A New Firefighter And New Husband

February 11, 2002

Dennis Patrick O'Berg of Babylon couldn't resist the tug of the firefighting life.

A graduate of the State University College at Geneseo, with a degree in accounting, O'Berg worked for about a year as a certified accountant with Ernst and Young, said his mother-in-law, Janet Tassey of Deer Park. "He was very smart and very ambitious and could have done a lot of things," she said.

But, O'Berg, 28, took his place among the ranks of New York's Bravest, influenced to a great degree by his father - a 30-year veteran and FDNY lieutenant who has retired because of the loss of his son and the destruction he saw first- hand at the Twin Towers.

The younger O'Berg had graduated from the academy just six weeks before the attacks, and he was assigned to Engine Co. 105 in Dean Street in Brooklyn.

In the 10 years she had known her husband, Christine O'Berg said the romantic flame in him never wavered. He gave her long-stemmed roses for no particular reason. He took her on long drives on the North Shore, where they picnicked on quiet waters along the way. And the night before Sept. 11, when he left for what turned out to his final tour, he called to say, "I love you, have sweet dreams of me.'" When she turned the sheets back at bedtime, his wife said, a note fell out with the same message.

Sept. 28 would have been their first wedding anniversary.

In addition to his wife, O'Berg's family, including his sister, Patricia, and his parents, Dorothy and Dennis, all of Brooklyn, have vowed not to close the book on their loved one's life until every last inch of Ground Zero has been combed and recovery efforts are shut down, they said.

He will always be remembered as a very independent, kind, considerate soul, a guy with head-turning good looks and an unquenchable zest for life. Everything he did, his mother-in-law said, he did with zeal and conscientiousness.

People often tell Christine O'Berg that her husband would have been out of harm's way had the attack started about an hour later, because he would have been off-duty. But knowing him, his wife believes, he would have reported to the trade center anyway. He was a changed man when he wore the uniform of the FDNY.

"He went from being so serious to being happy and smiling and more and more easygoing," Tassey said. The change in him seemed to come from the fact that he'd found his calling, she said. "He died doing something he loved. That's the only thing that keeps us sane."

-- Collin Nash (Newsday)