The haunting last calls and voicemails made by victims of 9/11

The haunting last calls and voicemails made by victims of 9/11
The haunting last calls and voicemails made by victims of 9/11
Melissa Doi and Brian Sweeney were just two of the victims of the terror attack which killed almost 3,000 people (Picture: Julia Sweeney Roth)

As the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack approaches, the world is beginning to reflect on the awful events of that day which still remain vivid in the minds of so many people.

The attack – which saw four planes flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001 – still remains one of the most shocking events in living memory.

Exactly 2,996 people died, including all 265 on board the four planes, and approximately 25,000 more were injured in the events which sent shockwaves across the world.

In terms of the death toll it remains the worst terror attack in history, and the most lethal foreign attack on America since the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 during World War II.

Although 20 years have passed, the individual stories to have come out of that day remain heartbreaking, courageous and incredibly moving.

Brian Sweeney was a passenger on United Airlines Flight 175, which is the plane which crashed into the South Tower in New York.

He called his wife Julie from the plane after it was hijacked, around three minutes before it hit the World Trade Center.

Here is the message he left her:

Jules, this is Brian listen, I’m on an airplane that’s been hijacked. If things don’t go well, and it’s not looking good, I just want you to know I absolutely love you.

I want you to do good, go have good times, same to my parents and everybody, and I just totally love you. And I’ll see you when you get there. Bye, babe. I hope I call you.

FILE - A plane approaches New York's World Trade Center moments before it struck the tower at left, as seen from downtown Brooklyn, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. On that day, Howie Rumberg, working the overnight in AP Sports, came up out of a subway and found himself in the middle of chaos. (AP Photo/ William Kratzke)
The attacks killed 2,996 people, including all 265 on board the four planes, and injured approximately 25,000 more people (Picture: AP)

Julie later explained her husband was a Navy pilot who had served in the first Gulf War, and she believes he would have tried to do something about the attack when he was on the plane.

Speaking in 2014, she said: ‘You hold out this hope, especially for someone like Brian who, this is a silly way to put it, but he was a warrior.

‘And you just didn’t believe that something like this could take him away.

‘So you hold out this hope until it’s validated somehow.

‘And all I needed was that message. And I think he very selflessly left it. I don’t think he left it until he knew that he wasn’t coming home.

‘When I got it, it was just so Brian and it was his final request of me. And his final way to let me know that… he was gonna be ok.

‘And that he believed that he’d see me again. And that’s all I needed to know.

‘I’m thankful for it. So thankful for that message because at least I know without a shadow of a doubt what he was thinking.

Brian Sweeney
Brian Sweeney, a Navy pilot, called his wife Julie from the plane after it was hijacked, around three minutes before it hit the World Trade Center (Picture: Julia Sweeney Roth)

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 10, 2001, a man stands in the rubble, and calls out asking if anyone needs help, after the collapse of the first of the twin towers of the World Trade Center Tower in lower Manhattan, New York. - The remains of two more victims of 9/11 have been identified, thanks to advanced DNA technology, New York officials announced on September 8, 2021, just days before the 20th anniversary of the attacks. The office of the city's chief medical examiner said it had formally identified the 1,646th and 1,647th victim of the al-Qaeda attacks on New York's Twin Towers which killed 2,753 people. They are the first identifications of victims from the collapse of the World Trade Center since October 2019. (Photo by DOUG KANTER / AFP) (Photo by DOUG KANTER/AFP via Getty Images)
A man stands in the rubble the day following the attacks, on September 10, 2001 (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)

‘The calmness in his voice soothed me. So I do have that. And because it’s on a message I’m able to share it with anybody that wants to hear it. And it’s very powerful.

‘He made very powerful statements with that message.’

Another victim of the attack was Melissa Doi, who worked as a manager at IQ Financial Systems, based on the 83rd floor of the South Tower.

She was a graduate of Northwestern University in Illinois and aspired to become a ballet dancer.

She dialled 911 around 15 minutes after her tower was hit by Flight 175 at 9.03am, which Brian was on. She was trapped on her floor alongside five other people.

When the operator answered, Melissa said: ‘Well, there’s no one here yet, and the floor’s completely engulfed. We’re on the floor and we can’t breathe. And it’s very, very, very hot.’

The operator attempted to keep her calm, explaining the emergency services were on their way and trying to get to them.

They said: ‘Ma’am listen, everybody’s coming, everybody knows, everybody knows what happened, okay… they have to take time to come up there, you know that. You got to be very careful.’

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Melissa Doi
Melissa Doi, who worked as a manager at IQ Financial Systems, was trapped on the 83rd floor of the South Tower alongside five others
November 2, 2011 - The South Pool and 9/11 Memorial Museum. North and South pools occupy the footprints where each of the two World Trade Center Towers stood before being destroyed in the 2001 terrorist attack. (Photo by Andrew Holbrooke/Corbis via Getty Images)
One of the two pools now occupying the footprints where the two World Trade Center towers stood before the attack, as a memorial (Picture: Corbis via Getty Images)

Melissa added: ‘Everybody’s having trouble breathing, some people are worse… than others.’

As the tower burned around them, she asked the operator: ‘Can you stay on the line with me, please? I feel like I’m dying.’

Only the first four minutes of the 24-minute total call were published, for privacy reasons.

Near the end of the call she asks the operator to set up a three-way call with her mum so she could speak to her for one last time.

The operator said: ‘We couldn’t put her on. We don’t have a three-way system for that.’

As smoke and heat began to overcome her, she gave the operator a message to be passed on to her mum. The call then cut off.

That evening the operator called Melissa’s mum, Evelyn Alderete, and read her this message: ‘Tell my mother that I love her and that she’s the best mum in the whole world.’

It took three years for Melissa’s body to be found among the rubble.

These are just two recordings out of 1,600 released to the public in the years following the attack.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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Author: Sian Elvin