Thomas Heidenberger is a man who has dedicated much of his life to service. He is a retired airline pilot who flew for more than 30 years with Piedmont Airlines and it’s survivor USAirways, retiring in 2006. Since his retirement, he has been involved with several philanthropic endeavors. In November 2001, he participated in the Flag Run as the US flag traveled from Boston to Los Angeles by running in both Washington, D.C. and at its conclusion at LAX. Tom, as anyone who knows him is well aware, is an avid cyclist who in 2006 organized and led the ‘Airline Ride across America’ which raised funds for the construction of all three of the September 11 Memorials.
As part of Tom’s last flight as Captain for USAirways, he flew to Los Angeles the destination of the flights hijacked that day and commenced the return trip via bicycle with four other airline pilots. The ride was a tribute to the “first of the first responders” or to the “first combatants in the war on terror” : the crewmembers aboard those ill fated flights as well as a fundraiser for the three 9/11 memorials. The ride started in Los Angeles; in 33 days with each day dedicated to one of the crewmembers killed on 9/11 and some 4000 plus miles later, the ride finished at the Pentagon Memorial. In between Tom and his fellow riders biked across the country and made stops at the future sites of the World Trade Center Memorial in Manhattan and the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Tom was also one of the original members of the Pentagon Memorial Fund’s Board of Directors. He has been instrumental in the planning, supporting, fundraising and completion of what is the first September 11 Memorial to be constructed.
The Pentagon Memorial’s construction has always been a personal matter to him. On September 11, 2001 Tom’s wife of nearly 30 years and the mother of their two children, Thomas II and Alison; Michele Heidenberger, was the lead flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 77 that was commandeered and subsequently crashed into the Pentagon. It has and continues to be his wish that for future generations the Pentagon Memorial will be a place for remembrance of the attack on our nation as well as the ultimate sacrifice made by 3000 innocent Americans that fateful day.