David LaForge, Lad. 20 STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Like so many of his fellow heroes, David LaForge, a 24-year veteran of the Fire Department, was done with his shift when the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. But when Ladder 20 in Manhattan got the call on Sept. 11, this seasoned driver jumped in his beloved fire engine and raced downtown to the Twin Towers. Mr. LaForge was seen last on the 35th floor of Tower 1, helping others get to safety, and remains one of the missing from the attack. For his family, his is a life come full circle from his childhood days of pretend. >From as early as his mother, Ethel LaForge, can remember, her son daydreamed of rescuing people from fire and calamity. “He always played fireman when he was young,” said Mrs. LaForge. “We have pictures of him as a child with his fire helmet, the garden hose, and a toy fire truck.” Mr. LaForge was also a member of his company’s emergency medical team, and was assigned to a decontamination truck in Manhattan. But it was his job as senior chauffeur that he cherished most. “It was one of his dreams,” said Mrs. LaForge. “He stayed with the company because it was his pride and joy to drive the ladder truck.” A lifelong Port Richmond resident, Mr. LaForge graduated from McKee High School and later attended college in upstate New York. His love of the road inspired him to save his money and leave his studies after two semesters. He later purchased a truck, which he used to work for North American Van Lines for a year before becoming a firefighter in 1977. Mr. LaForge frequently drove all across the United States for long periods of time, his mother said. He enjoyed life on the road because he was able to see the country. He was dedicated to his close-knit family. Being single enabled Mr. LaForge to help his uncles, Thomas Syvertsen and Edward Malokie, and his aunts, Alice Malokie and Janet Salzberger. He enjoyed carpentry and yardwork, and was looking forward to retiring, especially because he would have time to renovate his two homes. In addition to a house in Port Richmond, he also bought one several years ago in Island Heights, N.J., a few blocks away from his parents, and a short ride from the sea. Mr. LaForge was an ocean lover, and his older sister, Jane Schwerd, has many memories of him teaching her children, William, Frederick and Meghan, to bodysurf. “He loved to be in the water,” she said. “He loved riding the waves, and he would take the kids out and let them ride in on his back.” She also remembered his longtime love of firefighting, and specifically, of driving and maintaining the truck. “He loved taking care of it,” said Mrs. Schwerd. “He also took a lot of pride in getting to the site of a fire as quickly as he could. It was something he really cherished.” Her brother was shy, she said, and never one to revel in heroic hoopla. “Rescuing people was the most important thing to him. He didn’t care about getting in the paper, or being a hero. The most important thing to him was making sure everyone got out OK,” she said. “He just did what he was supposed to do and did it very well.” She and her brother talked frequently every month. “We were very close, and as we got older, he acted more like a big brother,” said Mrs. Schwerd, who has lived in Saratoga, N.Y., for 30 years. “He came to my rescue numerous times, and not just emotionally. He’s very handy, and would come up and do a lot of work on my home.” In addition to his mother, Ethel, and his sister, Jane, Mr. LaForge is also survived by his father, James, and his cousin, Dr. Robert Malokie.