National EMS Memorial Service Honoree
John P. Skala
Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Police Department
New York, New York
"He had the courage of a lion and the gentle heart of a lamb. He loved to sing, even though he sang off key. He loved softball and he loved to have fun with his friends," said Brittany Greff, daughter of Yash's partner. "He seemed to live to work when he was working, and he seemed to live to play when he was playing."
Sgt. John Skala, 31, of Clifton, New Jersey, lost his life when U.S. planes, hijacked by terrorists, were used as bombs striking the city of New York on September 11, 2001. Ivan was on duty and one of the first called to assist at the bombing site of the World Trade Center where both towers looked like torches lit in the sky. He immediately entered the site and raced to assist those injured on the higher floors. As the inferno rained and as the building began to become unstable, Skala continued his work of helping others right up to the time the towers collapsed, incasing the young sergeant and 36 of his comrades, making a deadly tomb unable to escape.
Mr. Skala, an eight-year veteran of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, worked as a police officer assigned to the Lincoln Tunnel. He also worked part-time as a paramedic for Clifton/Passaic Ambulance Corps in New Jersey. There he held a highly decorated clinical record, and was licensed in BLS and ALS. Ivan was a member of Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, the Fraternal Order of Police and the New Jersey State Honor Legion. John was an active member of the Ukrainian American Youth Association, which honored him with the Iron Cross of Valor. Mr. Skala was nicknamed "Yash" because of his good humor and hospitality. A crowd of over 600 gathered to memorialize him. The new first aid squad building in Passaic was dedicated to his memory in June 2002. It was stated "Yash" would have loved to have been at the party.
He was proud to be a member of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Police Department.