Unsung 9/11 Heroes: Arborists Recall the ‘Hell’ of Shanksville Scene of Downed Flight 93

Unsung 9/11 Heroes: Arborists Recall the ‘Hell’ of Shanksville Scene of Downed Flight 93

Much of the focus of the radical Islamists’ terror attacks on September 11, 2001, was the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. But the first responders in a field in rural Pennsylvania faced their own kind of hell as they scoured the scene where 33 passengers and crew died after United Airlines Flight 93 went down.

That’s where two arborists — Mark Trautman and Ben Haupt — ended up after the attack to search through a smoldering forest for evidence in the horrific scene.

“I saw all the wickedness of man,” said Haupt, whose Christian conversion led him to become a pastor who even today uses his Pennsylvania experience to share with parishioners the darkness of sin.

“I look at this place, and I said, ‘I know this isn’t hell,'” Haupt recalled. “But if this isn’t, then how bad is hell?”

Twenty years ago Trautman and Haupt worked as arborists at the University of Pennsylvania tending the historic trees on that campus.

Penny Starr