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Fri, 08.27.1965

LeRoy W. Homer, Pilot, and 9/11 Hero born

LeRoy W. Homer Jr.

*LeRoy Homer, Jr. was born on this date in 1965. He was a Black military and commercial pilot and instructor.

LeRoy Wilton Homer Jr. grew up on Long Island in New York; whereas a child, he dreamed of flying, assembled model airplanes, collected aviation memorabilia, and read books on aviation. He was 15 when he started flight instruction in a Cessna 152. Working part-time jobs after school to pay for flying lessons, he completed his first solo trip at the age of 16 and obtained his private pilot's certificate in 1983.  Homer graduated and attended Cyril and Methodius School in 1979 and St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in 1983.

After graduation, he entered the United States Air Force Academy as a member of the class of 1987. As an upperclassman, he was a member of Cadet Squadron 31. He graduated in 1987 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. After completing his USAF pilot training in 1988, he was assigned to McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, flying a Lockheed C-141 Starlifter.

He served in the Gulf War and later supported operations in Somalia.  He received many commendations, awards, and medals during his military career. 1993 he was named the Twenty-First Air Force "Aircrew Instructor of the Year." Captain Homer was honorably discharged from active duty in 1995 and accepted a Reserve Commission to continue his career as an Air Force officer. Homer continued in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, initially as a C-141 instructor pilot with the 356th Airlift Squadron at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, then as an Academy Liaison Officer, recruiting potential candidates for both the Air Force Academy and the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. During his time in the Air Force Reserve, he achieved the rank of major.

He joined United Airlines in May 1995. He married in 1998 and had his first child, Laurel, born in late November 2000; residing in Marlton, New Jersey. On September 11, 2001, Homer flew with Captain Jason M. Dahl on United Airlines Flight 93 from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco. Four al-Qaeda terrorists, as part of the September 11 attacks, hijacked the plane. After learning of the earlier crashes at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, some crew and passengers tried to foil the hijacking and reclaim the aircraft. During this struggle, it crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

For his actions on board Flight 93, Homer received many awards and citations posthumously, including honorary membership in the historic Tuskegee Airmen; the Congress of Racial Equality's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award; the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Drum Major for Justice Award; and the Westchester County Trailblazer Award. ; At the National 9/11 Memorial, Homer, Jr. is memorialized at the South Pool, on Panel S-67, along with other passengers on Flight 93.

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