A “Shero” of the Murderous Skies


“Heros don’t seek accolades or the spotlight with glitz and glamour; Rather, they perform their humanitarian works quietly, unselfishly without a moment’s hesitation.”….Ladyjustice

Betty Ong may not be remembered by name, but she will live in infamy for her acts of heroism beyond all measure. Betty was the first and primary communicator of the initial phases of the worst terrorist act  in modern history. Betty had aspirations to become a flight attendant as a child. However, she far surpassed any career goals with her humanitarian nature. Betty’s flight on fateful September 11, 2001 was Flight 11 originating from Boston, Massachusetts  bound for  Los Angeles, California. In her 14 year career, she achieved the level of “purser” is the chief flight attendant whose duties include supervising other staff, completing detailed reports ensuring compliance with all safety procedures and all passengers safe and comfortable.

Respect and hospitality by the host is the cornerstone of Chinese culture which appeared to serve Betty well. She was the youngest of a family of five children from San Francisco, California, born in February, 1956. She truly was a people person with a special fondness for seniors and children. Her sister wrote that she was  a tireless worker , always going the extra mile, driving into the city to have lunch with seniors and buying trinkets from her travels for children.

Her amazing  professionalism and courage her fire along with colleague Amy Sweeney during her 23 minute call to reservation agents  at the Raleigh-Durham airport was the beginning of events that provided key information and ultimately saved untolled additional lives!

Okay, my name is Betty Ong. I’m number 3 on Flight 11. And the cockpit is not answering their phone, and there’s somebody stabbed in business class, and there’s — we can’t breathe in business class. Somebody’s got mace or something.

She and Amy continued talking to different entities and related with calmness and  some of the crew had been murdered and hijackers had infiltrated the cockpit. She shared information on the men, including their seat numbers and what they looked like. Their acts provided the “window of opportunity by 20 minutes to  learn the names addresses and other vital information on three of the five hijackers prior to the crash into the North Tower.

With the personal terror put aside, Betty and Amy made the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of their passengers. Had they had time to think, to grieve, we can only image what they contemplated and shared in their final moments.

On February 5, 2017, Betty would have celebrated her 61st birthday.



Tributes to Betty Ong-

2002 Recipient of the “Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery” (named for Betty’s co-worker, Amy) from the State of Massachusetts;  http://www.mass.gov/eopss/crime-prev-personal-sfty/masweeney-award-for-civilian-bravery.html

2011 The Betty Ong Chinese Recreation Center , serving the community for nearly 60 years in San Francisco and a facility in which she played as a child;  http://sfrecpark.org/destination/betty-ong-rec-center/;

Movies – Canadian Actress Jean Yoon depicts the role of Betty in the mini-series the Path to 9-11; and, according to Wikipedia sed a lengthy clip of Betty’s phone call without attribution and family permission to the 2012 movie, “Zero,Dark, Dirty,” apolitical action thriller which endorsed torture in the search for osama bin Laden. Her family subsequently requested a charitable donation from Warner Brothers in her name, give credit on-screen and reiterate that they do not endorse torture during the 85th Academy Awards;

The Betty Ann Ong Foundation, a 501c 3 non-profit,  http://www.bettyong.org/index.htm headed by her sister, Cathie Ong-Herrera  was created in ~ 2006 whose goal is dedicated to childhood obesity .Betty was a staunch believer that a positive attitude breeds self-confidence and self-esteem, which she acquired at an early age.  They endorse Camp Pocono Trails, one of the only weight loss camps accredited by the American  Camp association. http://www.newimagecamp.com/index.html

Finally, an ironic twist on a beautiful tribute to Betty gone horribly wrong! A September 12, 2007 San Francisco article described this tribute below –

Betty Ong is one of several Chinatown natives depicted in a 200-foot-long, 7-foot-tall mural dedicated to Chinese contributions to American history entitled Titled “Gold Mountain.” the mural also includes educators and nurses, Edsel Ford Fong, a waiter made famous by the late Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, and Larry Ching, the “Chinese Frank Sinatra,” who was a longtime entertainer at Forbidden City.

Painted by artist Ann Sherry in 1994 on the side of an apartment building on Romolo Place, the mural has been damaged by taggers numerous times. Each time, Sherry, the building’s owners and community volunteers have stepped up to perform touchups – and twice to restore the mural completely.”

As of 2004, Mural Artist who created this work of art stated,

“I’m done with them. That’s why the mural is painted over,” Sherry said. She said that during the 2004 restoration, which took almost a year, she worked on the mural six days a week for almost a year and was only compensated for transportation and lunch. “It was an absolute nightmare,” she said. “All they could pay me was coming out of their poor little pockets, so I accepted it because at the time I could afford to take a lot of time to do this. … So I basically just did the work, and they let it go to hell again. (It is now re-painted entirely in “institutional beige”)


How very sad that Betty’s memory and others would be repeatedly defaced by criminals yet again! In my opinion, taggers who “perform their art” on pre-existing beauty, serve no good purpose and perpetuate disrespect and violence, qualities which were abhorrent to “our true shero”, Betty.

References- http://www.businessinsider.com/7-incredible-stories-of-heroism-on-911-2015-9?IR=T








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Mary Fetchet – A 9/11 Voice Extraordinaire



Prelude to a crusader:  Musical link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xuVHgz1tJk

Please listen to Dame Shirley Bassey “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (2 min, 24 sec)

Much has been written about 9/11.  Although Ladyjustice is a confident writer after all of these years, even as a homicide survivor,  how does anyone do justice to such an event?  ‘Nearly impossible!  There have been numerous memorials in every state, dedications, fundraisers, media tributes and movies as well as personal gestures from young and old alike.

Amid considerable tears, LJ watched the 10 year anniversary television coverage on a recent Sunday and was witness to the spectacular, well planned and executed Ground Zero Memorial.  This site was indeed awe producing, an environment that was inviting and personally serene as well. Can’t wait to order my ticket and attend before the winter snow flies….

For all of the cynical blog comments noted, including, “F—– it, Move on…” this blogger states unequivocally that you don’t deserve to breathe the same air as the rest of us…  You are self-centered, selfish and totally devoid of compassion!  You will never, ever understand homicide…unless you experience it up close and personal!  But… on to others much more deserving of ink…..

Mary and Frank Fetchet are a couple living in Fairfield County Connecticut (on the doorstep of New York City.)   They happened to have a son Brad, 24 years old, who was working in the World Trade Center Towers on that fateful day. Brad left a reassuring phone message for his mother stating essentially that…”I’m fine… Don’t worry.  We’re in the other tower.  They may even let us out of work early.”

How wrong he was….   Brad’s father, Frank stated that at the time, he felt confident that as his son was “innovative and streetwise” he would probably find his way out. He did not….  He perished with many others.

In Ladyjustice’s opinion, the best account ever that encompasses all aspects of 9/11 with a tremendous amount of information is the former Court TV 2005 documentary called, “On Native Soil.”  This work is an engrossing, touching and shocking journalistic film told from many perspectives.    It provides the viewer a courageous example what homicide survivors are capable of when given the will and determination.  The fact that a small group of surviving families collectively “turned the government tide” and overrode Congress and the wishes of President Bush is truly unprecedented!

The primary force behind this tremendous feat was social worker and mother of Brad Fetchet, Ms.  Mary Fetchet. The “Voices of 9/11” was created by a small group of Fairfield County, Connecticut and New York surviving families after the terrorist bombings and became recognized as the premier organization addressing  the ongoing needs of family members of nearly 3,000 murder victims,  rescue workers, and survivors whose focus is prevention, preparedness and response related to terrorism.

The Critical Time:

The end of 2001 and 2002 was  the critical time in which survivors came together for very important reasons:  to find answers; to hold those responsible accountable; to improve the status quo; to seek comfort and to memorialize their loved ones in a meaningful way.According to detailed information offered in On Native Soil,” the quest for answers was indeed a bumpy road. Congress had oversight of governmental agencies such as the CIA, the FBI and the FAA.  All of these agencies, as well as the Bush and Clinton Administrations “passed the buck,” dropped the ball” and failed miserably!

On June 2, 2002, the families representing 9/11 victims were denied a Federal investigation. The 9/11 families were shocked and appalled to say the least.  As Mary Fetchet put it, “I was naïve enough to believe that people would do the right thing.”  Following the denial, Senators Joe Lieberman (D- CT) and John McCain (R- AZ) introduced a resolution to Congress.  It failed…  After an all night vigil, family members, “faced down” President Bush’s Assistant for Legislative Affairs, Nick Calio.  Calio approached the President and told him despite Washington’s opposition, fearing what would be uncovered, they had no choice but to ‘give in to their demands.” There were 12 public hearings within a 16 month period.  The failures and incompetencies revealed as one views “On Native Soil” were absolutely unbelievable!

The consensus among surviving families was that there was frequent lack of cooperation with Committee member’s questions, stonewalling, and a total lack of responsibility or accountability.  “I’ll have to get back to you on that”;   ”I wasn’t in charge when “X” occurred,” were typical responses.  And one of the few tangible accomplishments three years later when the final report was issued,  included a new government position known as the “Director of National Intelligence.” Next were the tasks of creating legislation from the recommendations and implementing them for the benefit of the masses and future generations.  This is still a work in progress.

Mary Fetchet:  The Person; the Director and her Accomplishments

       Mary Fetchet, LCSW  

Founding Director – Voices of September 11th

Mary Fetchet is the Founding Director and driving force behind VOICES of September 11th. A professional social worker and former educator, Ms. Fetchet co-founded the 9/11 advocacy organization following the death of her 24-year-old son, Brad, in the attacks on the World Trade Center.  

Ms. Fetchet’s mission: to create an organization that addresses the ongoing needs of families of the nearly 3,000 victims, rescue workers and survivors while promoting awareness for prevention, preparedness and response related to terrorism. Her firsthand experience as a social worker and victims’ advocate has uniquely influenced the evolution of VOICES in creating programs that anticipate the long-term, intergenerational needs of 9/11 families and survivors.  

Headquartered in New Canaan, CT. with a recently opened second office in New Brunswick, N.J., VOICES is a grass roots family advocacy group providing support and navigating complicated political systems for over 11,000 members. The international organization serves as a clearinghouse of information for 9/11-related issues, offers links to related resources and provides an expanding range of services. Programs include: support groups, lectures, Day of Remembrance events and forums as well as outreach to all those affected by the events of September 11th.  

Providing Information, Outreach and Programs

VOICES experienced staff provide information, outreach and programs on the many aspects of post-9/11 life, with a particular focus on helping 9/11 families, survivors, rescue and recovery workers and others affected by fostering resiliency through family-based mental health programs.

In September, 2006 VOICES launched the 9/11 Living Memorial Project, a digital archive commemorating the lives of the nearly 3,000 lost at the Pentagon, Shanksville, PA and the World Trade Center site and documenting the first hand accounts of rescue workers and survivors.

VOICES professional staff has conducted hundreds of workshops throughout the United States and met one-on-one with over 800 families to create a meaningful tribute to their loved ones.

The 9/11 Living Memorial Project has grown to an extensive collection of over 30,000 photographs, written materials and personal keepsakes shared by those impacted that tell a meaningful story that will preserve the stories of 9/11 for future generations.

Ms. Fetchet has achieved significant local and national praise for her advocacy work.  A strong advocate for raising national and local preparedness, Ms. Fetchet campaigned for the creation of the independent 9/11 Commission and continues to promote the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations for government reforms. She has testified before the 9/11 Commission, and before the United States Senate and House of Representatives on five occasions. She has made countless appearances on national television programs, and frequently contributes to print and radio news media.  

Ms. Fetchet has served on a number of advisory boards and organizations including: The Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Independent Commission, the National Homeland Defense Foundation, the National Traumatic Stress Network, the Coalition of 9/11 Families, the Family Advisory Committee of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), Columbia’s WTC Evacuation Study as well as the Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Homeland Security Alert System Task Force.  

Ms. Fetchet’s work has brought her substantial recognition that includes being a recipient of the National Justice Award in 2003 and being presented with the ‘Connecticut Hero’ award by Senator Joseph Lieberman in September 2004. She was also named an ABC News Person of the Year in December 2004. Other honors include a 2005 Red Cross Award, a 2005 Rotary Foundation Paul Harris Fellowship, and a 2006 “Connecticut’s Most Uncommon Women” award. A graduate of Columbia University with an M.S. degree,

Ms. Fetchet worked as a clinical social worker at Bridges, an outpatient mental health clinic in Milford, CT. She lives in New Canaan with her husband Frank, and has two surviving sons, Chris, age 22, and Wes, age 29.  

Mary is a tireless advocate for all 9/11 families.  To use a familiar comparison to many readers, she is the “Susan Murphy Milano” representative for surviving families suffering from the most  horrendous terrorist event in history.  She carries the torch for all survivors….   Ladyjustice knows very well that government operates by its own rules,  is steeped in bureaucracy, often for no good reason, other than “tradition,” creates its own problems and is often quite disillusioning to the average person.   [‘Just like the criminal justice system!]    Are we not surprised that it takes sane and reasonable people so long to recover, not only from their tragedies… but by adding insult to injury when forced to deal with the endless frustrations and obstacles encountered by all of these entities?

We are so proud of you , Mary!


To view a wonderful video   “Voices of  9/11  A Take Part Short Film,” go to link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zyuaeiY1aU.

To visit their website and donate: please go to: http://www.voicesofseptember11.org/dev/index.php

To purchase a copy of “On Native Soil,” go to:



Donna R. Gore, M. A.


Homicide Survivor, Connecticut