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Staten Island Firefighter One of 'Seven in Heaven'

By Nick Iyer
Copyright April 26, 2002 Newsday, Inc.

calabronewday.jpg Sal Calabro

Duty drove Salvatore Calabro of Staten Island to alter his plans Sept. 11.

After finishing an overnight shift at Ladder Co.101 in Red Hook, the 38-year-old American history buff headed to a gym in Staten Island to meet his friend, Angelo Musto of Staten Island. While en route, Calabro heard about the first attack on the World Trade Center on the radio, said his father-in-law, Francis Carillo of Brooklyn.

Calabro canceled his appointment with Musto and drove back to Red Hook.

Donning his turnout coat with a patch of the American Flag sewn onto each shoulder, he rode into downtown Manhattan along with six other members of his firehouse. All seven are presumed dead in the terrorist attacks and have been deemed the "Seven in Heaven" by the members of Ladder 101, Carillo said.

Calabro graduated from Lafayette High School in Brooklyn in 1980, and attended Brooklyn College and the Gem Institute of America in California. For several years, Calabro worked as a diamond setter in Manhattan, Carillo said. He was appointed to the New York City Fire Department in 1987.

Carillo remembered the weekend before the terrorist attacks - the New York Jets' season opener - when his son and daughter Francine's husband sprawled out on lawn chairs in his backyard after the game that nice afternoon. They discussed heroism and in-the-line of duty deaths, he said. "We were talking about who the real heroes are - people who knowingly and willingly enter a peril situation and lay down their lives for other people."

Calabro and his older brother by 13 months, Richard, argued when they were children in their Bensonhurst home about who would go to war and who would stay home and care for their mother, Connie, "if there ever was a war, and if either was eligible to fight in it," Richard Calabro said. The only time Salvatore Calabro second-guessed his duty to his nation was when his mother was involved. "He was very family-oriented, and loved our mother very much," his brother said.

When she passed away in 1989, Calabro got his one - and only - tattoo: a cross with a rose and the words "in memory of Mom" on his left shoulder, Richard Calabro said.

When Calabro and his older brother bought side-by-side, semi-duplex homes in Staten Island several years ago, they uprooted the fence that separated the two properties. "We shared the backyard," Richard Calabro said. "We never saw the need to have a fence running down the middle."

With his two sons, Daniel, 5, and Alexander James "A.J.," 2, Calabro was an unbelievable dad, his wife, Francine, told Newsday in November.

The YMCA South Shore Little League, where Calabro coached his oldest son, has been renamed to include the firefighter's name, Carillo said.

Calabro kept a collection of clippings from newspapers in his locker at the Red Hook firehouse where he spent his entire 14 years with the FDNY. "He had, in the bottom of his locker, clippings about every firefighter from the city that was killed in the line of duty," his brother said. "That was just the kind of guy he was. He was a patriot, and he was a good man."

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