On Sept. 11, 2001, at 8:54 a.m. from the firehouse on East Second Street in Alphabet City, Ladder Company 11, a phone call was made to the Cammarata family from their youngest son Michael. He left a message on his father’s voicemail stating: “I am going to the World Trade Center, a plane just hit it. Just tell everyone I am all right.”
Those were the last words he said to his family.
Michael was born on Oct. 7, 1978. He was only 22 years old on the date of the attack.
He was looking forward to graduating the fire academy and being permanently assigned to Ladder 11. Michael was given the gift to carry on his uncle’s shield number of 33 years, No. 1138.
As Mike grew up, he was a phenomenal athlete, accomplishing many goals. Playing Little League Baseball as an all star, he competed in the Little League World Series, reaching second in the United States and third in the world.
While being a perfectionist at baseball, he was also a star at hockey. At the age of six, Michael played ice hockey. He traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada. By age 11, Michael was playing junior varsity for Tottenville High School, while still a student at Intermediate School 7.
As he continued to travel the country and Canada playing hockey, he then moved on to be a student at Tottenville High School, making the varsity team. As a sophomore, he won Sportsman of the Team. As a junior, he was assistant captain and won the Best Defenseman title for Tottenville hockey.
At the end of junior season, as an all star for the New York Ice Hockey Association, he achieved the Most Valuable Player Award from his team. As a senior in high school, as captain, MVP a second time, he won the Best Defenseman and the scoring title for the first time in New York High School Ice Hockey History.
Michael was scouted by the Wagner College Hockey Club on Staten Island, soon to be named Rookie of the Year in 1996. In 1997, as a sophomore in college, he was the youngest to be named MVP in Wagner College history. In 1997, he led his team to the Metropolitan Collegiate Conference Championship title. In 1998, he led Wagner to another championship.
In 1999, Michael left college to work in the building industry with his father. During this time, he was anxiously awaiting a call to be accepted for a job as a fireman. This he wanted since he was a little boy. Michael scored an impressive 105 perfect score on the New York Fireman’s Test, with a list number of 345. He was quickly called to duty and sworn in as a firefighter on May 3, 2001. He had a passion and love for the job. He was in his 14-week training program awaiting official graduation. Unfortunately, he was not given the opportunity to be a part of his graduation. He had been confirmed missing since Sept. 11, 2001, a day that will never be forgotten.
Michael had an extreme love and closeness for his family, friends, and fellow firefighters. His personality made light of any dark situation. Some friends of Michael say he had the utmost class, with his brother saying, “you can never find a better best friend.”
He was determined and free-spirited. Michael was not a hero since Sept. 11, 2001. He was born a hero.
Michael left a letter in his drawer, if anything should ever happen to him:
“1 – Take care of Jenna (his girlfriend). 2 – Don’t mourn me this is the career I chose. 3 – Make my spirit live on. 4 – Remember I love you all and will be waiting for you upstairs. Signed Michael Cammarata Shield #1138.”
Michael had many accomplishments and took on a lot of responsibility because he chose goals and put all of his effort into reaching them. Knowing Mike means being able to say he went in to the World Trade Center that day knowing he may not be coming home. But he did it to save countless lives. Some families may still have a child. Children may have a mother or a father, thanks to Mike and all the other FDNY, NYPD and EMS workers from Sept. 11, 2001.
Michael truly is New York’s bravest.