ONCE A MAN, TWICE A HERO: Thousands salute NYPD detective Air Force Special Agent Joseph Lemm, killed by suicide bomber in Afghanistan

Special Agents Joseph Lemm, Louis Bonocasa, Chester McBride, Michael Cinco, Adrianna Vorderbruggen, and Peter Taub were killed by a suicide bomber in a village near Bagram Air Base Afghanistan on Monday, December 21. Two U.S. Air Force Security Forces airmen who were with them were wounded in the attack.

The remains of Lemm, a West Harrison resident and detective in the NYPD, returned from Afghanistan to the 105th Airlift Wing in Newburgh on Monday, December 28. Local first responders honored Lemm’s funeral procession as it passed through Rockland and many Rockland police officers and enlisted men attended Lemm’s funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Wednesday.

Lemm served 15 years as a detective in the NYPD. He had been activated as a member of the New York Air National Guard.

“Detective Joseph Lemm epitomized the selflessness we can only strive for: putting his country and city first,” Police Commissioner Bratton told New York City media. “Tonight, we grieve and we remember this selfless public servant who dedicated his life to protecting others.”

The agents and airmen were conducting a joint patrol as part of an investigation when the suicide bomber drove a motorcycle into them and detonated the explosives.

Heroism seemed second-nature to Lemm. In addition to putting his life on the line as a member of the National Guard and as a NYPD detective, in December 2005 he intervened while off-duty to apprehend three teens fleeing the scene of a stabbing at a CVS pharmacy.

Two other NYPD officers have been killed while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, NYPD brass noted.

Lemm’s prior deployments included missions to Afghanistan from January to June 2013 and to Iraq from June to December 2011. New York Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Louis Bonacasa, a member of the 105th Base Defense Squadron and also from New York, died alongside Lemm on Dec. 21 in the suicide attack.

Bonacasa, age 31, was a resident of Coram, N.Y. He enlisted in the active Air Force in 2002 and transitioned to the New York Air National Guard’s 106th Security Forces Squadron, at F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach, N.Y. in 2008. He joined the 105th Base Defense Squadron in 2010.

Lemm and Bonocasa posthumously were promoted to the rank of special agent within the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Lemm also received a posthumous promotion from the NYPD to detective first-grade. He had received a promotion to third-grade detective in January 2014 and last worked in the Bronx warrant squad.

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