Brother evokes firefighter hero

By ALEX GINSBERG and DON SINGLETON
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

Firefighter Michael Bocchino of Battalion 48 died in the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center, but his brother's words brought him back yesterday.

Thomas Bocchino's eulogy at the funeral Mass at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church on Fort Hamilton Parkway in Brooklyn was written in his brother's voice, as if Michael had had time to talk to his friends and family before his death.

The popular firefighter was assistant to the battalion chief, recalled Firefighter Phil Reilly of Engine 282. "He was soft-spoken, a gentleman," he said. "He was the best aide, the eyes and ears of the chief."

Michael Bocchino, who was unmarried, enjoyed working on cars, Reilly said.

The Park Slope church was packed with firefighters and family members, including his parents, Michael and Lucy Bocchino, and his sister, Debra Lavender.

They listened as Thomas Bocchino read, as if in his brother's voice.

"I'm no hero and I'm no saint," Thomas Bocchino said. "I'm just an ordinary guy who loved what he did. And if I had to do it again, I wouldn't hesitate for a minute.

"To my brothers at Engine 240, it was an honor and a pleasure to serve with you every single day. I might not be there handing out the overtime any more, but I'll be with you on every run."

Michael Bocchino, who was 45, was memorialized last October, but his family was finally able to hold a service after his remains were recently identified.

The coffin arrived on a Fire Department truck with a pipe and drum band and an honor guard escort.

"It is a great comfort for his family to know that his body was recovered, and we can bring him to the cemetery and give him a decent burial," the Rev. John Costello said. "Until this day finally came, there was unrest in the hearts of Michael's family and friends."



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