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Family hears of firefighter's heroic act

David Brethel, 56, and his son, David J.

David Brethel, 56, and his son, David J. Brethel, 24, reflect on Capt. Daniel J. Brethel. (Sept. 11, 2011) Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

The family of FDNY Capt. Daniel Brethel learned something new Sunday about what he was doing before he was killed at the World Trade Center.

Though he had finished his shift, Brethel rushed to the site with Father Mychal Judge, the Fire Department chaplain, and another colleague. There, FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano Sunday told the family, Brethel had been charged with organizing other off-duty firefighters who reported to the scene.

Cassano was chief of Ladder Company 24, where Brethel worked, in 2001.

David Brethel, 56, of West Islip, pushed a tear from his cheek, and his voice cracked as he thought of his younger brother.

"It's very important that people know how good a person my brother was, and that he was doing what he loved, and that we can't forget all those who perished or are sick from that day," he said.

As a boy growing up in East Meadow, he said, Daniel dreamed of being a firefighter. "My brother was a fireman through and through," he said.

Daniel Brethel's body was found beneath a fire truck under which he dove for cover as a pedestrian walkway over the West Side Highway collapsed. A resident of Farmingville, he was 43, and he and his wife had two daughters, then 12 and 14.

"I don't think time is ever going to heal for me," the brother said. "But as bad as it is, at least America hasn't forgotten."

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