Remembering 9/11: Press Secretary for Gov. Ridge remembers flying to Shanksville

Remembering 9/11

(WHTM) — On Sept. 11, 2001, former Governor Tom Ridge flew to Shanksville to witness the devastating scene where United Flight 93 crashed. And Ridge’s Press Secretary joined him on that flight and reflected on that day, 20 years later.

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By late afternoon on 9/11, Gov. Tom Ridge was rushed to the scene of the crime in a remote part of his state.

“It was a loud helicopter, you couldn’t talk to anybody,” Press Secretary Steve Aaron said, who joined Gov. Ridge on that day on the Army Chinook.

“We started to circle so I knew we were close. They wanted to give him a vantage point to the crash site and of course it was just a smoldering hole. There was really nothing to see,” Aaron said.

Nothing to see, lots to do, as the governor spoke to the world.

“I will never forget we walked over to the area where the media was where I counted 88 TV cameras that were waiting for him just a few hours after,” Aaron remembered.

America’s worst hour was perhaps Ridge’s finest.

“I was struck by his poise and how he handled that. We were still in the middle of an attack and still digesting and how do we comprehend what just happened to us. His ability to bring some sense of calm, a sense of we’re gonna find out what happened. We’re gonna take care of people,” Aaron said.

After the briefing, it was back to the Capitol.

“I think my most lasting memory of that day is the flight back because at that time it’s late afternoon. Again a beautiful day, the back of the helicopter wide open and you see the sun setting as you’re flying west to east. Knowing that our world had changed forever, changed in a very dramatic way,” Aaron said.

America was attacked on 9/11. And on 9/11, 40 brave Americans fought back.

“They decided they were not going to let that plan reach its intended target, and that story of selfless bravery and heroism I think is more relevant than ever today. What happened in the skies above Pennsylvania was truly a remarkable event that did change the course of history and likely saved countless lives in Washington,” Aaron said.

As we know, Tom Ridge resigned as governor to become the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and Mark Schweiker took over for him.

CONTINUED COVERAGE: Each day leading up to September 11, we’ll share stories of the impact the event had and continues to have on our lives. Read more.

See an interview with Schweiker on This Week in Pennsylvania Sunday at 10 a.m. only on abc27.

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