Jill Biden Recalls Fear for Her Flight Attendant Sister on 9/11

Bonny Jacobs was safe that day
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 11, 2022 7:21 AM CDT
Jill Biden Recalls Fear for Her Flight Attendant Sister on 9/11
A file photo of Jill and Joe Biden during the 2020 anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

When Jill Biden realized that terrorists had attacked America on Sept. 11, 2001, her husband, Joe, wasn't the only loved one whose safety she worried about. Biden recalled being “scared to death” that her sister Bonny Jacobs, a United Airlines flight attendant, was on one of the four hijacked airplanes that were flown into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field, killing nearly 3,000 people. After learning that her sister was safe at her Pennsylvania home, “I went straight to Bonny's house,” Biden told the AP on Saturday as she and her sister remembered that day.

“I called Bonny to see where she was because I was scared to death. ... I didn’t know where she was, whether she was flying, not flying, where she was,” Jill Biden recalled. “And then I found out she was home.” The future first lady had gone to teach her class at Delaware Technical Community College, then went straight to her sister's house after school was dismissed. Joe Biden, then a US senator, was on an Amtrak train barreling toward Washington when his wife got through to him. They were on the phone when she cried out, “Oh, my God, oh, my God, oh, my God” after an airplane hit the second World Trade Center tower.

Jacobs said she had gotten home around 2am on Sept. 11 after a late flight. She slept a little, got up to help get her kids, then 11 and 7, off to school, turned off her phone, and went back to bed. She remembered starting to "shake" when she woke and heard the news. “And then the first person that came to the house was Jill,” she said. “I hadn’t called her to come, but she just showed up, and she was there for me, as usual.” Jacobs said she usually flies on the Sept. 11 anniversary to pay tribute to her fallen colleagues and as a way of distracting herself “because it's so upsetting.”

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This year, however, she will be with the first lady in Shanksville, Pennsylvania—Jill Biden will give remarks at the memorial there—to offer the same kind of support her big sister has given her. “It's such a special moment to be together with her," Jacobs said. “She was there for me at the time that it happened and she actually is always there for me. She is my rock. Everybody should have a rock in their life, and she is mine.”

(More 9/11 anniversary stories.)

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