How gay rugby fan Mark Bingham saved hundreds of lives during 9/11

PinkNews logo with white background and rainbow corners

The US is remembering the victims of the 9/11 attacks in a series of memorials marking the anniversary.

The attacks killed almost 3,000 people in New York, the Washington DC area and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.

Relatives of the victims have come together at the World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial Plaza for an annual name-reading ceremony honouring every one of the people who died in the attacks on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and inside the plane that crashed in rural Pennsylvania.

During the ceremony, six moments of silence will be observed marking the strikes on the towers, and the Pentagon, the collapse of the skyscrapers, as well as the moment United Airlines Flight 93 went down near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The legacy of those who died continues to live on, with many remembering the story of Mark Bingham.

Mark, a gay rugby fan and sportsman, was a passenger on Flight 93.

Mr Bingham is widely credited with helping prevent further deaths when he helped lead a passenger revolt against hijackers who had seized control of the plane and begun to direct it towards a target in Washington DC.

Rushing the cockpit and risking their own lives, the passengers successfully overthrew the hijackers and managed to bring down the plane in a field.

All 44 people lost their lives aboard Flight 93, but their actions likely saved hundreds more – and Mark Bingham is remembered as one of the many heroes of 9/11.

His mother, Alice Hoagland, a former United Airlines flight attendant, has championed LGBT rights and the issue of airline safety in the years since her son’s death.

The Bingham Cup, a biennial international rugby union competition predominantly for gay and bisexual men, was established in 2002 in his memory.

“I’m proud of Mark and everyone involved in the Bingham Cup,” Ms Hoagland told radio station 702 ABC Sydney.

“I lost my son but gained 60 teams of rugby players,” she said.

Mark was 31-years-old when his expanding public relations business opened a New York office.

He was the last passenger to board Flight 93, returning to San Francisco for a friend’s wedding.

“The phone rang at 6:44 in the morning,” Ms Hoagland recounted. “‘Mum, I just want to let you know I love you’.”

Mark hatched a plan with fellow passengers Todd Beamer, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick, to storm the cockpit and overpower the hijackers.

The actions of the group forced the plane down into a field and avoided the hijackers’ intended target, believed to be the White House or Capitol, potentially saving many lives.