A Dream Accomplished
"The first time I met him, I told people I had met a man that was 10 feet tall," Maria Barreto said about her fiancé, Lt. Dennis Mojica, who was 5 feet 11 inches tall.
She carefully outlines the story of his life: his mother died when he was a year old. He graduated from the competitive Aviation High School, and served in the Navy for 6 years and in the Fire Department for 29.
"It was his dream, it was his life, it was his first love," she said of firefighting. "I admired him even more because he knew what he was here for in this life. He really knew."
Lieutenant Mojica, 50, proposed five days before Christmas 2000, at Ms. Barreto favorite restaurant, Gino's in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, with a ring hidden inside a walnut shell on a tortoni covered with fresh raspberries and powdered sugar.
"For an old guy, I'm still trying to be romantic," she remembers him saying.
The couple enjoyed bicycling and skiing together on days off, sometimes with his 14- year-old daughter from a previous relationship. "He was always trying to extend it, one more hour, one more day," Ms. Barreto said. "Both of us appreciated so much having each other."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on January 27, 2002.
When he was a little boy, Lt. Dennis Mojica ran to the windows every time he heard the firetrucks. All he wanted to do was be a New York City firefighter, his sister said. And for 29 years, he was.
"He loved his job--the rescues, the camaraderie with the guys, working together, helping people," said sister Judith Mojica. "Anything he could do for somebody to help out, save somebody, he was there."
The 50-year-old Brooklyn man was on duty when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. Five days later, rescue workers from his firehouse found Mojica's body in the rubble.
"We got him back, not the way we wanted him, but we got an answer," his sister said. "We're fortunate."
Profile courtesy of THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE.