Colonel Sasseville's Lucky Penney
Picture yourself behind the controls of your own airplane. If you are afraid of flying, picture yourself not afraid of flying, and then picture yourself in your own airplane. Okay - everybody with me? Now see yourself lift up into an azure blue, autumn sky; not a cloud in sight. You rise higher and higher in the atmosphere.
Now, forget about it being your own plane. It's a government owned F-16 fighter jet. Your mission is to down an incoming enemy plane before it strikes. You're not prepared for such a hurried takeoff, but yet there is no time to gear up and get ready. Every second counts.
Finally picture yourself in the cockpit of this F-16 with no weapons. There are no missiles on board, no ammunition of any kind. What do you do?
Lieutenant Lucky Penney
The scenario you just imagined became reality for then Colonel Marc Sasseville and then Lieutenant Heather "Lucky" Penney. Penney said of that day, "We wouldn't be shooting it down. We'd be ramming the aircraft. I would essentially be a kamikaze pilot." The day she was speaking of - September 11, 2001.
The plane to be destroyed was United Airline's Flight 93. Three other terrorist driven planes had already been let loose on their targets. Two destroyed the World Trade Towers. The other attacked the Pentagon. Flight 93's expected target was the Capitol in Washington D. C. It had to be stopped at all cost. She would be teaming up with then Lieutenant Colonel Marc Sasseville.
The Days of Innocence
In the days prior to 9/11 this kind of warfare was unthinkable. No one was prepared for such an attack, including those at Andrews Air Force Base.The attack plan was for Sasseveille and Penney to fly along side of each other looking for United Flight-93, and bring it down.. Because of the days of innocence before September 11, 2001, the need for such a mission was not even a consideration. The fighter jets at Andrews Air Force Base sat in place loaded with dummy ammunition for practice purposes.. The urgency of the hour demanded extraordinary results from extraordinary individuals. The burden fell on Sasseville and his "Lucky" Penney, as she became known.
There was no time to prepare the planes. This would be in all probability a kamikaze mission. On the way to the planes Sasseville gave the orders. He would head his jet into the cockpit of Flight-93. "Lucky" would go for the tail..There was no hesitation. Orders were orders and the planes were flying within minutes.
The Story in Major Penney''s Own Words
The Story in General Sasseville's Own Words
The morning's crystal blue sky no doubt turned black for Sasseville and Penney. The events were unfolding so quickly neither had time to fully grasp the probable outcome, but both were willing to serve their country by offering the ultimate sacrifice - death so that others could live in freedom.
The planes were mounted without weapons and headed for the skies in search of Flight 93. We know the rest of the story. Flight 93 was taken down by the passengers on board and driven into the ground on a small farm in Pennsylvania. Sasseville's and Penney's lives were spared that day.
Sasseville and Penney very likely sighed a sigh of relief as their mission was aborted. They would live to see another day, but at the cost of 43 lives - the passengers on board Flight 93.
How many countless lives were saved by the destruction if Flight 93? The Capitol was spared. Many in and around Washington D.C. were spared. Still a price had to be paid.
Another Life Saved
First Officer Steve Scheibner was assigned to pilot American Flight 11 on September 10, 2001. American Flight 11 was the first plane to "bomb" the world Trade Center. He was later bumped and replaced by Tom McGuiness. His story is told on the video, In My Seat. Please take a few moments and watch it.
Who Is In Your Seat?
Heather Penney, Marc Sasseville, and Steve Scheibner were all spared on that dreadful day in American history. As of this writing, they are all alive and continue to serve. But what about you?
You have been assigned an eternal destiny. It is not fashionable, nor politically correct to talk about sin and Hell, but the truth is both exist. We emphasize the love of God, and rightly so, but we also must consider His holiness - holiness that demands punishment for sin; holiness that demands pureness of life. Because of God's holiness, God cannot allow sin in His presence. He is perfect and pure and completely free of sin, but we as humans are not.
The fact you must face is that you have offended a holy God. God, because of His holiness and righteousness cannot allow you in His presence. As much as Heaven is real, so is the reality of Hell. According to Scripture, hell exists in the center of the earth. Hell is not here on earth as some suppose.
However, the love of God does play a part. God loves you so much that He came and took your seat. Just as Penney, Sasseville, and Schreibner were willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice, so was Jesus. A human might be able to act as a substitute for physical life, but only the Son of God, God in the flesh can substitute for eternal life.
It was the blood of Jesus shed on Mount Calvary that was placed to your account, but you must claim it. It is free for the taking, but you must take it. Romans 6:23 tells us, "For the wages of sin is death. . . " Death as it is referred to here represents both physical death and spiritual death. We will all die someday, but our spirit will never die. It is eternal and will exist in one of two places - either Heaven or Hell. Death simply means separation. Physical death occurs when the soul separates from the body. Spiritual death occurs when the soul is separated from God.
No amount of "do gooding" can or will erase the evil that lies in our hearts. If it were not for the rest of the verse, we would all be doomed, but Scripture continues, . ". . . but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Salvation is a gift. There is nothing you can do to earn it. There is nothing you can do to pay for it. Ephesians 2:8 and 9 make it clear - "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works. . ." The price for sin has already been paid in full. Still God allows us to make a choice. Will we accept His payment or reject the only hope we have?
Acts 4:12 gives us this information - "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved," John 14:6 clarifies further, "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
The Way Is Narrow
You may say I am narrow-minded. The way is narrow. it is not about sincerely following a religious belief. It is not about trying to do your best. It is not about pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. You can only avoid the seat of condemnation by allowing Jesus to take your place; to sit in your seat. It is all about a relationship, not religion. Will you trust Him and give yourself to Him today. Although I do not believe luck exists, In a sense Jesus is your lucky penny. Commit yourself to Him today. Tomorrow may be too late.