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Madeline Amy Sweeney

Madeline Amy Sweeney, known as Amy Sweeney, was a stewardess on board American Airlines flight 11 when it was driven into the North Tower of the World Trade Center as part of the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack. She relayed information about the hijacking on board by phone to her supervisor on the ground. Flight 11 was the first plane to crash and her call was apparently the first news of the hijackings.

It is not known exactly where on board she was calling from. Information relayed included the seat numbers and descriptions of four of the hijackers, although the FBI later named five hijackers on board the flight. It is said that the information given enabled investigators to link the day's hijackings to Al-Qaeda.

Her report was delivered in a calm, deliberate manner, an airline official said, to the very end, when she slowly stated, "I see water and buildings. Oh my God! Oh my God!"

She was 35 when she died. She had been a flight attendant for 12 years. She left behind a family of a husband and two children, aged 4 and 5. They lived in Acton, Massachusetts. She normally only worked weekends, but had chosen to do an extra shift that day.

On Feb 11, 2002, she was commemorated in a series of new annual bravery awards initiated by the Massachusetts government. The annual Madeline Amy Sweeney Award will be awarded every September 11 to a Massachusetts resident who displays extraordinary courage in defending or saving the lives of others.

The first recipients were Ms. Sweeney and fellow flight attendant Betty Ong, who had also relayed information about the hijacking to personnel on the ground. Pilot John Ogonowski also received a posthumous award for turning a radio switch on and thus allowing ground control to listen to remarks being made by the hijackers. All three had been Massachusetts citizens.

Relatives of all three accepted the awards on their behalf.


  • "In her nation's darkest hour, she responded with a selfless bravery that illustrates the very best of human nature. She was empowered by her ability to shed light where none existed." -- Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift[?], presenting the award to Sweeney's children.
  • "She calmly and in a detailed fashion told us that Flight 11 had been hijacked, which was nothing short of a miracle." -- American Airlines flight services manager Michael Woodward, who took the call from Sweeney.
  • "She would have said she was just doing her job." -- Michael Sweeney, her husband, a police officer.

Tributes and comments

External Link

  • BBC report (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1556096.stm) on Amy Sweeney.

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