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September 11 Memorial: Remembering the victims who died at the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania

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Daniel Martin Caballero

Age: 21

Hometown: Houston, Texas, USA

Occupation: Electronics technician third class, U.S. Navy

Location: Ground, Pentagon

Profile:

Naval Petty Officer 3rd Class Daniel Martin Caballero, 21, was poised to see the world. He joined the Navy three years ago, trained as an electronics technician in Chicago and had worked for two years at the Pentagon, most recently staging satellite videoteleconferences.

In December, Caballero would have started his first assignment at sea -- not bad for a Texas kid whose only travel had been to visit relatives back in Mexico.

Caballero is among those officially listed as missing since the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon. His anguished parents, Carmen and Andres Caballero, wait in Fort Bend County for news.

"It's very, very hard," Carmen Caballero said yesterday.

She remembered her only son as a committed sailor, determined to rise through the ranks, always bringing his electronics and naval textbooks with him when he visited.

"He was quite dedicated to what he wanted to do," Caballero said. "To all his dreams, to his country."

As a teenager in Houston, Caballero was not into sports or other organized activities, according to his family. Instead, he liked playing pool or bowling with friends, or taking apart electronic toys. But Carmen Caballero said her son never put the toys back together, so she was surprised to discover his aptitude for electronics once he entered military life.

Carmen Caballero, who works in a medical office, and her husband, a body shop technician, had talked about visiting their son in Washington before his Pentagon tour ended. They have declined the Navy's offer to bring them here now.

"We just feel like it would be really harder for us to just stand there and see the gap in the wall there, where the destruction happened, and not be able to do anything," Carmen Caballero said. "I don't think that we could do that."

But Caballero's two sisters and his girlfriend, Melissa Portillo, who have been holding a vigil with his parents, are growing impatient and talking about making the trip.

Cabellero and Portillo had been introduced by Caballero's older sister, but they had known each other only through telephone conversations and e-mail. The young sailor had planned to visit Houston this weekend to meet her in person.

-- Debbi Wilgoren

Source: The Washington Post, AP and washingtonpost.com

The profiles in this feature were written in the months following Sept. 11, 2001.

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A day after the 9/11 attacks a makeshift memorial was created on the Arlington Memorial Cemetery fence. Seven years later, the first 9/11 memorial is opening.

Related Coverage:

3-Dimensional Virtual Memorial

Victims Remembered in Maryland

One Family's Loss

Stepping Through the Ashes

Pentagon Under Attack

Five Year Anniversary Coverage


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