August 25, 2002 -- After the World Trade Center towers collapsed on Sept. 11, FDNY captain John Jonas led five of his fellow Ladder 6 firefighters and an elderly woman to safety from under the rubble in a display of will power and heroics those rescued will never forget.

Jonas kept his crew's morale high, encouraged them to dig harder and, after 41/2 hours under mounds of debris, he led them to safety, said firefighter Bill Butler, who was among those saved by Jonas' leadership.

Butler has now nominated Jonas for the Post's Leadership Liberty Medal.

Ladder 6 had reached the 27th floor of the north tower the morning of the terrorist attack when Jonas lost radio contact and made a gut decision to evacuate, Butler recalls.

On their way down, the six firefighters found 60-year-old Josephine Harris, a Port Authority worker, on the 20th floor. Harris was hurt, so Jonas and his crew carried her.

They were on the fourth floor when the building collapsed.

Trapped in a stairwell, Jonas took control. With explosions and fire all around them, the crew went into a "survival mode," Jonas recalled.

With the help of Ladder 14, Harris was hoisted to safety on a stretcher and Jonas' crew climbed out after her. On Sept. 16, Jonas was promoted to 2nd Battalion Chief and transferred out of the Ladder 6 garage.