Michael D. D'Auria: Success in the Kitchen

Michael D. D'Auria was considered a fabulous chef by other noteworthy cooks among the firefighters of Engine Company 40 and Ladder Company 35. "One of the guys told us that whenever they saw Michael's name on the board, they knew they were going to eat good that night," said his mother, Nancy Marra. She remembers fielding an urgent phone message for him from the firehouse one night, the caller in search of a recipe for one of his sauces.

Firefighter D'Auria, 25, was one of nine firefighters on his mother's side of the family, and had trained as a chef. He was known, too, for his tattoos, which included St. Michael the archangel, St. Anthony and the Serenity Prayer surrounded by cherubs.

Mrs. Marra recalls a long conversation her son had with his sister, Christina Rinaldi, in April 2001. "He told her that when he dies, it's going to be in a big way, and it's going to change the world. Michael had become very spiritual in the last two years, and he read a lot of books. I really down deep feel he just had a feeling about it."

After earning 100 percent on the Fire Department's written and physical tests, Mr. D'Auria had been on the job nine weeks. The World Trade Center was his second fire.