Remembering Sgt. Michael Curtin, age 45, killed at the World Trade Centers, 9/11/2001.
September 11, 2001: Sergeant Major Michael Curtin, USMCR (retired after 12 years of active duty), also a sergeant in the New York City Police Department left his home in Medford, New York for another day of doing what he loved, helping people. September 11, 2001 was his wife's, Helga, 40th birthday and he planned to return home to prepare a "nice meal" for her birthday.
Sgt. Michael Curtin was a member of the Harlem-based Emergency Service Unit Truck 2 of the New York City Police Department. He was last heard from that morning when he phoned Helga to wish her a happy birthday.
Sgt. Michael Curtin was familiar with risky operations; a Marine "through and through,"Curtin had served in the Gulf war and was not only one of the first responders to the World Trade Centers, he was also one of the first to respond to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centers and the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing.
Passionately devoted to his NYPD work, it has been documented that Curtin was often risking his life to save others. A man who was trapped in a collapsed Harlem building was certain he would have died if it weren't for Curtin: "There are thousands of people in New York City that are still alive because of Mike Curtin, because of who he was, because of what he was, and because of what he was all about. To his country, to his city, to his family, Mike Curtin was a hero and he was one of the best people who ever wore the NYPD uniform." (Kerik, 2004, Gale Group)
After googling Sgt. Michael Curtin for this tribute, there was no doubt, Michael Curtin lived a heroic public life. Documented accolades can be read offered by the New York Police Commissioner, New York City Mayor, and ESU Commissioner. Curtin received posthumously, many awards including the 9/11 Heroes Medal of Valor by President George W. Bush. However, the most endearing and lasting tribute comes from his family, for Michael Curtin was their personal hero.
Helga (also a Marine) and Michael met on Christmas Eve 1979 on Parris Island. Twenty two years earlier, Helga was a PFC in the Marine Corps, Mike was a drill instructor. Helga has described her husband as "a rough and tough Marine with a very soft and cuddly side for his girls." An avid sports enthusiast, "Michael seldom sat in front of a television to watch a game. Instead, he would attend as many of his daughter's (Jennifer, Erika and Heather) basketball, field hockey, volleyball, soccer and lacrosse games as he could. [...] Michael was a very involved father, who always encouraged his kids to do whatever they wanted to do."
Their marriage was a special one, "We always worked with one another, and I always bounced my thoughts off of him. We had a genuine respect. I would always turn to him, and now he's not there to turn to. The thing I miss the most about him--is him." (Newsday.com) On September 11, 2001, Michael Curtin made a heroic difference as he entered the World Trade Center on a rescue mission; it must also be noted that each day before that day, Michael Curtin changed the lives of Helga, Jennifer, Erika, Heather, and all who loved him.
Sgt. Michael Curtin's body was recovered from the North side of the dig at Ground Zero March 6, 2002. Major David Anderson walked side by side with Helga Curtin and other recovery workers as they lovingly carried the body of Sgt. Michael Curtin back out of the rubble that he had so willingly entered into only months before. Major David Anderson writes a moving tribute recalling "the story that made Sergeant Major and Marine Corps folk hero, the story of him spotting the red stripe of Capt. Randolph L. Guzman's, USMC, dress-blue trousers in the rubble of the Oklahoma City bombing. He located a group of former Marines and then took approximately seven hours to pull him out as he said, 'we never leave our brothers behind.'" In the early hours of March 6, 2002, in front of "hundreds of proud members of the NYPD, ESU, PAPD, FDNY and Steel Workers," draped under the flag that he loved, the American Flag, Sgt. Michael Curtin, an honored 'brother' not left behind.
September 11, 2001, the day that changed America.....is most importantly the day that changed the lives of the family of Sgt. Michael Curtin forever. It is with the deepest of gratitude and honor that I thank each one of them for sharing such a personal loss so pubicly. While America takes this day to pause and reflect all that 9/11 means to us as a country, may this day also be a small blessing to each of the families who lost a loved one on 9/11/2001. For in the words of Helga Curtin, "What happened on September 11th is something that will be with me for every day of my life, yet, we know somehow we'll pass through it. Time goes on. But it reminds us of the sole appreciation that we've always had for our family, our friends, our community, and our country. He will be missed forever." May our tributes ring simultaneously with the chime of each bell rung this morning in New York, at the Pentagon, at each memorial today; may we always remember the sacrifice paid on 9/11/2001.