US Airways

Rising from the ashes

Rising from the ashes

When Thomas Heidenberger's wife died Sept. 11, 2001, shock and grief weren't all the Chevy Chase man had to deal with.

Heidenberger, then a 55-year-old airline pilot, had a daughter at Loyola College in Baltimore. He had a son who would be heading to college in a few years.

And as recovery workers labored at the heavily damaged Pentagon — his wife, Michele, had been the lead flight attendant on board American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed there — he started recalculating the family finances. Without Michele's earnings, Heidenberger believed he'd have to sell their house or take out a second mortgage to finance the children's educations.