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.
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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.
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