Nearly eighteen years after the Sept. 11 attacks, New York City firefighter Michael Haub has finally been laid to rest. Family and friends gathered in New York City's Franklin Square to remember him.
Among those attending the ceremony was 53-year-old firefighter Andrew Mulchinski.
"Mike was the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back. He would do anything for anybody, whether he knew you or not," Mulchinski says.
The two were volunteer firefighters together at the Roslyn Highlands Fire Department in Long Island, New York.
By 2001, Haub had joined the New York Fire Department. He died after responding to the attacks on the World Trade Center. More of his remains were identified last week by the New York City medical examiner's office. Haub's family and friends honored him in March 2002 with a memorial service, and again on Tuesday.
Mulchinski lost three friends in the 2001 attacks: Haub, firefighter Peter Langone, and emergency service police officer Thomas Langone.
He says the suddenness and shock of the attacks is still jarring for him. "You know you got up and went to work this morning, as we all did on September 11th, expecting to come home to your family that night," he told NPR.
Haub's remains were part of 22,000 recovered from the World Trade Center site. Mark Desire is the Assistant Director of the Medical Examiner's Department of Forensic Biology. Desire has been working to identify the remains since the attacks took place. "We have not identified 40 percent of those victims — so 1,109 have yet to be identified," Desire says.
As the painstaking process continues, Mulchinski says for his friends' families, the memory of their husband, father and son is still fresh. "9/11 lives on in them every single day. There's not a day that goes by that they don't think about their loved ones, and reflect on them. So 9/11 wasn't just a one-day event for them as it may be for others," Mulchinski told NPR.
He says Haub would not have regretted responding to the trade center attacks that day.
"Mike basically lived a life of service, serving people," Mulchinski said. "We all know that there was no place else that he wanted to be, regardless of whether he was going to lose his life that day or not, he wanted to be there."
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
Eighteen years ago today, the country was trying to digest the horror of the worst ever terrorist attack on U.S. soil. The World Trade Center towers collapsed that morning after planes crashed into them. And United Airlines Flight 93, which was headed for the Capitol, crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. And the Pentagon was devastated.
Nearly 3,000 people died. And just yesterday, one of the first responders to the tragedy, Michael Haub, was laid to rest. For those who knew him, Haub's memory is still fresh. NPR's Shannon Van Sant reports.
SHANNON VAN SANT, BYLINE: I reached Andrew Mulchinski at the Roslyn Highlands Fire Department on Long Island in New York.
ANDREW MULCHINSKI: Actually, I'm going to go in here. I'm going to put the TV on mute. I'm torturing myself as I do every year with the reading of the names...
VAN SANT: Oh, yeah.
MULCHINSKI: ...When they do it on the TV. I don't know if you ever saw it. Maybe they just do it here in New York. They read all the names of all the - everyone who was murdered at the Trade Centers.
VAN SANT: For years, Mulchinski volunteered as a firefighter alongside Michael Haub. By 2001, Haub had joined the New York Fire Department.
MULCHINSKI: Mike was the kind of guy - and I'm not trying to use a cliche - but he would give you the shirt off his back. He would do anything for anybody whether he knew you or not.
VAN SANT: Haub was one of three friends Mulchinski lost in the September 11 attacks - two firefighters and an emergency service police officer. The suddenness and shock of the attacks is still jarring for him.
MULCHINSKI: You know, you got up and went to work this morning, as we all did on September 11, expecting to come home to your family that night.
VAN SANT: Instead, for his friends' families, the loss of their father, their husband, became a long, painful memory.
MULCHINSKI: There's not a day that goes by that they don't think about their loved ones and, you know, kind of reflect on them. So 9/11 just wasn't a one-day event for them as it may have been for others.
VAN SANT: Nearly 18 years later, Haub got a final goodbye.
MULCHINSKI: Yesterday, they had sort of what I'll call a second funeral for him because they found his remains recently.
VAN SANT: Haub's were part of 22,000 remains recovered from the site of the World Trade Center. Mark Desire is the assistant director of the medical examiner's Department of Forensic Biology. Desire has been working on IDing remains since the attacks took place.
MARK DESIRE: We have not identified about 40% of those victims, so 1,109 have yet to be identified.
VAN SANT: Andrew Mulchinski says he believes that Haub would not have regretted going to the Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001.
MULCHINSKI: And we all know that there's no place else that he would have wanted to be. Regardless of the fact that if he knew he was going to lose his life that day or not, he wanted to be there.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Leonard W. Hatton Jr.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Terence S. Hatton.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Michael Helmut Haub.
VAN SANT: Shannon Van Sant, NPR News.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Donald G. Havlish Jr.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Anthony Maurice Hawkins.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Nobuhiro Hayatsu.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: James Edward Hayden.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Robert Jay Hayes.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.