On His Way to a Dream
Anthony Rodriguez was a probie and he loved it.
"There wasn't a day he didn't come in through the door without saying `I have the best job in the world,' " said his mother, Brunilda Rodriguez.
At 36, Mr. Rodriguez was one of the oldest probies, or probationary firefighters, in his class at the Fire Academy. He had already spent a full decade in the Navy as a radioman first class, and several years on top of that as an elevator mechanic and independent contractor.
Becoming a fireman was a dream realized, an exciting way to help people and provide a steady income to support his wife, Evelyn, and their growing family, which included children from a previous marriage, a 3-year-old son and a baby due in mid-September.
In the months before his formal graduation, Mr. Rodriguez was assigned to Engine Company 279 in Brooklyn. He was on his way home to Staten Island when the first plane struck the trade center. He called to tell everyone not to worry. When the second building was hit, he called again and said he was going back. "That's what he enjoyed doing," his mother said. "That made Anthony happy."
Mr. Rodriguez's daughter, Morgan Antoinette, was born on Sept. 14, while the search for her father was still going on.
At graduation ceremonies on Nov. 1, Mr. Rodriguez was posthumously made a firefighter. Firefighter Rodriguez's empty chair was one of six draped in mourning bunting that day.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on January 6, 2002.