A Veteran Volunteers at the Memorial to Continue Honoring Those Lost

Michael Trofinoff (right) with a member of the FDNY at the Tunnel to Towers 5K. (Photo courtesy Michael Trofinoff).

The 9/11 Memorial is a special place for Michael Trofinoff and he shows that with a strong commitment as a volunteer.

Trofinoff has dedicated nearly 100 hours as a memorial volunteer since February 2013, despite having spent two months this summer on assignment as an Army reservist. This is his 24th year with the Army, which includes a tour of duty each in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“There are eight million people in New York City and many volunteer their time in some way. This is my way to give back to the community,” Trofinoff said.

He had just completed his active duty in the Army before 9/11, and was living near Fort Benning, Ga., while going to graduate school. The events of 9/11 drastically altered his future.

“Everything for me after 9/11 has been deployment after deployment,” Trofinoff said. “The memorial is a very special place for me as most of my company was wounded in Iraq, and a couple were killed. I volunteer to honor them and all the service members who have lost their lives as a result of the war that started here in New York on 9/11.”

In his first visit to the Memorial Trofinoff found the name of victim Frederick J. Ill Jr. Trofinoff served in the same Army Reserve battalion that Ill did in Bullville, N.Y.

Another victim’s name that Trofinoff sought was Richard J. Morgan, the head of emergency services at Con Edison, where Trofinoff works as a senior specialist for environment, health and safety.

“It was moving to find their names the first time, you can appreciate what they did as leaders in their lives,” he said. “To be able to explain what happened on 9/11 to those who don’t grasp the significance or were just way too young to take in the impact is important.”

During a recent shift, Trofinoff met a family from Cornwall, England, the same county as 9/11 victim Richard Cyril Rescorla. The family didn’t personally know Rescorla, but had heard of him and was happy to be escorted to his name on the memorial.

“This family knew that Rescorla had foresaw the attack and had led Morgan Stanley to develop evacuation procedures and drilled the employees to be ready,” Trofinoff said. He explained to them that Rescorla had fought in Vietnam in the Ia Drang Valley in the battle depicted in Mel Gibson’s movie “We were Soldiers”.

“They didn’t know that piece of his story and appreciated the insight,” he said.

Trofinoff also values the community that he has entered into as a memorial volunteer. He has enjoyed learning from veteran volunteers Ed Welter and Bruce Pastor. Welter served as team captain for a group of 9/11 Memorial volunteers who took part in the recent Tunnel to Towers 5K Run. Learn more about volunteering at the 9/11 Memorial and the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

By Anthony Guido, 9/11 Memorial Communications Manager

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