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Michael T. Weinberg Devoted to His Job and His Sister - September 17, 2001

Firefighter Michael Weinberg, 34, of Maspeth was off duty, eagerly anticipating a 9:08 a.m. tee time at Forest Park Golf Course Tuesday, a perfect sunlit day for golf. As he waited at the clubhouse for his starting time, Weinberg heard reports that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Weinberg had two reasons for throwing his clubs into the back of his sport utility vehicle and rushing into lower Manhattan. First was his loyalty to the New York City Fire Department. Second was his devotion to his sister, Patricia Gambino, who worked on the 72nd floor of Two World Trade Center. "They saw him running to the car, flying out of there, said Gambino, a Morgan Stanley employee. Weinberg apparently stopped at his station house -- Engine 1, Ladder 24, at 142 W. 31st St. -- and drove to the complex with the Rev. Mychal Judge, the fire department chaplain, and Capt. Daniel Brethel of Farmingville, who died alongside Weinberg as they sought cover under a truck as the towers collapsed. "He flew. We thought there was no possible way he would be in trouble. For the life of me, I don't know how he got there so quickly, Gambino said. The family believes that Judge administered last rites to Weinberg before they both perished. Weinberg grew up in Maspeth and attended St. John's University on a baseball scholarship. A centerfielder, he was named Big East Most Valuable Player in 1988, according to his father, Morton Weinberg. Weinberg then joined the Detroit Tigers organization, playing Triple A baseball in both Niagara Falls and Fayetteville, N.C. An avid all- round athlete, Weinberg also worked as a lifeguard and trainer. Handsome and well-built, Weinberg modeled and was featured in the fire department's calendar. "Everywhere he went, people would say he was striking, but he was more beautiful inside, said Gambino, adding, "He was just an incredible human being and that's why he is with God now. Gambino managed to escaped the inferno by taking an elevator from her office down to the 44th floor, a main elevator lobby. Then, she worked her way down the stairs and walked away. Funeral mass is to be held today at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Hope Roman Catholic Church in Middle Village. --Stephanie Saul (Newsday)

Sept. 25, 2001 Michael Weinberg was relaxing on vacation, just a few minutes from tee time, when he got news the World Trade Center -- where his sister worked - had been hit by an airliner. Weinberg sped toward the city, both worried about his sister on the 72nd floor and called to duty professionally. Weinberg, 34, was a New York City firefighter. "He always did the right thing," said his father, Morty. "He was there to be helpful." Weinberg, from Maspeth in Queens, drove to the station house, then went to the Twin Towers with Fire Department chaplain Rev. Mychal Judge and Capt. Daniel Brethel, his father said. As the towers collapsed, Weinberg and Brethel tried to find shelter under a firetruck. Weinberg's family was told he died instantly. His sister, Patricia Gambino, escaped before the building's collapse. Weinberg was a talented athlete who attended St. John's University on a baseball scholarship and played minor league baseball with Detroit Tigers farm teams in Niagara Falls and Fayetteville, N.C. He was a lifeguard, personal trainer and gifted golfer who considered someday joining the senior pro tour, his father said. Still, he loved being a firefighter, his father said. "He liked the action, the camaraderie. He liked everything about it." Many of the young men Weinberg grew up with in the neighborhood joined the department too. Many are now missing. "There's so many guys like him who lost their lives," his father said, adding he was lucky enough to get his son's body back. "It's unbelievable. I can't get over it. I never will." --Lynette Kalsnes (The Chicago Tribune)

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