Even as identities of thousands lay buried in rubble, the names of the dead and a few small details of lost lives began to trickle out Wednesday.
Consultant Brian Sweeney, 38, was on his way from Boston to Los Angeles for business. When Sweeney realized the plane was hijacked, he made two phone calls: one to his parents, the other to his wife, Julie. She wasn't home, so he left his last words on the answering machine.
"He was calm and said, `I'm on the plane, it's been hijacked and it doesn't look good. But I want you to know how much I love you and my family,'" said Julie, a physical education and health teacher, from their home in Barnstable, Mass. The two were married in 1999. "He said to live a long life and be happy. And he said he'd see me again soon. Then he said he had to go."
At 9:03 a.m., the plane crashed.
"He enjoyed life more than anyone I've ever known," she said of her husband, an avid boater who loved spending time on the ocean with his wife. "He was one of the most incredible people I knew. Or ever will know."
John Woodall didn't worry much about his son after an airliner slammed into One World Trade Center Tuesday morning. Brent Woodall, a 31-year-old stock trader who worked on the 89th floor of Two World Trade Center, had called his father on the West Coast in the minutes after the first Boeing 767 plowed into the complex.
"He said, `If you see that on TV, that's not the building I'm in,'" John Woodall said Wednesday from his home in La Jolla, Calif. "He said they weren't leaving."
Minutes later, after John Woodall had stepped into the shower, his son called back and left a chilling message on an answering machine.
"This time, he said his building had been hit, and they were getting the hell out of there," Woodall said. "Then he left his wife's cell phone number in New York and asked me to let her know. That was it."
Brent Woodall and a fellow trader later reached their wives on cell phones. The plane had hit the building below their offices, and the men said they were stuck above where the plane struck as they tried to open a stairwell door.
It was the last time anyone would hear from Brent Woodall, leaving his parents to watch television in horror about 40 minutes later as the building from which their son was trying to escape collapsed in a thundering cloud of dust and debris.
Alfred G. Marchand
Alfred G. Marchand had been a flight attendant less than a year when he worked United Airlines Flight 175 on Tuesday. At 44, he had just retired from his first career--as a police officer.
After working his way up the ranks to lieutenant over 21 years with his hometown police department in New Mexico, Marchand was making vacation reservations when he happened upon a job posting for flight attendants late last year, his wife's best friend said.
On a whim, he signed up, said Connie Lane. "He just decided to do something really different. It really surprised us."
As it turned out, he loved it.