, everybody had their role to play. None of the crew are mentioned in their narratives."
"People would say to me, 'there was a Black pilot on that flight?' That's how little they knew about who was in the cockpit. And that's a huge part of the story."
Homer feels that once the story was out there, no one was interested in revisiting it to honour LeRoy Homer — or other crew members — as heroes that day.
"The heroes had been identified at that point in everybody's mind. And nobody wants to sort of rewrite history," says Homer.
"It felt like that was a hijacking of everybody else's stories and everybody else's grief. I feel protective of LeRoy and feel protective of his legacy."
LeRoy Homer's dream job had always been to work for United Airlines. He had photo albums filled with photos of the places he'd been. When he travelled, he'd send postcards home to Melodie; they'd usually arrive two weeks after he returned home.
On September 11, 2001, when news of the attacks started spreading, Melodie called the United Airlines office — at that point, she didn't know his plane had been hijacked.
She was able to send a final message to LeRoy in the cockpit: "Please just tell him...I just wanted to make sure that he was okay."
20 years later, the documentary Surviving 9/11 shares the stories of survivors, first responders and family members of people who lost their lives that day.