Mother Of Local 911 United Flight 93 Hero
As our community remembers 911, it will also not forget the two heroes from Los Gatos aboard United Flight 93 on that frightful day, who attempted to take back cockpit control from terrorists – Todd Beamer and Mark Bingham. Now, our community will also reflect upon Alice Hoagland, Mother to Mark Bingham, who, in a twist of fate, while carrying on her son’s legacy, also created one of her own.
“I’m so glad you’re here to celebrate the lives of the sons and daughters of Los Gatos who fought in all of America’s wars along with two stand up guys from Los Gatos – Todd Beamer and Mark Bingham who, thirteen years out of high school found themselves together again, not on the basketball court or rugby pitch this time, but in a pitching hijacked Boeing 757 scooting low over the hilly ground in western Pennsylvania aboard United Airlines Flight 93.” So were the opening remarks of Veterans Foundation Committee Member Alice Hoagland, single Mother of local 911 hero Mark Bingham, at The Flame of Liberty Memorial Dedication held at the Los Gatos Civic Center on June 15, 2019.
Alice Hoagland, a former flight attendant for nearly 20 years, never forgot the day she received a mid-flight call from Mark at approximately 6 AM PT on a Tuesday, September morning in 2001. Alice’s Son, Mark, telephoned Alice to report United Flight 93’s hijacking and tell her he loved her. The two ended the call after being disconnected. Alice learned the news of the terrorist attacks bringing devastation to the Twin Towers and Pentagon. She acted quickly and called Mark back, leaving a voicemail message, “Mark, this is your Mom…. The news is that terrorists have hijacked your plane. They’re planning to probably use the plane as a target to hit some site on the ground. Do everything to try to overpower these guys if you can. Ok. I love you, Sweetie. Try to call me back if you can.” In the aftermath of 911, some have hypothesized that Alice’s message to her son may have been the first news informing passengers on board about the Twin Towers and Pentagon catastrophes that took place on the ground.
Mother and Son were a unique duo bound by rugby and respect for all individuals regardless of gender preference. The 6’5″ Mark Bingham attended Los Gatos High, where he had his first introduction to rugby, followed by playing at the University of California at Berkeley and ultimately as an adult. Throughout it all, Mother and Son were a close team. They traveled together, ate together, had fun together, attended games together. Her son, Mark, was also gay. In the aftermath of 911, a loving Alice Hoagland became a beloved figure of the LGBTQ+ movement and, over the two decades to follow, advanced the cause ignited by her son to let individuals of all gender preferences feel inclusive around a shared love for the sport.
Following 911, the San Francisco Fog Rugby Football Club [the FOG] announced they wanted to do something special for Mark and launched the first gay rugby event. It was branded the Bingham Cup, a championship that caught the interest of Nike, Guinness, Red Bull, and other formidable sponsors. Today, the league has grown to 83 clubs, 148 teams, and more than 4900 athletes – gay and straight – from 20 countries. The Bingham Cup tournament has taken place in points worldwide in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. Alice Hoagland, often referred to by rugby players as the “Goddess” of Bingham Cup rugby, became a respected advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, a champion for gay rugby, and the Bingham Cup is now billed as the largest amateur rugby event. On 911, she lost one Son. In the years to follow, she inherited 4900 rugby athletes.
Post 911, Alice took her crusade for flight safety and took lobbied in Washington D.C., where she participated in hearings on terrorism. Locally, Alice joined the Veterans Memorial & Support Foundation, which become a fortunate channel for her enthusiasm in supporting those who volunteered to defend America by joining the United States Military and the fight against terrorism.
On December 22, 2020, Alice Hoagland passed away. Our community and country lost a welcoming, passionate, inspiring, and exceptional individual. On 9/11, we remember the lives of Mark Bingham, Todd Beamer, and Alice Hoagland – ordinary people, extraordinary acts of courage.
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