Firefighter John Schardt, 34, had been injured twice during his 7 1/2 years with the New York City Fire Department. The last injury put him out of action for five months.

But on Sept. 11, he was fit and "a great firefighter," according to Capt. Luke Lynch of Brooklyn's Battalion No. 40. Schardt was one of four men from the battalion's Engine Co. 201 who entered the World Trade Center's south tower to search for survivors, shortly before the tower crumbled.

His wife, Jeanette, was watching the disaster on TV in their Staten Island home when her husband called and said, "I'm going in."

"John always wanted to help people," Jeanette Schardt said. "He liked to coach children's sports and he said he wanted to raise a baseball team." The couple have two sons, Robert, 3, and Christopher, 15 months.

Schardt was born to Robert and Margaret Schardt in Staten Island. He was graduated from Moore Catholic High School in 1985, attended Staten Island University and worked at several jobs while waiting to be called to the fire department. "It was what he wanted," Jeanette Schardt said.