The Hudson Valley is mourning the loss of a 45-year-old police officer from West Harrison who was among six U.S. soldiers killed by a suicide bomber on Monday in Afghanistan.
Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Joseph Lemm, a 15-year detective with the New York Police Department, died in the fiery blast, officials said . He was a member of the 105th Security Forces Squadron, attached to the 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino ordered that American flags be set at half-staff at all county buildings.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New Castle ordered flags be lowered to half-staff at all state facilities on Wednesday, also in honor of Lemm.
Lemm's joint NATO-Afghan patrol was moving near Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan when an enemy attacker targeted the troops' convoy.
Lemm, a native of Nebraska, is survived by his wife, Christine; a teenage stepdaughter, Brooke; and a son, Ryan.
New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said, "Detective Joseph Lemm epitomized the selflessness we can only strive for: putting his country and city first."
Lemm had 427 NYPD arrests and was credited with hundreds more working with other police officers in the Bronx. He earned four commendations for exceptional police duty and a fifth for meritorious police duty.
Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont visited Lemm's family on Tuesday. Numerous NYPD officers and Air National Guard members are comforting them at their home in West Harrison, according to multiple reports.
“He was a classy guy,” Belmont told the New York Daily News, saying the family “just wants to be left alone to mourn.”
On July 4, Lemm took his 21-foot boat out on the Sound Shore to watch local fireworks. Between overseas tours, he enjoyed sports and spent time playing football with Ryan.
Astorino said, “The term hero gets tossed around so easily nowadays that it’s almost lost its meaning. But in Joseph Lemm we see the genuine article. He was a true-grit all-American hero who fought for his country during three tours of duty, served his community as a police officer, and was a loving husband and father."
"Westchester is on bended knee in sadness over the death of one of our own and the grief that it brings the Lemm family," Astorino added. "No words can ease their pain right now but the example of Joseph’s selfless and courageous life will serve as a powerful source of comfort and strength for them, as it does for us all."
Gov. Cuomo said Tech. Sgt. Lemm "served this nation with the selflessness and bravery that embodies the U.S. Armed forces and the NYPD. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends, fellow officers and service members."
U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey of Harrison and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand both said they were very saddened by Lemm's tragic death.
"His bravery will never be forgotten," Gillibrand said.
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