Mark Bingham

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Mark Bingham
Mark Kendall Bingham

(1970-05-22)May 22, 1970
DiedSeptember 11, 2001(2001-09-11) (aged 31)
Cause of deathPlane crash (September 11 terrorist attacks)
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
Height6 ft 4 in (193 cm)
Rugby union career
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
Los Gatos High School
California Golden Bears
San Francisco Fog RFC

Mark Kendall Bingham (May 22, 1970 – September 11, 2001) was an American public relations executive who founded his own company, the Bingham Group. During the September 11 attacks in 2001, he was a passenger on board United Airlines Flight 93. Bingham was among the passengers who, along with Todd Beamer, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick, formed the plan to retake the plane from the hijackers, and led the effort that resulted in the crash of the plane into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, thwarting the hijackers' plan to crash the plane into a building in Washington, D.C., most likely either the U.S. Capitol Building or the White House.[2]

His heroic efforts on United Flight 93, as well as his athletic physique,[3] were noted for having prompted a reassessment of gay stereotypes.[4][5][6][7][8][9]

Early life[edit]

Mark Bingham was born on May 22nd 1970, the only child of Alice Hoagland and Gerald Bingham. When Mark was two years old, his parents divorced. Raised by his mother and her family, Mark grew up in Miami, Florida, and Southern California before moving to the San Jose area in 1983. Bingham was an aspiring filmmaker, and as a teenager, he began using a video camera as a personal diary to document his life and those of his family and friends. He graduated from Los Gatos High School as a two-year captain of his rugby team in 1988. As an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, Bingham played on two of Coach Jack Clark's national-championship-winning rugby teams in the early 1990s. He also joined the Chi Psi fraternity, eventually becoming its president. Upon graduation at the age of 21, Bingham came out as gay to his family and friends.[10][11]

Rugby and business career[edit]

A large athlete at 6 ft 4 in (193 cm) and 225 pounds (102 kg), Bingham also played for the gay-inclusive rugby union team San Francisco Fog RFC.[12] Bingham played No. 8 in their first two friendly matches. He played in their first tournament, and taught his teammates his favorite rugby songs.[13]

At the time of his death, Bingham had recently opened a satellite office of his public relations firm in New York City and was spending more time on the East Coast. He discussed plans with his friend Scott Glaessgen to form a New York City rugby team, the Gotham Knights.[14][15]

September 11, 2001[edit]

On the morning of September 11, Bingham overslept and nearly missed his flight, on his way to San Francisco to be an usher in his fraternity brother Joseph Salama's wedding.[16] He arrived at Terminal A at Newark International Airport at 7:40 am, ran to Gate 17, and was the last passenger to board United Airlines Flight 93, taking seat 4D, next to passenger Tom Burnett.[17][18]

United Airlines Flight 93 was scheduled to depart at 8:00 am, but the plane did not depart until 42 minutes later due to runway traffic delays. Four minutes later, American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center's North Tower. At 9:03 am, as United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower, Flight 93 climbed to cruising altitude, heading west over New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. At 9:25 am, Flight 93 was above eastern Ohio, and pilots Jason Dahl and LeRoy Homer received an alert, "Beware of cockpit intrusion," on the cockpit computer device ACARS (Aircraft Communications and Reporting System).[19] Three minutes later, Cleveland controllers could hear screams over the cockpit's open microphone. Moments later, the hijackers, led by the Lebanese Ziad Jarrah, took over the plane's controls and told passengers, "Keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb on board". Bingham and the other passengers were herded into the back of the plane. Within six minutes, the plane changed course and headed for Washington, D.C. Several of the passengers made phone calls to loved ones, who informed them about the two planes that had crashed into the World Trade Center.[20][21]

After the hijackers veered the plane sharply south, the passengers decided to act.[20] Bingham, along with Todd Beamer, Tom Burnett, and Jeremy Glick, formed a plan to take the plane back from the hijackers.[2] They relayed this plan to their loved ones and the authorities via telephone. Bingham got through to his aunt's home in California.[22] Bingham stated, "This is Mark Bingham. I want to let you guys know that I love you, in case I don't see you again...I'm on United Airlines, Flight 93. It's being hijacked."[23][24][25][26] According to The Week, Hoagland formed the impression that her son spoke "confidentially" with a fellow passenger, to form a plan to retake the plane.[22] According to ABC News, the call cut off after about three minutes. Hoagland, after seeing news reports of the plane's hijacking, called him back and left two messages for him, calmly saying, "Mark, this is your mom. The news is that it's been hijacked by terrorists. They are planning to probably use the plane as a target to hit some site on the ground. I would say go ahead and do everything you can to overpower them, because they are hellbent. Try to call me back if you can."[27] Bingham, Burnett, and Glick were each more than 6 feet (1.83 m) tall, well-built and fit. As they made their decision to retake the plane, Glick related this over the phone to his wife, Lyz.[28] Fellow passenger Todd Beamer, speaking to GTE-Verizon Lisa Jefferson and the FBI, related that he too was part of this group.[24][28] They were joined by other passengers, including Lou Nacke, Rich Guadagno, Alan Beaven, Honor Elizabeth Wainio, Linda Gronlund, and William Cashman, along with flight attendants Sandra Bradshaw and Cee Cee Ross-Lyles, in discussing their options and voting on a course of action, ultimately deciding to storm the cockpit and take over the plane.[17][20][21]

According to the 9/11 Commission Report, after the plane's voice data recorder was recovered, it revealed pounding and crashing sounds against the cockpit door and shouts and screams in English. "Let's get them!" a passenger cries. A hijacker shouts, "Allāhu ʾakbar!" ("God is great"). Jarrah repeatedly pitched the plane to knock passengers off their feet, but the passengers apparently managed to invade the cockpit, where one was heard shouting, "In the cockpit. If we don't, we'll die." At 10:02 am, a hijacker ordered, "Pull it down! Pull it down!" The 9/11 Commission later reported that the plane's control wheel was turned hard to the right, causing it to roll on its back and plow into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at 580 miles per hour (930 km/h), killing everyone on board. The plane was 20 minutes of flying time away from its suspected target, the White House or the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. According to Vice President Dick Cheney, President George W. Bush gave the order to shoot the plane down.[20]


Bingham's name is located on Panel S-67 of the National September 11 Memorial's South Pool, along with those of other passengers of Flight 93.

Bingham is survived by his parents and the Hoagland family members who played a part in his upbringing, by his stepmother and various stepsiblings,[17][18] and by his partner of six years, Paul Holm.[29][30] Holm described Bingham as a brave, competitive man, saying, "He hated to lose—at anything." He was known to proudly display a scar he received after being gored at the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain.[30] He is buried at Madronia Cemetery, Saratoga, California.[31]

Bingham's name on the Flight 93 National Memorial

U.S. Senators John McCain and Barbara Boxer honored Bingham on September 17, 2001, in a ceremony for San Francisco Bay Area victims of the attacks, presenting a folded American flag to Paul Holm.[32]

The Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament (referred to as the Bingham Cup), a biennial international rugby union competition predominantly for gay and bisexual men, was established in 2002 in his memory.[33]

Bingham, along with the other passengers on Flight 93, was posthumously awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in 2002.[34]

The Eureka Valley Recreation Center's Gymnasium in San Francisco was renamed the Mark Bingham Gymnasium in August 2002.[35]

Singer Melissa Etheridge dedicated the song "Tuesday Morning" in 2004 to his memory.[36]

Beginning in 2005, the UC Berkeley Foundation and the California Alumni Association named the Mark Bingham Award for Excellence in Achievement by Young Alumni in his honor. According to the university, the goal of the award is to honor "a young alumnus/a who graduated within the last 10 years who has made a significant contribution to his/her community, country, or the world at large."[37] The award is presented at the school's annual Berkeley Charter Gala.[38][39][40][41]

At the National 9/11 Memorial, Bingham and other passengers from Flight 93 are memorialized at the South Pool, on Panel S-67.[42]

At the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania, Bingham's name is located on one of the 40 8-foot-tall (2.4-meter) panels of polished, 3-inch-thick (75-millimeter) granite that comprise the Memorial's Wall of Names.[18][43]

The 2013 feature-length documentary The Rugby Player focuses on Bingham and the bond he had with his mother, Alice Hoagland, a former United Airlines flight attendant who, following his death, became an authority on airline safety and a champion of LGBT rights.[44] Described by ESPN as "an insightful and stereotype-shattering exploration" of Bingham's life,[8] the film, directed by Scott Gracheff, relies on the vast amount of video footage Bingham himself shot beginning in his teens until weeks before his death. The film's alternate title, With You, is a popular rugby term, and one of Bingham's favorite expressions.[10][45] The film premiered on Australia's ABC2 on August 20, 2014.[8]

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ Atkins, Stephen E. (2011). The 9/11 Encyclopedia, 2nd edition. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. p. 71. ISBN 978-1-598-84922-6.
  2. ^ a b "Unexpected legacy left by hero of Flight 93" Archived March 5, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Yahoo! News. September 2, 2011.
  3. ^ King, Samantha (February 2009). "Virtually Normal: Mark Bingham, the War on Terror, and the Sexual Politics of Sport". Journal of Sport and Social Issues. 33 (1): 12. doi:10.1177/0193723508328631. S2CID 144095777.
  4. ^ Thomas, Kevin (June 15, 2011). "Frameline 2011: A Closer Look at the Coming Weekend". San Francisco Examiner.
  5. ^ Macguire, Eoghan (April 10, 2019). "The 9/11 hero whose legacy lives on through rugby". CNN. Archived from the original on April 11, 2019. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  6. ^ Cormack, Lucy (August 20, 2014). "Gay rugby advocate Mark Bingham celebrated in documentary". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on September 13, 2021. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  7. ^ Nieves, Evelyn (January 16, 2002). "Passenger on Jet: Gay Hero or Hero Who Was Gay?". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 11, 2012. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  8. ^ a b c Withers, Andy (August 20, 2014). "Mark Bingham: the rugby player and his legacy". ESPN. Archived from the original on September 13, 2021. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  9. ^ Buzinski, Jim (September 10, 2021). "Gay rugby player Mark Bingham was a hero of 9/11". Outsports. Vox Media. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  10. ^ a b Woolf, Tiffany (July 2011). "Sneak Preview Screening: Outfest: The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival". Archived from the original on October 17, 2012.
  11. ^ Siek, Julia Prodis (September 11, 2011). "Messages for Flight 93 passenger capture fear, resolve on Sept. 11" Archived September 11, 2018, at the Wayback Machine.San Jose Mercury News
  12. ^ Barrett, Jon (January 22, 2002). "Person of the year: This Is Mark Bingham". The Advocate. Nos. 854-855, ISSN 0001-8996, pp. 41, 42.
  13. ^ Zavos, Spiro (December 23, 2009). "Mark Bingham is rugby union's iconic gay player" Archived October 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. The Roar.
  14. ^ "Mark Bingham" Archived November 2, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Gotham Knights Rugby Football Club. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  15. ^ Barret, Jon (January 22, 2002). "Person of the year: This Is Mark Bingham".The Advocate. Nos. 854-855, ISSN 0001-8996, page 45.
  16. ^ Cooper, Elise (July 9, 2010). "9/11 Families: No Mosque on Our Sacred Ground". NewsReal Blog.
  17. ^ a b c Vulliamy, Ed (December 1, 2001). "The real story of flight 93'Let's roll...'" Archived November 19, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. The Guardian.
  18. ^ a b c "Brief Biographies: Passengers and Crew of Flight 93" Archived September 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Flight 93 National Memorial. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  19. ^ Atkins, Stephen E. (2008). The 9/11 Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Praeger Security International. p. 284. ISBN 978-0-275-99432-7.
  20. ^ a b c d Evensen, Bruce J. (2000). "Beamer, Todd Morgan" Archived May 15, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. American National Biography. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  21. ^ a b McKinnon, Jim (September 16, 2001). "The phone line from Flight 93 remained open when a GTE operator heard Todd Beamer say, "Are you guys ready? Okay. Let's roll..."". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on January 18, 2012. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  22. ^ a b "The heroes of Flight 93 Archived September 11, 2018, at the Wayback Machine. The Week. September 9, 2011. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
  23. ^ Veale, Scott (September 16, 2001). "Word for Word/Last Words; Voices From Above: 'I Love You, Mommy, Goodbye'" Archived September 12, 2018, at the Wayback Machine. The New York Times. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
  24. ^ a b O'Brien Miles (September 19, 2001). "Calls indicate Flight 93 passengers went down fighting" Archived September 11, 2018, at the Wayback Machine. CNN. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
  25. ^ Mason, Margie (October 22, 2001). "Gay Hero Emerges From Hijacking" Archived July 15, 2018, at the Wayback Machine. The Washington Post. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
  26. ^ Hoagland, Alice ["9/11: One Day in America S1:E3 'Collapse'"] The National Geographic. Published August 30, 2021
  27. ^ "Mom Urged Son to Fight Flight 93 Hijackers" Archived September 11, 2018, at the Wayback Machine. ABC News. March 30, 2018, Retrieved September 11, 2018.
  28. ^ a b Alderson, Andrew; Bisset, Susan (October 21, 2001). "The extraordinary last calls of Flight UA93" Archived November 7, 2018, at the Wayback Machine. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
  29. ^ Barrett, Jon. "Person of the year: This Is Mark Bingham". The Advocate. January 22, 2002, Nos. 854-855, ISSN 0001-8996, pages 43–47.
  30. ^ a b Dahir, Mubarak (October 23, 2001). "Our Heroes: Whether It Was By Saving Lives or Simply Living Life to Its Fullest, Gay Men and Lesbians Were Among the Thousands of Americans who, on September 11, Showed Humanity's True Spirit" Archived November 1, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. The Advocate. ISSN 0001-8996, pages 42–45.
  31. ^ Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Location 3928). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  32. ^ Broverman, Neal (August 5, 2011). "LGBT Heroes to Remember" Archived May 17, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. The Advocate.
  33. ^ Atkins, Stephen E. (June 2, 2011). The 9/11 Encyclopedia: Second Edition. ABC-CLIO, p. 72. Google Books.
  34. ^ "Flight 93 passengers selected for Ashe Award" Archived January 7, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Associated Press/ESPN. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  35. ^ "Recreation and Park Commission Minutes" Archived August 7, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. City and County of San Francisco, Recreation and Parks Department. August 15, 2002
  36. ^ "Lucky" Archived October 10, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  37. ^ "Mark Bingham Award for Excellence in Achievement by Young Alumni | Berkeley Awards". Retrieved March 27, 2023.
  38. ^ Wilcox, Barbara (September 10, 2006). "A Mark Bingham history tour" Archived September 15, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. The Advocate.
  39. ^ "Mark Bingham Award for Excellence in Achievement by a Young Alumnus/a 2013" Archived September 20, 2015, at the Wayback Machine. California Alumni Association. University of California, Berkeley.
  40. ^ "Mark Bingham Award Recipients" Archived May 17, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. California Alumni Association. University of California, Berkeley.
  41. ^ "BEar News: Innovation for the public good". Retrieved March 27, 2023.
  42. ^ Mark Bingham Archived July 27, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Memorial Guide: National 9/11 Memorial. Retrieved October 28, 2011.
  43. ^ "New Image of Flight 93 National Memorial Unveiled" Archived November 4, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Flight 93 National Memorial. May 4, 2009
  44. ^ "About the Film". 2012. Archived from the original on June 20, 2012. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  45. ^ Gebhart, Betsy (June 18, 2011). "'With You' Documentary On Flight 93 Hero, Family Premieres" Archived May 17, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. CBS DC.

Further reading[edit]

  • Barrett, Jon Hero of Flight 93: Mark Bingham, Advocate Books, 2002 ISBN 1-55583-780-8
  • "UNITED FLIGHT 93: On Doomed Flight, Passengers Vowed to Perish Fighting" The New York Times. September 13, 2001

External links[edit]