Father of 8 'Immersed Himself in Everything

December 26, 2001

Firefighter Kevin Smith sounded excited to be deployed to the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, his wife, Jerri, said.

"He almost sounded like Superman snapping at his cape," she said.

A member of Hazardous Materials Co. 1 in Manhattan, Jerri Smith said, her husband was trained in combatting terrorism. "He was very cutting-edge in the fire department," she said, adding that her husband was a charter member of the hazardous materials department from its inception in 1984.

Kevin Smith, 47, of Mastic, a father of eight, is presumed dead in the terrorist attacks. He had phoned his wife at 8:50 that morning while en route to the World Trade Center.

"Anytime there was any large incident in the city, he would call me before I heard about it so I wouldn't worry," she said. "He had called to say a plane had hit the World Trade Center and that he was heading over there."

Smith was born in Great Neck in 1954, and graduated from Island Trees High School in Levittown in 1971. He enlisted in the Marine Corps after he graduated and spent two years stationed in the Mediterranean, his wife said.

A golfer, boater, camper and volunteer, Smith immersed himself in everything he could, without abandoning some of his military values, his wife said.

"He was very kind-of-military about everything," she said. "He took everything seriously and put 100 percent in everything he did."

Smith and his family spent many weekends volunteering with the East Farmingdale Fire Department, Mastic Fire Department and Mastic Ambulance Company, his wife said.

"We did it all together," she said. "The kids were junior firefighters and were a part of the ambulance company. It was a family affair."

Jerri Smith said her husband had a profound influence on their children - Brian, 24; Nicole Scochemaro, 23; Thomas, 22; triplets Christopher, Jennifer and Josephine, 21; Vincent, 20, and Anthony, 19.

"Vincent is in the Navy, Thomas is a firefighter in Michigan, Brian is now an EMT in the New York Fire Department and Christopher is in the Marines," she said. "I think he always used the 'teach by example' approach. They would just watch him."

Civic duty is her husband's legacy, she said. "The thing that helps me get through this is that I know he did all he could do. He had a lot of training and loved what he did. This is what we do, and if someone needs us, we have a civic responsibility. You work for your community, and your community will work for you. And we had a lot of fun."

-- Nick Iyer (Newsday)