MASPETH HERO - Family remembers their firefighter – QNS.com

MASPETH HERO – Family remembers their firefighter

Five years ago, Maspeth resident firefighter Michael Weinberg, 34, was waiting to begin a round of golf in the clubhouse at Forest Park golf course, when he saw that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. As a firefighter for Engine 1, Ladder 24 in Manhattan, Weinberg raced out of the clubhouse and started driving down towards the site, knowing his sister Patricia Gambino worked in Two World Trade Center.
While he was driving toward downtown, Weinberg left his car in Long Island City and jumped on an emergency vehicle to make his way down to the site, but he would not return. Weinberg died as the towers collapsed on the truck he was in; making him one of the 343 New York City firefighters killed that day and who will be remembered on the fifth anniversary of the attacks.
&#8220I knew he was gone immediately,” said Michael's father Morty, who served as a firefighter for 15 years.
&#8220My family was a mess for a full year; we would cry at the drop of a pin,” said Gambino, who walked down from the 44th floor of the Two World Trade Center after the second plane hit the tower and escaped a few minutes before the towers fell. &#8220I think it gets easier because you start to heal more.”
Michael attended St. John's University on a baseball scholarship and helped lead the team to a Big East Championship as well as a victory against Mike Mussina's Stanford team, before he began his professional baseball career in the Detroit Tigers organization. He reached the Tigers' Triple A affiliate before injuries to his shoulder and leg forced him to give up his Major League Baseball aspirations.
Morty described his son as a person who lived to help others whether he was working as a lifeguard, physical trainer or volunteering to feed the homeless and visiting children at hospitals. Michael also worked as a model and was featured in the first FDNY hunks calendar that has become increasingly popular since its inception.
Although the five years since the attack have helped ease some of the pain, Morty still visits Michael's grave at St. John's cemetery frequently, and the family plans to put a plaque in his honor at the Forest Park golf course.
Gambino, who currently lives with her husband and their 2-year-old twins in Atlantic Beach, NY, found her own way to honor her brother who rushed to the World Trade Center to try to save her and so many others five years ago, naming one of her children Michael in his honor.
However, she conceded she &#8220will never look at an airplane the same way.”

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