Surviving family members of passengers on United Airlines Flight 93, which was bound for San Francisco International Airport when it was hijacked and crashed in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001, were emotional today as they absorbed the news that Osama bin Laden has been killed.

Many felt relief and a sense of closure, but others say wounds from the terrorist attacks have been reopened.

Alice Hoagland, of Los Gatos, lost her 31-year-old son Mark Bingham, who was traveling from his New York office to his San Francisco office on the day of the attacks.

Hoagland was astounded to hear of bin Laden’s death – she thought this moment would never come.

“It’s quite a surprise, my faith was restored,” she said. “I felt relief and proud of the U.S. intelligence community and how well it worked with the military.”

Family members of other victims were relieved but shaken. Danville resident Carole O’Hare was flying out her retired mother from New Jersey to the Bay Area when she died on Flight 93.

“I was always hoping they’d catch him one way or another,” O’Hare said, adding that she is not a vengeful person. “I’m relieved that he can’t hurt anyone anymore.”

Three days after the Sept. 11 attacks, O’Hare flew to Shanksville, Pa., where the hijacked plane went down.

“It was traumatic,” she recalled. She said, however, that it was important for her to go, in part because otherwise she feared she would develop an aversion to airline travel.

Over the past 10 years, O’Hare has worked with other Flight 93 families to build a memorial for the passengers, which will be dedicated in New York on Sept. 10.

Patrick White, a resident of Naples, Fla., will travel to San Francisco in August for a memorial motorcycle ride across the country in honor of Flight 93. His cousin Louis “Joey” Nacke II was one of the 40 passengers who died. The ride will end in New York City at the dedication of the Flight 93 memorial.

“Our country will recognize their sacrifice,” White said. “When the commander-in-chief says we will not rest, we stay the course. My expectation is we will do the same in finishing this memorial.”

Now, with bin Laden’s death, the ride will have even more of an impact, White said.
“It certainly opened wounds that had been healing,” he said. “I hope those wounds will heal more cleanly with this scourge removed.”

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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