America's Lost

Marino, Kenneth
Day Began With a 'Perfect Visit' From His Family

By Samuel Bruchey

September 20, 2001

Less than an hour before New York City firefighter Kenneth Marino was called down to the World Trade Center, his wife and two small children surprised him with a visit to his firehouse.

It was Tuesday morning, Sept. 11, and the three were on their way to 24th Street, where Marino's daughter, Kristin, who sometimes models, had a photo shoot.

But Kristin, 4, had cried about the shoot the night before, so Marino's wife, Katrina, thought seeing Daddy might cheer her up. Besides, she said, their son, Tyler, 1, just loves the big red trucks.

The men of Rescue One, on West 43rd Street, were asleep upstairs, but Marino, 40, was working desk duty, so he lifted the kids into a truck and placed them at the wheel.

He sat Kristin on his lap and whispered into her ear.

"He must have been telling her that if she took a pretty picture he would give her a prize," Katrina said. Maybe bubble gum stashed behind the clock back home in upstate Monroe. That was their special game. Daddy's baseball gum.

Her husband looked so handsome in his shorts, she thought. Six-foot-five with those long, muscular legs. He'd run cross-country track at Oceanside High School, fast enough to make the school's hall of fame. He played on baseball teams, too. Those legs were every bit as lean.

"Bye, sexy guy," Katrina called out as they left, and watched him walk bashfully back inside.

"It was just the perfect visit," Katrina recalled yesterday.

On their way downtown, Katrina, a former flight attendant, heard the loud engine of an airplane overhead, and thought it must be flying low.

Through a window of her daughter's modeling agency, Katrina watched the first plane crash into the World Trade Center. Then came the sirens.

"Daddy's probably there," she recalled thinking. "I had chills about it, but you don't think any further than him going to save people and help out. You would never think the worst."

Nine men responded from Rescue One after two hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Towers, including four who were off duty at the time. Two of their bodies were later recovered from the stairwell of Tower One. But seven, including Marino, are still missing.

Pat Marino and his wife, Mary Ann, who live-with Marino's sister, Lynda-in Oceanside, figure their son was probably racing up the stairs.

"If I know Kenny, he was right in the middle of it," his father said.

Kristin knows the towers collapsed when her Daddy was still inside, Katrina said. At night she focuses on it more, when the two sit down to color with crayons. On Tuesday night, she wrote her Daddy a letter.

It said: 'I love you so much. Please come home and where's my prize."

"That's when I realized what he had whispered," Katrina said yesterday. "I know he hadn't gotten it yet, because he always gets it on the way home."

Victims' names, photographs and stories compiled from reports by Newsday and the Associated Press.

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