Neerja-In Memoriam: Remembering Neerja Bhanot

Picture courtesy:

[The flight attendant who died heroically saving passengers from terrorists of
hijacked Pan Am Flight 73 on Sept. 5, 1986]

Compiled by : Gp Capt Kuma Kirinde

Neerja Bhanot was senior flight purser on the Empress of the Seas, a Pan Am 747
hijacked at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi by four armed men from the Abu
Nidal organization en route to Frankfurt and New York. During a 17-hour ordeal,
she helped the three-member cockpit crew escape in order to ground the plane so
it could not be flown. Bhanot hid passports of passengers so the hijackers could not
determine passenger nationalities. She also managed to open the emergency door
assisting a number of passengers to escape from the plane. As the hijackers opened
fire on passengers and crew, Neerja Bhanot lost her life shielding three children
from bullets.

In 1987, she became the youngest and first woman recipient of the Ashoka
Chakra award, India’s highest civilian decoration for bravery.
In 2004, the Indian Postal Service issued a stamp in her honor.

In 2006 she was awarded the 2006 Special Courage Award by the US Department
of Justice. In 2016 a film entitled “Neerja” was released, portraying her herioc life.
Today the Neerja Bhanot Pan Am Trust continues to do great work in memory of
this amazing woman.


Extraordinary Courage in the Face of Certain Death

Source: (posted by Kathy Pennell)
Neerja Bhanot was a flight attendant on (Boeing 747) Pan Am Flight 73 in 1986,
which was scheduled to fly from Mumbai to the United States. Before takeoff 4
hijackers boarded the plane at Karachi airport in Pakistan and held hostage 380
passengers and 13 crew members at gun point in a 17-hour standoff. When the
hijackers demanded the passports of the Americans on board, Neerja hid the
passports under seat cushions, flushed them down the toilet and threw them down
the trash shoot. When the situation escalated as the hijackers began shooting and
detonating explosives, Neerja deployed the emergency escape doors and began
frantically guiding passengers out of the plane. She was the last to remain when a
hijacker grabbed her by her ponytail and shot her point blank while she was
shielding 3 American children from gun fire. She died at 22 the day before her