555 Fitness Hero WOD
- For Time
- 50 Power Snatches (75/45 lb)
- 50 Burpees
- 50 Overhead Squats (75/45 lb)
- 50 Sit-Ups
- 50 Thrusters (75/45 lb)
The last person to see Firefighter John A. Schardt alive said he was smiling as he made his way to Tower 2 of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. The chauffeur who drove the truck for Engine Co. 201, Brooklyn, told Mr. Schardt's wife, Jeanette, that he seemed happy to be doing his job. "Was he scared?" she remembers asking. "No, he wasn't. He was thrilled," was the response.
Dedication to his firehouse was fundamental to his happiness, Mrs. Schardt said. "It wasn't a job for him. It was part of John, and I would never take that away from him," she said.
"In my heart, I know he would have gone (to the World Trade Center) even if he knew this was the outcome," said Mr. Schardt's mother, Margaret Schardt. Born in Grant City, he grew up in Annadale and Prince's Bay. He settled in Annadale with his wife in 1996.
He had an early aptitude for work. He delivered newspapers as a boy and was always ready to help his father around the house. He was also a natural leader, getting other kids together to play baseball or football. His zeal for organizing games carried over into his adult life.
"He would always joke about having enough children to form a baseball team," said his mother. The father of two -- Robert (Robbie), 3, and Christopher, 1 -- Mr. Schardt didn't know he had a baby on the way.
"I found out the day after this happened that we're expecting another one," said his wife. "It's a gift. It's the last thing that he could have given me that's going to last me for the rest of my life."
A graduate of Moore Catholic High School, Mr. Schardt attended the College of Staten Island for two years in the late 1980s and took the firefighters' exam in 1987. He did concrete work on various construction jobs until 1990, when he got a position as a chemical operator with Merck pharmaceutical company, Rahway, N.J. He met his wife, the former Jeanette DeVito, in 1990, and they married in 1993. In 1994, Mr. Schardt graduated from the Fire Academy and was assigned to Engine 201, where he spent his entire career.
"He really loved the guys he worked with at Engine 201," said his wife. Mr. Schardt also worked as an installer with Quinn's Overhead Garage Doors in Manalapan, N.J. -- another job he enjoyed. "He was a real worker. To him, working was the equivalent of having a hobby," his wife said.
Mr. Schardt was an avid sports fan and enjoyed weightlifting, carpentry, and fishing when he had time. His family had a home in Montauk, L.I., and he and his wife and children spent many summer weekends there, on the beach or fishing. He was a parishioner of Holy Child R.C. Church, Eltingville.
Mr. Schardt was seriously injured in a November 1999 fire in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, suffering third-degree burns on both legs. He spent a month in the burn unit at Staten Island University Hospital and needed five more months at home to recuperate. The experience did not temper his enthusiasm for the job. "He couldn't wait to get back to work," said his wife.
But his love for his work did not take away from his devotion to others, even at the end of a long day. "After work, his eyes would be bloodshot and he looked like he was ready for the couch, but he always made time for his kids," said his wife.
His generosity even extended to his in-laws. After his father-in-law died in 1996, Mr. Schardt borrowed his wife's key to her mother's house, did a small repair and left a bottle of wine and a bouquet of flowers on the kitchen table for his mother-in-law.
"That was the kind of guy he was," said his wife. "He didn't even tell me what he was doing. He just asked me for the key." "He had a very contagious smile," said his mother, "and we'll miss him until we meet again."