Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Long Beach Speed Skater Races Against the Clocks

48-year-old Jacki Munzel eyes the 2014 Winter Olympics.

By Joseph Kellard
Fifteen seconds stands between Jacki Munzel and the Winter Olympic trials.

But the speed skater from Long Beach faces roadblocks: her age and, unlike her dominant Dutch counterparts, the inability to train regularly at a regulation-sized oval.

“I’m skating against people that are skating six days a week and I’m not,” said Munzel, who at 48-years-old has returned to the ice after hitting a barrier.

Her fastest time in the 3,000 meters is 4:32, but to qualify for the trials possibly as late as one month before the Olympics in Sochi, Russia in February 2014, she must shave her time down to 4:17.

Instead of trekking 300 miles to the nearest oval in Lake Placid, Munzel trains daily either at her West End home on a Plexiglas slide board to simulate ice, or she runs the boardwalk and performs non-stop imagination drills along the shoreline from Neptune to Tennessee beaches. She otherwise trains on a short track twice weekly, rollerblades along the Wantagh Parkway, and practices on a regulation-sized oval during three annual trips to Wisconsin and Utah or the day before official races. Each time she hits the ovals she cuts into her time.

In March, she competed in the 21st Masters International Allround Games in Germany, placing first in her age group (40-49) in all four races and first overall in two races (30 and over), all on a recently torn tendon in her left knee and with only two years of speed skating experience. Her European competition took instant notice. “They all came up to me and were like ‘who are you?,’” Munzel said laughing.

A mother of three children, ages 14 to 25, Munzel’s quest to make the Olympic trials comes after a nearly two decade hiatus from her dream of winning gold in another sport. She was a teenage figure skater who sometimes beat the best, including Katarina Witt, and made the trials for the 1984 Winter Olympics. But she was sidelined by an eating disorder, bulimia, which she developed at 18 and couldn’t find help for it.

“It was really secretive then,” said the 5-foot-7 Munzel, who weighed 110 pounds then. “So it was either I quit skating or I was going to be dead because I knew I couldn’t go on doing what I was doing to myself.”

It took her many years to recover, she said, and during that time she moved from her native Illinois to Merrick, got married and, at 24, started to teach skating. When she picked up speed skates two years ago, the sport came natural to her since as a figure skater she was known of her speed. Today she teaches youth hockey players to skate faster and with greater control at ice arenas in Long Beach, Bethpage, Freeport and Bellmore. K.J. Tiefenwerth, 20, a hockey player from Bellmore, trains with her regularly. “She’s the real deal,” he said. “She’s always on you. She mixes form with intensity.”

Her coaches are Canadian Stephen Gough, an Olympic-level trainer, and Glenn Corso, president of the Flushing Meadows Speed Skating Club. Another top trainer, Dante Cozzi, has taught and advised Munzel from her youth, and he believes firmly that she can make the Olympics and win a gold medal.

“I don’t care what her age is,” Cozzi said. “Her technique and her skill level and her determination and work — a lot of people understand what work is but they don’t really know how to apply it. She does.”

When entertaining ideas of making the Olympic team at 50, Munzel appears torn. Her rapid development in the sport has inspired cautious optimism. “If my times are great in the Olympic trials and I was one of the better skaters, yes,” she said about the prospect. But other realities, including that she would then compete against 20-somethings who eat and breath the sport, weigh on her. “I’m going to be realistic: there is no chance that I can do it without training every day on the ice,” she said.

But Cozzi believes she sells herself short and fears committing to the belief that the Olympics are within reach. Two years ago she didn’t believe she could be in the favorable position she’s in today, he noted.

“If she keeps progressing at the same pace she’s doing, she’s making the team and she’s going to be going to Russia,” he said. “She has got the ability, the skill and the drive to make the team.”

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Newspaper Story Reunites POWs

Oceanside prisoners of war meet again at VFW 52 years after World War II.

By Joseph Kellard
They both crossed the sea to fight in history's most destructive war, saw action in a major battle, were wounded and taken captive by Nazis and lay bedridden in German hospitals before they met in a prison camp. Ed Hynes and Nat Glanz have lived in Oceanside during the same 52 post-World War II years, and belonged to the same veterans organization, yet these former prisoners of war just discovered all these facts last week — thanks to the Herald.

A chaplain at the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Oceanside, Hynes read the article in the Herald's Dec. 4 issue on Glanz, who recently submitted a documentary about his POW experiences to the Library of Congress. As Hynes read the article, certain words jumped out at him, and he pieced them together.

"I really got interested in the story when he mentioned Ludwigsburg," Hynes, 80, said about the German town where Glanz was hospitalized and later imprisoned. "That was where I was put into a camp. Then, when I read he was Jewish and shot in the right leg, I remembered that was probably the fellow I was talking to when I was there. It had to be him."

Fifty-eight years later, Hynes remembered how he and Glanz met and talked once for all of 10 minutes. Following these recollections, he walked his fingers through an Oceanside phone book. At first, Glanz, 82, thought Hynes' call was a gag. But over two phone conversations they spoke for hours, and decided to reunite last Thursday at the Oceanside VFW.

As "Little Drummer Boy" and other Christmas songs played in the VFW's lounge, the former campmates embraced and exchanged photos and other memorabilia from their military days. Hynes laid out a thermal shirt ridden with holes from the shrapnel that left him hospitalized, and he handed Glanz medals, just as he did at the camp, with the hope that they would help his fellow American get out alive.

"I knew he was Jewish, and when I, a Christian, went before the Germans to be interrogated, I was somewhat scared, too, not knowing what they would do," Hynes recalled. "I told him that being Jewish, the odds are against you. So in my own way I tried to help the guy, and giving him the medals was all I could think of."

Between the two men, Hynes had the better memory of their meeting. "One thing I remember about him," he said about Glanz, "was that he was extremely calm. He wasn't complaining."

Both men took up arms in the Battle of the Bulge in January 1945, Glanz with the 291st Regiment and Hynes under George Patton's 3rd Army. After the battle, as Hynes' outfit traveled through France, he and four other soldiers were sent to an outpost in Saarlautern to scout Nazis near the Zeigfried Line. Within a week, German troops attacked an abandoned factory where the small unit had hidden. While treating a fellow wounded soldier, Hynes was hit near the lower spine with hand-grenade shrapnel.

From the Bulge, Glanz's regiment traveled to Colmar, France, where he was shot by a German machine-gunner and repeatedly interrogated and beaten.

Following their capture by the Nazis, both men convalesced in German hospitals. While Hynes was put in separate rooms with Allied soldiers, Glanz spent time in two hospitals filled with Germans and did his best to hide his identity as both an American and a Jew.

During their reunion, Hynes and Glanz recalled the conditions at the prison camp where they ended up together, including the "food" they were fed, such as bread made with sawdust and soup with garbanzo beans as hard as pebbles.

"I think those beans and sawdust had their place, because they filled your stomach a bit and you didn't have this gnawing feeling all the time," Glanz recalled as Hynes nodded.

They discussed the guards' treatment of prisoners, which involved shooting men for no apparent reason, and traded memories of war-torn Europe after their liberation, particularly the homeless, desperate and starving civilians they encountered but were powerless to help. Both men were still at the camp when French soldiers liberated them. Hynes had been imprisoned for three weeks, and Glanz for over three months.

Both men moved to Oceanside in the early 1950s, Glanz from Brooklyn and Hynes from Rockaway Beach. Hynes worked then at the A&P supermarket (now the vacant Edward's on Long Beach Road), where Glanz and his wife, Muriel, shopped regularly. In the mid-1980s, both men joined the Nassau-Suffolk chapter of Prisoners of War. Glanz didn't attend meetings, but Hynes made the trips to Northport, though he stopped going and joined the local VFW in the early 1990s. That's when Glanz started trekking to the north shore to attend the POWs meetings.

"[Prisoners of War] really should have listed all the camps that our members were in," said Glanz, now a vice-commander of POW. "A number of men know they were in the same camp, but if we had listed their camps, this reunion could have happened 10 years ago. But how we did come to meet is just a fantastic story."

Glanz will invite Hynes to the YJCC in Oceanside, where the area Jewish War Veterans meet, to present him with a chai pendant, a Jewish symbol for good luck, and they both plan to stay in touch.

"I spoke to my daughter yesterday," Hynes said, explaining that he'd told her about the way in which he learned about Glanz, "and she said, 'Dad, it sounds like something that the good Lord did.' I called it a one-in-a-million shot, but she said it was more than that."

* This story originally appeared in the Oceanside-Island Park Herald on December 18, 2003.

Returning the favor
Glanz gives Hynes Jewish symbol of life

By Joseph Kellard

After nearly six decades, Nat Glanz returned the gesture.

When Glanz and Ed Hynes met and spoke briefly while imprisoned in a Nazi camp in 1945, Hynes handed him two Catholic miraculous medals, hoping they would help his fellow American get out alive. Last week, at the Jewish Community Center in Oceanside, Glanz presented Hynes with a chai, a Jewish symbol for life, a month after the POWs reunited since their first meeting 58 years before.

"May it bring you good luck and happiness," Glanz told Hynes when he handed him the chai, "and thank you for being such a mensch."

Their reunion was sparked by a story in the Herald after he showed the Jewish War Veterans in Oceanside a documentary on his war experiences that was recently archived in the Library of Congress. Hynes read the story and recognized certain details about Glanz that he recalled from their 10-minute meeting at the Ludwigsberg prison camp. After living in Oceanside for 52 years, both men finally reunited last month at the Veterans of Foreign War in Oceanside, where Hynes gave Glanz two more miraculous medals.

Prior to his presenting the chai at the ceremony last Sunday, Glanz recalled for all in attendance — including the JWV, several members of Hynes's family, Legislator Denise Ford, and Hempstead Councilman Anthony Santino — the circumstances leading up to their meeting in the camp. When they first met, there were rumors in the camp that allied troops were nearby, and Glanz was concerned the guards would do something drastic before they left the camp, especially to him because of his Jewish faith.

"Ed gave me two miraculous Catholic medals to help me through this dire situation," Glanz recalled.

On receiving his chai, Hynes thanked Glanz and vowed, "I will wear it with pride."

Hynes said he remembered his fellow American's wounded thigh that was riddled with German machine gun bullets, and recalled that Glanz said he hoped they wouldn't amputate his leg because he was a Jew.

"Being a prisoner myself, if they mistreated me or not, I was a soldier and I was prepared," Hynes said. "But I wouldn't want to be a prisoner in a German prison camp and be Jewish. I tried to think of something to help him, and I suggested the religious medal. I hope it worked. God bless."

A daughter of a World War II veteran herself, Ford told the audience, "I think this story of two men helping one another in trying times just brings out the importance of what brotherhood is."

Both the JWV and Santino presented both POWs with citations and plaques recognizing their heroic actions in war.

"This is an inspiring story that needs to be told again and again," Santino said, "because once we forget the sacrifices that were made for us, by our veterans, in order to keep us free, we will no longer be a great society."

* This story originally appeard in the Oceanside-Island Park Herald in January 2004.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Capturing a Terror-Filled Day

Oceanside cameraman featured on Fox 9/11 special

By Joseph Kellard

With a TV camera on his shoulder, Keith Lane had been to Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, Honduras and other war zones, and he videotaped the fear on the soot-covered faces of victims from the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. But nothing has ever disturbed him more than a particular seen from last September.

Lane, an Oceanside resident and cameraman with Fox News for 14 years, arrived at the WTC on September 11 just minutes after the second tower was hit, and while filming the chaos that unfolded before him he witnessed people leaping to their deaths.

"I just couldn't imagine what kind of hell on earth it was up there that their only choice was to jump 80 to 90 floors," Lane told the Herald. "It was hard to comprehend. I couldn't even come to terms with that until a week or two ago. I couldn't even talk about it without breaking down."

Recently, Lane was filmed voicing this sentiment in an interview for a half-hour special aired by Fox News on the one-year memorial of that horrific day. "Capturing 9/11 Stories from Behind the Lens" featured Lane and two of his colleagues, Dave Corporon and Jack Taliercio, who told their experiences videotaping the momentous event.

That day, on hearing that a plane had crashed into a twin tower, Lane bypassed the elevator at Fox's 67th St. headquarters, rushed down its stairs and drove his work truck along the FDR Drive to the WTC.

Once there, authorities stopped him from getting to the towers. Instead Lane planted himself in front of the nearby Millennium Hotel, where injured and distraught people were already being treated, and he began videotaping the shocked and crying innocents hurrying from the smoldering skyscrapers.

"I'm thinking to myself, 'How are they going to put this fire out? How are they going to put the fire in two buildings like this out?,'" he said in "Capturing 9/11 Stories."

Meanwhile, Taliercio worked his way down to the WTC, at one point filming the plaza, the once busy square between the towers. The speaker system continued to play a muzak version of Billy Joel's "She's Always A Woman" out on to a then eerily desolate area as debris rained down from the gapping black holes above. Taliercio noticed a man clutching to a window outside a floor just below where the flames and smoke were raging inside. Eventually, the man slid and fell.

"I'm shooting the most unbelievable thing that I will ever experience in my life," Taliercio said, recalling his thoughts at that moment.

Amid such surreal scenes the cameramen were unaware they were shooting the results of a terrorist attack, and never did they think the towers would collapse.

But as the first tower began to fall and rumble loudly, Lane, Corporon and Taliercio filmed the people running in terror as thick, tornado-like clouds of dust and debris barreled around buildings and chased them through the streets. They stuck around as long as they could to videotape these scenes. But when they finally ran it was too late; the ominous clouds had quickly surrounded them. The frames of their cameras turned pitch black.

"It was so black you couldn't see your hand in front of your face," Corporon recalled. "And, say, for the first thirty seconds to the first minute, when that cloud swallowed me up, I really thought I was going to suffocate."

Lane, who noticed that pieces of debris pelting him were getting larger, suffered from similar effects. "I just kept clearing my throat and saying, 'You've got to keep breathing. You've got to keep breathing,'" he said.

The quiet that ensued resembled that of a street after a heavy snowstorm, and the only sounds were muffled hollers for help or the cry of names. After they made their way out of their darkest experience, and after they came out from cover following the fall of the second tower, Lane and his colleagues kept working, wandering the war-torn streets. Among the many images they shot were survivors crawling out from underneath parked cars blanketed in ash.

Lane returned to his truck on Fulton and Broadway, one block from the WTC, and after digging it out of debris he parked it in front of Pace University, where firefighters had created a command station. Not wanting to leave an event of that magnitude, he lived out of his truck for four days. But thoughts of his family in Oceanside, his wife Susan and daughter Tara, 10, were most poignant the first day.

"I got a page about 8:30 that night that just said, 'Daddy, I Love You,'" said Lane as an emotional lump formed in his throat.

He returned home early that Saturday morning, but after just five hours, after showering and packing a bag with some needed materials, he returned to lower Manhattan for a week.

Professionally, the events of that infamous day culminated in Lane, Corporon and Taliercio being awarded "General Excellence in Photo Journalism" by the New York State Associated Press Broadcasters Association.

"It's an award I'm honored to win, but I wish it was a story I never had covered because of the terrible story it was and the number of people we lost," Lane said.

In addition to his work as a cameraman in dangerous circumstances, Lane has volunteered as a firefighter for 21 years, six of them with the Oceanside Fire Department. So since he has come face to face with fire and smoke often enough, he didn't fear for his life much when he was caught in the dust and debris from the fallen towers. But when he reflects on the day, when he thinks about what he went through as a cameraman to capture the destruction, chaos and victims on videotape, he realizes he was also one of them.

"I never considered any of us survivors of the World Trade Center collapse. But I guess we were." Lane said in the last frame of "Capturing 9/11 Stories. "I guess we were."

* This story was originally published in the Oceanside-Island Park Herald in September 2002.

Retired Firefighter's Values Reinforced Since 9/11

Brother of fallen FDNY veteran reflects on the years after the terrorist attacks.

By Joseph Kellard

To Rob Carlo, it felt like September all summer.

His brother, Michael Carlo, 34, was a firefighter with Engine 230 in Bedford-Stuyvesant since 1994 when he was killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11, and Rob avoids any thought about that horrific day until the anniversary each September. But this year, with the heightened attention on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, and with many people calling him after Osama bin Laden was killed in May, Rob has relived 9/11 daily.

“I usually can put it off until September and then start worrying about it, but this year it’s just been overwhelming since then," Rob said.

A retired firefighter from Ladder 23 in Harlem who arrived at the WTC site later on Sept. 11, Rob said he's been mostly unaffected by post-9/11 events, from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the memorial and mosque controversies at the site, to the death of bin Laden. He said he feels for the families of troops who were killed or wounded, and he finds it too stressful to get involved with any controversies.

“I can’t say anything has changed me or my values so much," Rob said about the aftermath of 9/11, "it just reinforced what I always knew and always believed in."

He and Michael always believed that they were never too busy to let anything interfear with what mattered most to them, from vacations to family.

“If we had an vacation we wanted to take, that was just as important as a job that we had to get done,” Rob explained. “So we put it on the calendar. We made sure we got it done. A family reunion that was coming up, it might not be the most convenient time, but if you don’t spend that time with family, you don’t know if you’ll ever be able to do it."

Rob recalled a deadly fire in Woodside on Father’s Day in 2001, a day he spent with his brother. “We talked about how we could walk out of there and get hit by a bus, or come down with a life-threatening disease, or something could happen at work on our jobs as firemen,” he said. “So we really did appreciate living life and we didn’t waste any time.”

Rob rented a house in Long Beach with Michael in 1999, after which he moved there permanently. Rob describes Mike as a life-of-the-party type who enjoyed socializing and spending his time on the water, kayaking and boating. They played volleyball together on the beach, between Grand Boulevard and New York Avenue, where Rob decided to buy a bench on the boardwalk in his brother's memory.

He chose his Michael's favorite quote, one by Mark Twain that he kept on a Post-It note over his desk, for the plaque inscription: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones that you did. So throw off the bowline, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade wins in your sails. Explore, dream, discover.”

A few years ago on Sept. 11, Rob emerged from a swim in the ocean off Grand and noticed a crowd had gathered around his brother’s bench. They were Michael’s childhood friends from their native Whitestone, who since 2002 had made it a ritual to visit his bench before sundown on the anniversary.

Rob then had something else he would never miss each year. He joins Michael’s friend and his own friends there at sunset each 9/11, along with family members, fellow firefighters and neighbors from Tennessee Avenue. The crowd has grown each September, he said, and estimated that some 75 people attended last year.

“It’s the one time I get to see my brother’s friends,” Rob said, “and it always feels like he’s there, because when I see them all around we start sharing stories about him, and someone always has a new one.”

Remembering Ken Marino

Firefighter swung for the fences with family and friends

By Joseph Kellard

Weeks after her husband, Ken Marino, was killed in the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, Katrina Marino e-mailed his favorite baseball player, Ken Griffey of the Cincinnati Reds, requesting that he hit a home run for her husband that day.

Griffey followed through not only with this request, but also with his promise to meet Katrina and her two children when the Reds visited New York this summer to play the Mets.

"[Griffey] played ball with the children for a while and he talked to me for a while, and he let the kids climb all over him,” Katrina said about their meeting on Shea Stadium's baseball diamond. “He was great.”

This fulfilled promise was one bright spot for Katrina over the past year, a time that for her has felt, she said, "like a lifetime," and for Mary Ann Marino, Ken's mother, "like one long day that really hasn't ended," she said.

An Oceanside native and firefighter with the elite Rescue 1 in New York City, Marino was among the first firefighters at the World Trade Center after 8:45 a.m. on Sept. 11. Before that unthinkable morning, the Marinos, residing in their Monroe, New York home for two years, were awaiting approval of a variance to build a second-floor bedroom for their newborn boy, Tyler. If the variance was approved earlier, Ken would likely have been home on Sept. 11 building the new room.

"He was such a big part of my life and now I don't have him," Katrina lamented.

As a means of coping with her grief, she busied herself by cooking for the volunteer firefighters who did build Tyler's room, and by furnishing and decorating it, all of which took about 4 months.

Marino moved to Long Beach in 1987 and joined the city's fire department, but he always dreamed of becoming a New York City firefighter. That dream was fulfilled three years later, as Marino joined with Rescue 4 in Queens. Standing 6'5", he was known as "Little Ken," and fellow firefighters described him as "a kid at heart." In 1994, he began dating Katrina, a native of Massachusetts, who at the time was a TWA flight attendant living in Long Beach. The couple married three years later, started a family and moved to Monroe.

"If it wasn't for my children, I wouldn't know what to do," Katrina said about her son, now two years old, who responds happily to photos of Ken, and Kristine, 4, who understood early on that her father would never return home again.

In addition to her grandchildren, in whom she sees so much of Ken, Mary Ann said she and her family, daughter Lynda and husband Patrick, have derived a lot of strength from the "tremendous amount of support" from their family, friends and people in their community. "They have seen to it that they were there for us, and at times we didn't realize that we needed them," Mary Ann explained.

While she and Katrina tried counseling, they both found it did little to assist them in their grief. Instead, Katrina talks regularly with another widow whose husband worked and lost his life with Ken. She also consults a woman from Columbia University who conducted a pre-Sept. 11 study of over 200 young families who have lost loved ones.

"I think that to have someone who has numerous experiences with people like me, especially with children, has been very helpful," Katrina said. "She's explained to me the different stages that widows like me go through and she believes I'm right on track."

Mary Ann derives emotional fuel to carry on by remembering Ken's strength of character in hard times and by living out his wishes.

"I know that he would want us to be there for Katrina, and he would definitely want us to be in his children's lives," Mary Ann said. "And keeping that in mind, we know that we somehow have to make a go of this because we would be letting him down if we weren't there for his children."

* This story was originally published in the Oceanside/Island Park Herald in September 2002.

'The Best of the Best'
Marino remembered for his unmatched passion for firefighting

By Joseph Kellard

If its dimensions could have been quantified, Ken Marino's love for firefighting was an Empire State Building among skyscrapers. His interest in the profession was sparked at the time when young boys begin thinking about what they want to be when they grow up. But for Marino, the interest developed into a passion that he carried into adulthood.

"Ever since I could remember, ever since Kenny was very, very young, he always wanted to be a fireman," said Mary Ann Marino, Ken's mother, during a street dedication ceremony last Saturday in honor of her son, who died while saving people at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

From the corner of Weidner Avenue and Frank Street in Oceanside, where Marino played fireman with his friends, and before some 200 people, including firefighters from the Oceanside, Long Beach and New York City departments, Mary Ann recounted her son's passion for his career.

As soon as he turned 18, Marino joined Hose Co. One in Oceanside, and went on to departments in Long Beach, Mineola, Monroe and New York City. Spending 11 years in the city department, Marino served for the last two with Rescue One Co., an elite FDNY unit. When he joined the city department, Mary Ann and her husband, Pat, were nervous, and asked Ken why he'd want to take on a job that involved the danger of fighting fires in tall buildings.

"He'd say, 'You don't understand,'" Mary Ann told the crowd under a cloudless sky and a large American flag ruffled by a cool breeze. The flag hung above an arch formed by two stately fire engine ladders. "He was right, we didn't understand. And we still don't understand. But what we do understand is the strength, bravery and heroism that was Kenny. … What we also understand is that to be a firefighter is not a job, it's a calling. It's to be a very special person, and that was Kenny -- very, very special."

Anthony Granice, a friend of Marino's when he was growing up on Weidner Avenue, recalled that his friend had never stopped talking about becoming a firefighter since he was 6.

"His firematic skills were second to none," Granice said about the fireman Marino became. "This passion to save lives eventually led Kenny to Rescue One. Not just anyone could be a member of Rescue One. It was an elite unit that requires a unique individual who has excellent physical skills, drive and dedication. Kenny was the best of the best."

"Where do we get such heroes?" Hempstead Councilman Anthony Santino asked. "They come from places like Oceanside, streets like this. Ordinary men and women, growing up in this great country and community, living their lives, learning their lessons, being led on the path of life that leads to tremendous things."

The most important lesson of Sept. 11, said Marino's sister, Lynda, is to remember the tremendous things people like her brother did — namely, "that when disaster strikes, there are people in this world who defy the human instinct to flee and conversely run in the direction of danger in order to help."

Lynda characterized her brother as a valiant, strong, smart, funny and hardworking man who "cared deeply for his family and absolutely loved his job."

While it's painful for her to imagine what he saw and felt while doing that job at the WTC inferno, Lynda continued, "I seek comfort in knowing that he lost his life doing what he loved to do most."

Marino's father, Pat, stood between his wife and daughter and laid a comforting hand on their shoulders throughout the ceremony, as Marino's wife, Katrina, held their son, Tyler, 3, and daughter Kristin, 5, stood close by.

"I truly believe that by remembering and celebrating the lives of [heros like Marino], we weave grief, pain and sorrow into strength, courage and connection," said Supervisor Kate Murray before she lifted Tyler and Kristin to pull the rope and unveil the street sign that reads, "Kenneth J. Marino Avenue."

Granice told the crowd that just as the twin towers should be rebuilt to remind future generations of what originally stood at the WTC site, this sign will remind kids that heroic men have come from the streets where they play.

Katrina said after the ceremony that it held a lot of meaning, having taken place on the street where her husband was raised. "He always bragged about us, so it was great that we got the chance to brag about him," she said.

Marino's mother, who said that holding the ceremony just days before the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks made the memorial more meaningful, implored the crowd to "never forget" 9/11, the bravery of the men and women who ran into the towers to save lives, the innocent people who were killed that day, "and Kenny."

One of Marino's buddies who will never forget him is Frank Corona, an Oceanside native who fights fires with Ladder 119 in Williamsburg. After the ceremony, Corona recalled how Marino exhibited unusual confidence when he played softball in Oceanside, and how he always had a smile on his face and a positive attitude. Corona's fondest memory of Marino, however, is of when Corona was in the fire academy and was having trouble tying knots for rescue procedures, a requirement for becoming a firefighter.

"Ken took the time out of his schedule and invited me over to his house, and he had the whole entire course laid out in his backyard," Corona recalled. "And station by station, he took me and taught me, and he showed me a video. The next day was the test, and I aced it. He gave me the confidence. He was just so into the job. There weren't enough days in the week for the fire department. Even on his off time, he was learning how to be a better fireman. He was an awesome fireman."

* This story was originally published in the Oceanside/Island Park Herald in September 2003.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Remembering Laura Marchese, 35

WTC victim memorilized by friends and family

By Joseph Kellard

For Anthony and Lorraine Marchese, it was like reliving Sept. 11 all over again.

Last month, the Freeport couple learned that the remains of their daughter, Laura Merchese, an Oceanside resident and a victim at the World Trade Center, were identified through DNA as being at the devastated site.

"I guess a person tends to fantasize, 'Oh, they never found her, maybe she got away,'" Lorraine said. "And I think just the confirmation gave us that bang all over again, because you realize she was there. And it's very hard, very hard dealing with that, and not to have a body is overwhelming."

On Sept. 11, Marchese, 35, had been working for about a year on the 102 floor of the WTC as an executive assistant with Alliance Consulting Group. For 12 years before that, she had worked with Reliance National, an insurance company in Manhattan, where she elevated herself from a ground-floor position to executive assistant. Less than two weeks before the terrorist attacks, Marchese, a life-long Freeport resident, and her fiancé, Joseph Mendez, a life-long Island Park resident, had moved into their new home in Oceanside, happily nestled between their families.

"Laura was a very special person and one of a kind: successful, intelligent, caring, and she touched a lot of people's lives," Mendez said. "It's hard to lose a loved one who you are planning to spend your whole life with and they are just taken away. But what keeps me going is I knowing that she's in a better place and some day I'll see her again."

Echoing similar thoughts about coping with the loss of Laura, Lorraine said, "I pray and I have faith that she is with family members who have passed. I think that's what truly keeps me going. I believed Laura's remains would be found. I never gave up hope."

To assist them in their ongoing grief, the Marcheses attend counseling sessions at South Nassau Communities Hospital's World Trade Center Child and Family Counseling Program in Rockville Centre, where they meet with other parents whose children perished at the WTC.

"If it was not for the wonderful people who are a part of this group, I don't know how we would have managed," Lorraine explained. "It helps to know that we are not the only people who are suffering like this."

Not a big believer in counseling, Mendez has found comfort and strength in his family and friends and through other means.

"I keep working and I keep on moving, and that's how I deal with it," he said. "I keep Laura in my memory every day, and that's what gets me through."

Laura will be remembered by loved ones as someone who was enormously considerate of others, and who gave much of her time volunteering for certain causes, such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

"She was the kindest, sweetest person I'd ever met,” Mendez said. “She would do anything for anyone she or I knew.”

A testament to the many lives that Laura deeply touched is the many dedications that have been made in her memory. A group of her closest friends dedicated a bush and a plaque at Holy Redeemer Parish in Freeport, which they all attended while growing up. The Freeport Memorial Library, where Laura worked for five years while attending Freeport High School and Nassau Community College, dedicated a tree in her name. And Laura's sister, Cathy Collins, recently held a ceremony and unveiled a wall comprised of six ornamental pear trees and a plaque on a rock before them in her backyard in West Babylon.

Marie Thomas, Laura's other sister, has had Masses said in her honor at her local parish in Pleasentville. Others who knew Laura — from people who rode the train with her to work each day to past co-workers — gave donations in her name to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Presently, the Marcheses are unsure what they will do on Sept. 11, but attending the ceremony planned for New York City will probably be too emotionally overwhelming for them, Lorraine indicated. One thing is for sure, however. They will continue to pray for what they still have.

"I pray for the good health of my two girls that are alive and my husband," Lorraine said." I think that's basically truly what keeps me going."

* This story was originally published in the Oceanside-Island Park Herald in September 2002.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Remembering Tim Haviland, 41

'He absolutely loved New York'

By Joseph Kellard

His profession didn't lead him to New York, but his heart did. Tim Haviland moved to the Big Apple after meeting his wife, Amy, on the Internet. He loved New York, and when he had the opportunity to work in the Twin Towers he glowed, said Amy Haviland.

Tim died during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. He was vice-president and project manager for insurance brokerage Marsh McLennan, a company that lost many employees in the attacks.

"He was on top of the world,” Amy said. “He'd go to the windows every day and watch the ferries and all the people below. He loved the hustle and bustle and the people. He loved talking to the people."

Haviland was born in Bar Harbor, Maine, in 1960. He moved with his family to Ames, Iowa, at age 2, graduated from Ames High School in 1978 and relocated to Minneapolis-St. Paul, where he attended Macalester College.

After graduation, he landed a job with Lawson Computer Associates, a software firm in St. Paul, where he started in the mailroom, and while he was a manager in that department, he introduced many computer programs to make it operate more efficiently. After 12 years, he left the company and returned to school to learn computer programming.

Amy and Tim originally came to know each other through an Internet matchmaking web site in April 1996. They had much in common, except their locations. Living a thousand miles apart, they nevertheless decided to remain Internet friends and corresponded with each other often.

In August of that year, Tim decided to accompany a coworker who was flying to New York on a business trip, and he arranged to meet Amy at LaGuardia Airport. After spending some time with each other, Tim returned two weeks later to attend the christening of Amy's niece.

"I thought he was the most wonderful person I'd ever met," Amy recalled. "He was kind, generous, loving, honest."

In October, Tim set up a series of job interviews in New York and was hired by Avis to run their computer program department at twice the salary he was making in Minnesota. In January 1997, he moved to Oceanside with Amy and her two children, Nicholas, 14, and Jesse, 12. They were engaged in November 1998 and married in August 1999.

"He took over managing my children's lives and became their financial supporter and their homework man," Amy said. "He was very devoted to me and my children."

By September 11, Haviland had been working for Marsh McLennan for more than three years and he expected to be promoted to vice president in October. He started at the company's headquarters at 1166 Avenue of the Americas, and later his office was switched to the 96th floor of the North Tower at the World Trade Center.

"He absolutely loved New York and working in the city to begin with, but when he transferred to the Twin Towers he glowed," Amy said.

The day before the attacks, Amy had returned home from the hospital after undergoing abdominal surgery. The next morning, the couple performed their usual routine, which included driving Tim to the Oceanside Long Island Rail Road station each morning.

"I said to him before we left that morning, 'do you want to go vote now?' He said, 'I would but, you know how Jesse gets if she can't push all the levers for me. I'll come home early and we'll all go vote.'"

After dropping him off, Amy returned home and went back to bed to convalesce. The bedroom phone rang and woke her from her sleep. It was Amy's sister Christine.

"She tried to be very calm," Amy explained. "She said, 'Amy, I think you should put on the TV because they think a plane just flew into the World Trade Center.' I put on Channel 4 immediately and started screaming, because I could see it was his tower."

When Tim failed to call her, Amy knew he was in trouble.

"He would have called me if he could have, even if he were choking with smoke,” she said. “I called his voice mail and then his cell phone. And I kept calling his cell phone. He never answered."

Amy also characterized her husband as someone who always walked around with a smile.

"Our neighbors, who took the train with him in the morning, miss him so much because he always lightened up their morning."

Haviland was someone who was passionate about his interests, whether it was studying computer books to increase his knowledge in his profession, politics or the Minnesota Vikings, Amy said.

Tim once brought Amy to the Metrodome in Minnesota to watch the Vikings play the Green Bay Packers. "I knew nothing about football, but instead of shushing me because he wanted to watch the game, Tim explained the rules and every detail,” she recalled. “He was a very patient man."

Haviland was also a Knicks and Yankees fan, but Amy and her children were Met fans. "Last year's World Series when the Yankees played the Mets was a big deal in our house,” she said.

For Amy, what makes coping with her husband's loss most difficult is seeing her children's suffering. Amy said she feels "very depressed" and wants to "hide under the covers and not come out," but that she has to take care of her family.

"To sit at our dinning room table at night and try to have dinner without Tim, I haven't been able to eat,” she said. “My kids are destroyed. It's just an awful, awful feeling."

Amy and her family's saving grace have been their relatives, who were with her at every moment in the wake of the attacks and the search and rescue efforts.

"I don't think I would have survived this without them," Amy said.

A memorial service was held for Haviland last Sunday at Vanella's Funeral Chapel in Oceanside.

* This story originally appeared in the Oceanside/Island Park Herald in November 2001.