Firefighter Gary Geidel

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Gary Geidel, 44, was working as much overtime as he could. He was just two weeks from retiring after a 20-year career with the FDNY. Even so, by the time he arrived at Rescue 1 for his overtime day shift, he had missed the truck so he raced downtown on his own to join the men he had worked with for the last 11 years in the biggest rescue of their careers.

Geidel went from high school into the Marines, then followed family tradition when he became a firefighter. His father was a retired Rescue 1 Lieutenant. Two brothers also joined the FDNY. He was days away from leaving Tottenville, Staten Island, the town where he was born, and moving with his wife and daughter to their new home in Greenville, up the Hudson River.

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