A Motorcycle Man's Ritual
f you missed the muscle-bound guy with six tattoos, smirk tucked under his mustache, roaring around on a Harley-Davidson, Manny Mo — as Manuel Mojica Jr. was known — had one more way to announce himself. Without using his fingers, he could whistle so forcefully that he never had to ring his fiancée's apartment buzzer. One blast, and Anna Vecchione on the sixth floor knew he was waiting. So did people blocks away.
After they married, moved to Bellmore, N.Y., and became the parents of Stephanie and little Manny, that whistle reverberated across Little League fields, where he coached with his firefighting buddy and fellow Yankee fan, Bernard Floody. Manny Mo was a confident, low-key guy with a big heart, a king of the backyard barbecue, Firefighter Floody said.
Perhaps because Firefighter Mojica, 37, was the middle child between his sisters Vinia and Letty, he was a natural peacemaker. So when Squad Company 18 of Manhattan, a rescue unit, went to a call, he calmed the frightened. To calm his frightened wife, he never spoke of the harrowing fires. But even a Harley man with a screeching whistle had a comforting ritual: After a shift, no matter the hour, Manny Mo always had a bedtime snack of milk and cookies.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on August 11, 2002.
Manuel Mojica Jr. loved being a New York City firefighter, and the 37-year-old Bellmore resident was on duty as usual the day two planes struck the trade center. He was among the first to arrive, his wife, Anna, said.
"He was a courageous man," she said. "He wouldn't turn his back on anyone."
Mojica loved being with his family and going to the gym, she said. The couple had been married for 10 years and had two children. "He was a beautiful man," she said. "He was a loving father and husband. He was my best friend."
Profile courtesy of THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE.