Funeral for NYPD Detective Joseph Lemm - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Funeral for NYPD Detective Joseph Lemm

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Hundreds of NYPD officers pay their respects for Detective and Air National Guard Sergeant Joseph Lemm, killed in Afghanistan. Lemm's son joins his father's colleagues in a final salute. 

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(KWWL) When asked about Joseph Lemm, the Bernard man killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan on Monday, Loras Link had nothing but fond memories.

"He had the size of a grizzly bear, the heart of a teddy bear. He had this smile that would light up the room when he would walk in. He was just about the nicest guy you could ever meet. If you met him once, you had a friend forever," Link said.

Lemm is Link's wife's cousin, but has been a part of Link's life for nearly 30 years.

"He was just a people person that just wanted to be there to help people out all the time."

Link said they only got to see Lemm every couple of years, or so, but he cherished every interaction he had with the man who has spent the last 15 years as a New York City Police Officer.

"When you did see him, though, when he came up to you, he'd ask, how are you doing, and he wouldn't take, I'm doing fine for an answer. It was, he wanted to know what you were doing, how your kids were, how your job was," he said.

A cherished memory of the entire Link family came when Lemm requested a visit to the Link farm, near Rickardsville in Dubuque County.

"He came here, it's probably 10 years ago at least, to watch me milk cows one night. And if I was riding in his squad car, I'd probably be sitting there going, oh wow, this is so cool. That's exactly what he was doing, standing in my barn. I was just milking cows and he was like, this is so awesome. And he was just so bubbly and excited about life," he said.

Link's daughter Sarah was only five or so at the time, but she also remembers that trip fondly.

"He came out here cause he wanted to see the farm, and that was really cool, because I don't think he had a big experience of a farm. So, showing him how the cows are milked and the different areas of the farm. He was just very cool to talk to, very down to earth."

Lemm's body was returned to the United States today officially as part of a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base.

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NEW YORK (AP) -- A New York City detective who was killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan was mourned Tuesday as a selfless public servant and a devoted family man, while a second victim was identified as a Long Island man.

Detective Joseph Lemm was one of six American service members killed Monday when an attacker rammed an explosives-laden motorcycle into their patrol.

Lemm grew up in Dubuque County, according to his aunt, Janet Graff of Asbury.  She said he grew up in Bernard before moving out of state.

Authorities identified the other Air National Guard victim from New York state as Staff Sgt. Louis Michael Bonacasa, of Coram, Long Island.

Both were assigned to the 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh.

Family members say Bonacasa leaves behind a wife and 5-year-old daughter.

His brother, Vincent Bonacasa, called him a "humble man who took pride in what he did."

Authorities said Lemm and Bonacasa are the 34th and 35th members of the New York National Guard to die in combat since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. They are the second and third members of the New York Air National Guard to die in combat.

Lemm, a 15-year veteran of the New York Police Department, was on his third tour of duty in the Middle East with the Air National Guard.

Police Commissioner William Bratton said Lemm "epitomized the selflessness we can only strive for: putting his country and city first."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed that flags on state government buildings be flown at half-staff on Wednesday in Lemm's honor.

"On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends, fellow officers and service members," Cuomo said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said flags in the city would be at half-staff from Tuesday through Friday.

Lemm, 45, lived in suburban West Harrison with his wife, Christine, and two children, a teenage daughter and a young son.

According to a 2013 News 12 Westchester report, Lemm surprised his family after a 10-month tour of duty by showing up unannounced to hear his daughter perform in a singing contest.

Bratton said Lemm was promoted to detective in January 2014 and worked in the Bronx warrant squad.

Lemm received five commendations from the department over the course of his career.

His commanding officer, Capt. William Kivlehan, called Lemm "a heck of a cop."

"He got a lot of violent guys off the street," Kivlehan said in a conference call with reporters. "He got a lot of guns off the street."

KWWL"s Brad Hanson contributed to this original AP report.

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