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 may have been 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, and all of the passengers' deaths.
Both for his presence on United 93, as well as his athletic physique and masculine lifestyle, Bingham has been widely honored posthumously for having "smashed the gay stereotype mold and really opened the door to many others that came after him."
Mark Bingham was born in 1970, the only child of single mother Alice Hoagland. He grew up in Miami, Florida and Southern California before moving to the San Jose area in 1983. Bingham was an aspiring filmmaker growing up, and began using a video camera as a teenager as a personal diary through which he expressed himself and documented his life and the lives of those of his family and friends. He accumulated hundreds of hours of video documenting the final decade and a half of his life. 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 twenty-one, Bingham came out as gay to his family and friends.
Rugby and business career
A large athlete at 6 ft 4 in (190 cm) and 225 pounds (102 kg), Bingham also played for the gay-inclusive rugby union team San Francisco Fog RFC. Bingham played No. 8 in their first two friendly matches. He played in their first tournament, and taught his teammates his favorite rugby songs.
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, and discussed plans with his friend Scott Glaessgen about forming a New York City rugby team, Gotham Knights.
On September 11, 2001
On the morning of September 11, Bingham overslept and nearly missed the flight, on his way to San Francisco to be an usher in his fraternity brother Joseph Salama's wedding. He arrived at the Terminal A at 7:40am, ran to Gate 17, and was the last passenger to board, taking seat 4D, next to passenger Tom Burnett.
United Flight 93 was scheduled to depart at 8:00am, but the Boeing 757 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. 15 minutes later, at 9:03 am, as United Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower, United 93 was climbing to cruising altitude, heading west over New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. At 9:25 am, Flight 93 was above eastern Ohio, and its pilot radioed Cleveland controllers to inquire about an alert that had been flashed on his cockpit computer screen to "beware of cockpit intrusion." Three minutes later, Cleveland controllers could hear screams over the cockpit's open microphone. Moments later, the hijackers, led by the Lebanese Ziad Samir Jarrah, took over the plane's controls, disengaged the autopilot, and told passengers, "Keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb board". Bingham and the other passengers were herded into the back of the plane. The curtain between first class and second class had been drawn, at which point the pilot and co-pilot were seen lying dead on the floor just outside the curtain, their throats having been cut. Within six minutes, the plane changed course and was heading 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. Bingham phoned his mother, reporting that his plane had been hijacked and relaying his love for her.
After the hijackers veered the plane sharply south, the passengers decided to act. Bingham, along with Todd Beamer, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick formed a plan to take the plane back from the hijackers. 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.
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, "Allah akbar!" ("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 orders, "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 an hour, killing everyone on board. The plane was twenty 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 had given the order to shoot the plane down had it continued its path to Washington.
Bingham was survived by his parents, stepmother and his former partner of six years, Paul Holm, who said Bingham had risked his life to protect the lives of others on occasions prior to 9/11, having twice successfully protected Holm from attempted muggings, one at gunpoint. 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.
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.
The Eureka Valley Recreation Center's Gymnasium in San Francisco was renamed the Mark Bingham Gymnasium in August 2002.
Beginning in 2005, the Mark Bingham Award for Excellence in Achievement has been awarded by the California Alumni Association of the University of California, Berkeley to a young alumnus or alumna at its annual Charter Gala.
The 2012 feature-length documentary With You focuses on Bingham and the bond he had with his mother, Alice Hoagland, a former United Airlines flight attendant who, following his death, became a nationally known authority on airline safety and a champion of LGBT rights. Directed by Scott Gracheff, the film relies on the vast amount of video footage Bingham himself shot beginning in his teens until weeks before his death. The film's title is a popular rugby term, and one of Bingham's favorite expressions.
In the media
- ICONS: The Lesbian and Gay History of the World, Vol. 2 (2004), starring Jade Esteban Estrada
- United 93 (2006), portrayed by Cheyenne Jackson
- Flight 93 (2006), portrayed by Ty Olsson
- The Flight That Fought Back (2005), portrayed by Jason LeGrande
- "Unexpected legacy left by hero of Flight 93". Yahoo! News. September 2, 2011.
- Thomas, Kevin (June 15, 2011). "Frameline 2011: A Closer Look at the Coming Weekend". San Francisco Examiner.
- Woolf, Tiffany. "Sneak Preview Screening: Outfest: The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival". July 2011.
- Siek, Julia Prodis (September 11, 2011). "Messages for Flight 93 passenger capture fear, resolve on Sept. 11".San Jose Mercury News
- Barrett, Jon (January 22, 2002). "Person of the year: This Is Mark Bingham". The Advocate. Nos. 854-855, ISSN 0001-8996, pp. 41, 42.
- Zavos, Spiro (December 23, 2009). "Mark Bingham is rugby union's iconic gay player". The Roar.
- "Mark Bingham". Gotham Knights Rugby Football Club. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
- Barret, Jon (January 22, 2002). "Person of the year: This Is Mark Bingham".The Advocate. Nos. 854-855, ISSN 0001-8996, page 45.
- Cooper, Elise (July 9, 2010). "9/11 Families: No Mosque on Our Sacred Ground". NewsReal Blog.
- Vulliamy, Ed (December 1, 2001). "The real story of flight 93'Let's roll...'". The Guardian.
- "Brief Biographies: Passengers and Crew of Flight 93". Flight 93 National Memorial. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
- Evensen, Bruce J. (2000). "Beamer, Todd Morgan". American National Biography. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
- McKinnon, Jim (September 16, 2001). "The phone line from Flight 93 was still open when a GTE operator heard Todd Beamer say: 'Are you guys ready? Okay. Let's roll...'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Barrett, Jon. "Person of the year: This Is Mark Bingham". The Advocate. January 22, 2002, Nos. 854-855, ISSN 0001-8996, page 43-47.
- 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". The Advocate. ISSN 0001-8996, page 42-45.
- Broverman, Neal (August 5, 2011). "LGBT Heroes to Remember". The Advocate.
- Atkins, Stephen E. (June 2, 2011). The 9/11 Encyclopedia: Second Edition. ABC-CLIO, p. 72. Google Books.
- "Flight 93 passengers selected for Ashe Award". Associated Press/ESPN. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- "Recreation and Park Commission Minutes". City and County of San Francisco, Recreation and Parks Department. August 15, 2002
- "Lucky". melissaetheridge.com. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
- Wilcox, Barbara (September 10, 2006). "A Mark Bingham history tour". The Advocate.
- "Mark Bingham Award for Excellence in Achievement by a Young Alumnus/a 2013". California Alumni Association. University of California, Berkeley.
- "Mark Bingham Award Recipients". California Alumni Association. University of California, Berkeley.
- Mark Bingham. Memorial Guide: National 9/11 Memorial. Retrieved October 28, 2011.
- "New Image of Flight 93 National Memorial Unveiled". Flight 93 National Memorial. May 4, 2009
- "About the Film". With You. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- Gebhart, Betsy (June 18, 2011). "'With You' Documentary On Flight 93 Hero, Family Premieres". CBS DC.
- 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
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mark Bingham.|
- Mark Bingham: a Tribute to a Wonderful Man, a Great Friend, a Loving Brother, and an American Hero.
- SFFOG.ORG Mark's rugby team, the S.F. Fog (Mark's Memorial page).
- Advocate Magazine article on Bingham.
- Daily Cal Article referencing Mark attacking Stanford tree.
- Mark Bingham Scholarship Fund.
- Official Website of The Bingham Cup.
- Team Bingham - Mark Bingham Scholarship fundraising Organization.
- Mark Bingham at the Internet Movie Database
- After September 11: Farewell to a Hero (California Monthly tribute).
- With You: The Mark Bingham Story
- Mark Bingham at Find a Grave