Nine Stories Of 9/11 Victims That Paint A Heartbreaking Picture Of America’s Darkest Day

Published June 28, 2022
Updated March 12, 2024

Brian Sweeney: The 9/11 Victim Who Left His Wife A Heartbreaking Final Voicemail

9/11 Victim Brian Sweeney

Julia Sweeney Roth/FacebookBrian Sweeney was a former Navy pilot who was working as a defense contractor when he died on 9/11.

When Brian Sweeney, a passenger on United Airlines Flight 175, realized that he and his fellow passengers were probably going to die, he called his wife, Julie. As his plane barreled toward the South Tower of the World Trade Center, he left her a tragic final voicemail using an Airfone.

“Jules, this is Brian,” Brian Sweeney’s voicemail message began. “Listen, I’m on an airplane that’s been hijacked.”

Brian Sweeney
History Uncovered Podcast
Episode 47: Brian Sweeney’s Tragic Voicemail To His Wife On 9/11
Just before Brian Sweeney's plane slammed into the World Trade Center on 9/11, he left a heartbreaking final voicemail for his wife.

By that point, Brian and Julie had been together for about three years. They’d first met in a Philadelphia bar, where the 6’3″ Brian, who was a former U.S. Navy pilot, immediately caught Julie’s eye. The two quickly fell in love, married, and moved in together in Massachusetts.

While Julie worked as a teacher, Brian found work as a defense contractor. Every month, he flew to Los Angeles for work, which was what he was doing on September 11th, when he boarded United Airlines Flight 175 in Boston.

Brian And Julie Sweeney

9/11 Memorial & MuseumBrian and Julie Sweeney fell in love quickly and had just started their life together when Brian died on 9/11.

On that day, Julie was at work teaching when al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked her husband’s plane. In the era before widespread cell phone use, Brian simply called her number at home and left a message.

“If things don’t go well, and it’s not looking good, I just want you to know I absolutely love you,” Brian told her. “I want you to do good, go have good times. Same to my parents and everybody, and I just totally love you, and I’ll see you when you get there. Bye, babe. I hope I call you.”

Julie, who got Brian’s message once she got home, decided to release his final voicemail in 2002. She said that she hopes she can bring some sense of peace and solace to the families of other 9/11 victims.

“I’m thankful for it. So thankful for that message,” she later said. “Because, at least I know, without a shadow of a doubt, what he was thinking. The calmness in his voice soothed me… And it’s very powerful. He made very powerful statements with that message.”

author
Kaleena Fraga
author
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Kaleena Fraga has also had her work featured in The Washington Post and Gastro Obscura, and she published a book on the Seattle food scene for the Eat Like A Local series. She graduated from Oberlin College, where she earned a dual degree in American History and French.
editor
John Kuroski
editor
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Fraga, Kaleena. "Nine Stories Of 9/11 Victims That Paint A Heartbreaking Picture Of America’s Darkest Day." AllThatsInteresting.com, June 28, 2022, https://allthatsinteresting.com/9-11-victims. Accessed June 22, 2024.