United Hero:  Donald and Jean Peterson

Donald and Jean Peterson

The Petersons Donald A. Peterson
66 years old

Jean Hoadley Peterson
55 years old
Spring Lake, NJ

The following is excerpted from The Chicago Tribune.

They weren't supposed to be on United Flight 93, but they got to the Newark airport early, and their original flight was late and crowded.

So Donald and Jean Peterson, planning to fly to San Francisco for an annual family trip to Yosemite National Park, grabbed seats 14A and 14C on Flight 93. They died when their plane crashed into the rolling hills of Pennsylvania.

"He was coming to see me in a few weeks, which is heartbreaking," said David Peterson, Donald Peterson's eldest son, who lives in Hawaii and hadn't seen his father in a year.

More than 1,000 people came to a service for the couple.

Donald Peterson, 66, former head of Continental Electric in New Jersey and a former member of the New Jersey Board of Education, had started working as a Christian missionary about 10 years ago with his wife. Jean Peterson, 55, had just held her first grandchild, one of her three daughters said.

David Peterson and family members of other Flight 93 victims traveled to the crash site. He stared at the scorched trees for what he thought was five minutes.

He was told he stood there for an hour.

For the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's biography of Donald and Jean Peterson, click here.