Maurice Barry, 48, rushed into the flames
As thousands fled the searing flames and smoke of the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, Maurice Barry ran in.
A Port Authority police officer assigned to the PATH commuter train system, Officer Barry rushed from Jersey City to Lower Manhattan as police learned of the terrorist attack.
He was last seen in the North Tower, attempting to reach trapped and frightened workers on the structure's upper floors.
"It was just in his nature," said his son, Jon Barry, 20, an Army reservist from Rutherford as he rattled off a list of rescue efforts his father was involved in.
"They (police) said he went up to the higher floors to get people out," Barry said. "That's the last time they saw him. Sometimes it doesn't seem real, but he did it. We're real proud of him for that."
Maurice V. Barry, who would have turned 49 a week ago, was one of 37 Port Authority police officers believed to have perished in the attack.
Almost all were assigned to locations other than the World Trade Center but rushed to help others escape the blazing towers.
"Every one of the 37 members of the Port Authority Police Department gave up their lives saving lives," said Gus Danese, president of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, which represents patrol officers.
"The word 'hero' doesn't do them justice," he continued.
Mr. Barry joined the Port Authority police force in 1985 after working for the agency as an engineering supervisor responsible for train repairs.
His family eventually learned of his rescue work during a LaGuardia Airport jet crash and his heroism during the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. But the information did not come easily.
"You had to pull it out of him . . . he didn't brag about it," said his wife, Marianne, as she recalled his rescuing a woman from her Bound Brook home by boat during Hurricane Floyd.
He was about to pull the woman from her bedroom into his boat when she said, "I'm not leaving without my cat," his wife said.
"He had to go through the window and get the cat, which was hiding," said Mrs. Barry.
The eldest of four brothers, Mr. Barry was born on an Air Force base in Tampa where his father was stationed.
He was raised in Jersey City and moved to Rutherford in 1978.
He was a Rutherford Ambulance Corps volunteer, a past Police Benevolent Association delegate, a former Boy Scout leader, and a member of the National Rifle Association.
Mr. Barry also is survived by son Christian, of Rutherford, and a brother, David, of Clifside Park.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Port Authority Disaster Survivors Fund, c/o Port Authority PBA, 611 Palisade Ave., Englewood Cliffs, N.J. 07632-1805.
Profile by Russell Ben-Ali published in THE STAR-LEDGER.