Matthew Michael Flocco
Hometown: Newark, Del., USA
Occupation: Aerographer's mate second class, U.S. Navy
Location: Ground, Pentagon
"He was teaching himself to play his guitar. He'd play constantly. He was real soft, not one of those loud guys. You could hardly hear him it was so low. That was his first love, music. I always played to him all his life. I played harmonica and accordion." -- Michael Flocco, father
When Michael Flocco hangs up the phone these days, he doesn't say goodbye. He says, "God Bless America."
In the picture window of his Newark, Del., home, he and his wife, Sheila, have hung their son Matthew's Navy dress blues and his peacoat. There are photos of him in his Little League uniform and the gold medal from hisbaseball team's 1996 championship season.
"We're just so proud of him, and we're going to miss the hell out of him," said his dad. "He dedicated his life to his job and his friends. I learned more from him in the past three years than he ever learned from me."
Navy Aerographer's Mate 2nd Class Matthew Michael Flocco, 21, was in the Pentagon on the morning of Sept. 11 when the terrorists struck. Just a few days earlier and he wouldn't have been there at that hour: He'd recently been transferred off the night shift.
Flocco was a committed athlete who ran every other day and went home to Delaware on weekends to play softball in a community league. His love of meteorology was rooted in his boyhood fascination with the Weather Channel.
It was during his senior year in high school that Flocco began to think of joining the Navy. He and some friends passed a recruiting center in town and walked in on a lark, Sheila Flocco said. "He said the more he listened to the recruiter, the more he wanted to go."
He enlisted right after graduation, his family's feelings reflected in Sheila Flocco's new Internet screen name: proudnavymom.
The weekend before he died, Flocco was home from Fort Myer for a visit. As on any other weekend, he spent time hanging out with friends and playing horseshoes. There was a Sunday breakfast of sweet pepper omelets and then the drive to the train station.
The train was running late, so Sheila Flocco had a few extra minutes with her son on the platform. As the train pulled in, she gave him one last hug and said goodbye.
-- Maria Glod
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.