Michael Weinberg was relaxing on vacation, just a few minutes from tee time, when he got news the World Trade Center - where his sister worked - had been hit by an airliner.
Weinberg sped toward the city, both worried about his sister on the 72nd floor and called to duty professionally. Weinberg, 34, was a New York City firefighter.
"He always did the right thing," said his father, Morty. "He was there to be helpful."
Weinberg, from Maspeth in Queens, drove to the station house, then went to the Twin Towers with Fire Department chaplain Rev. Mychal Judge and Capt. Daniel Brethel, his father said. As the towers collapsed, Weinberg and Brethel tried to find shelter under a firetruck.
Weinberg's family was told he died instantly. His sister, Patricia Gambino, escaped before the building's collapse.
Weinberg was a talented athlete who attended St. John's University on a baseball scholarship and played minor league baseball with Detroit Tigers farm teams in Niagara Falls and Fayetteville, N.C. He was a lifeguard, personal trainer and gifted golfer who considered someday joining the senior pro tour, his father said.
Still, he loved being a firefighter, his father said. "He liked the action, the camaraderie. He liked everything about it."
Many of the young men Weinberg grew up with in the neighborhood joined the department too. Many are now missing.
"There's so many guys like him who lost their lives," his father said, adding he was lucky enough to get his son's body back.
"It's unbelievable. I can't get over it. I never will."
Profile courtesy of THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE.
A Model and a Firefighter
She was standing on the Brooklyn Bridge when the first tower fell. Everyone around her was madly dialing cellphones with no success. Suddenly, her own phone started ringing.
"It was my older brother," recalled Patricia Gambino, who had just escaped from the 72nd floor of the south tower. "He said: 'Thank God. You're all right, and Michael is on vacation.'"
Little did either of them realize that at that precise moment their younger brother, Michael T. Weinberg, 34 — the stunningly handsome baby of the family, a part-time model who had played minor league baseball for the Detroit Tigers organization and was now a firefighter — had just arrived at the World Trade Center. As the first tower collapsed, he had taken cover under a fire truck. His was among the first bodies found.
An avid golfer, His car was eventually found by the side of the highway, where he had apparently abandoned it to hitch a ride with an emergency rescue vehicle. "He loved to help people," his sister said.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 5, 2001.