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Family Mourns Loss Of Eastport Graduate John Scharf In Terrorist Attacks 10 Years Ago
The East Hampton Press ^ | Sep 5, 2011 | Laura Cooper

Posted on 07/14/2013 7:02:59 PM PDT by robowombat

Family Mourns Loss Of Eastport Graduate John Scharf In Terrorist Attacks 10 Years Ago The East Hampton Press By Laura Cooper Sep 5, 2011 2:52 PM

John Scharf did not usually work in the building where his short life ended.

In fact, September 11, 2001, marked only the second time that the 29-year-old had ever stepped foot inside the glistening World Trade Center.

A resident of Manorville, Mr. Scharf was called to the Twin Towers for the first time the day before the terrorist attacks that took down both skyscrapers when he was contracted by the Ohio-based company Liebert Global Services to fix a computer interface for the Aon Corporation. The Manhattan branch of the company was based on the upper floors of the south tower.

The Eastport High School graduate went to the World Trade Center that day poised to fix the computer problem—a task that Mr. Scharf, an electrical engineer and a former U.S. Marine, could not finish because of a missing part, according to his sister Christine Scharf-Meyer of Manorville.

He returned the next day to complete the job and was working on the 105th floor of the south tower when the second hijacked airliner—United Airlines Flight 175—slammed into the building at 9:03 a.m., between the 78th and 82nd floors. Mr. Scharf was trapped on the upper levels of the tower when it collapsed at 9:59 a.m., less than an hour after impact.

He was working his first civilian job after spending five years in the Marines, during which time he served in the Persian Gulf War and was stationed in Japan. The father of a 6-year-old girl, Mr. Scharf was making plans to get remarried at the time of his death; his fiancée, Debbie Losee, whom he had met upon his return to New York, were to be married in August 2002.

Mr. Scharf grew up in a two-story house on Sandie Lane in Manorville with his three brothers, Joseph, David and Jason, and his younger sister, Christine. Ms. Scharf-Meyer said the pain that her family endured in the days, weeks and months following Mr. Scharf’s death was inexplicable; her father, Gene, and late mother, Marie, were overcome with grief. “You just saw the sadness in their eyes,” Ms. Scharf-Meyer said. “Their hearts broke that day.”

Mrs. Scharf, whom her daughter described as “the rock” of the family, recently died following a long battle with cancer.

“One thing a lot of people remember about my brother is his smile,” Ms. Scharf-Meyer said during a recent interview in the kitchen of the home in which she grew up with John and her other siblings.

The room where Mr. Scharf had been living upon his release from the military has since been converted into a kitchen. Still, some of his artwork from high school can still be found, many covered with dust, above the dining room hutch.

Although he died too young—leaving behind his then 6-year-old daughter, Momo, from his first marriage—Mr. Scharf left his mark in the hearts of his family and friends. One of his creations from high school—a colorful picture that shows mountains of hands, and signed “John Scharf” in one corner—contrasts the many artifacts of the World Trade Center that the family received after his death. Candles, small pieces of steel from the World Trade Center and a small urn containing ash from the Twin Towers all sit atop a cabinet in the family room.

Of all the things her brother left behind, none was more important than his daughter, according to Ms. Scharf-Meyer. She explained that Mr. Scharf married a Japanese woman named Aya when he was stationed overseas. They divorced before he returned to New York and Momo, who was living in Japan with her mother at the time of Mr. Scharf’s death, was everything to him, Ms. Scharf-Meyer said.

“It was great to walk into his bedroom and see 20 to 30 pictures of Momo,” Ms. Scharf-Meyer said, smiling. “He’d take her to places to get her picture taken and he’d buy them all,” Ms. Scharf-Meyer said.

She later added that Momo—who is now 16 and lives in Washington State—will be joining the family when they commemorate the 10th anniversary of the attacks in Manhattan on Sunday. She explained that Momo was her parents’ first grandchild, noting that it was her late mother who called her granddaughter to break the news of her father’s death.

“In my eyes, this was a mass murder,” Ms. Scharf-Meyer said, her voice becoming emotional. “It was random—it’s like being hit by a truck. My brother would still be here if it wasn’t for that man,” she added, referring to Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind behind the terrorist attacks who was slain earlier this year.

Even during his last few minutes of life, Mr. Scharf turned to his tightknit family, calling his father from a stairwell in the south tower in an attempt to stay in contact with them, according to his father.

“I was on the phone with him. He said there was a lot of smoke,” Mr. Scharf said, wiping tears from his eyes. “He said, ‘I’m in the stairwell and there’s a lot of smoke. I’m scared.’

“The last thing he said to me was, ‘I’m scared,’” Mr. Scharf said, tears filling his eyes. Shortly after the exchange, the telephone line went dead.

Even though they knew the odds were against him, Mr. Scharf’s family did not lose hope. Family and friends peppered Manhattan with photos of Mr. Scharf in the days following the attacks—to no avail. Ms. Scharf-Meyer said her family received many calls from people all across the country, including many who just wanted to offer sympathy.

Mr. Scharf’s body was never recovered and, in 2003, his family held a memorial for him, according to Ms. Scharf-Meyer. She said they held the memorial in order to come to terms with the fact that their son and brother would not be returning home.

But a year later—and a week before Ms. Scharf-Meyer was to be married—the family learned that forensic teams working at the former World Trade Center site had matched Mr. Scharf’s DNA to previously unidentified remains.

“I remember they asked me if I would mind having a memorial so close to my wedding,” Ms. Scharf-Meyer said, referring to her family. “I said of course not. That Saturday we had a funeral.”

Her older brother was buried at Calverton National Cemetery in 2004, and during the ceremony the family was presented with a neatly folded American flag that now adorns the fireplace in the family’s home—right next to a photo of Momo and the late Mrs. Scharf. Ms. Scharf-Meyer was married the next day.

Though she misses her brother, Ms. Scharf-Meyer said she feels blessed that, just a month before the attacks, her youngest brother attended a family reunion held at their house in Manorville. Family from all over the country flew in for the gathering, she said, adding that her brother was “the biggest kid there.”

“I just feel that the reunion happened for a reason,” she said. “He was playing with all the nieces and nephews and shooting them with water guns. I feel that, in a way, a force happened to get all these people together.”

For Mr. Scharf’s sister, September 11 will always be the day that she lost a brother and her best friend. Still, she said that watching Momo grow up, if even from a distance at times, makes her feel as though her brother is still around, smiling and laughing alongside his now teenage daughter.

“Momo looks more American than Japanese,” Ms. Scharf-Meyer said. “Every time I look at Momo, I see my brother.”

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: New York
Never forget 9-11
1 posted on 07/14/2013 7:02:59 PM PDT by robowombat
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To: robowombat

God Bless him and his family. While reading these stories breaks my heart, we DO have a duty to remember those so cruelly murdered that day.

2 posted on 07/14/2013 7:21:12 PM PDT by Amberdawn
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