Joseph Lemm, a Nebraska country boy turned NYPD detective and U.S. soldier, had Superman's good looks and superhero bravery, mourners were told Wednesday at the married father of two's Manhattan funeral, more than a week after he was killed in Afghanistan.
The Superman nickname, "suggested people wanted to be like him as though someone walked among us who was good," Mayor de Blasio said in his eulogy before hundreds of uniformed military service members, police officers and relatives at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
As Lemm's flag-draped coffin was carried out of a hearse, his 4-year-old son, Ryan, sitting on the shoulders of an NYPD officer and wearing his hat, saluted his father's casket as it entered the church.
His wife, Christine, stood stoically as his 17-year-old daughter, Brooke, read from Corinthians.
The 45-year-old Lemm, a 15-year NYPD veteran who lived in Westchester County, was one of six soldiers killed in Afghanistan last Monday when their patrol was attacked by a suicide bomber outside Bagram Air Base. He was a technical sergeant in the Air Guard's 105th Base Security Squadron who served two tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq.
A tearful police Commissioner Bill Bratton posthumously promoted Lemm to detective first-grade.
"Three times, this war took him thousands of miles away from his family, and the city and country he so dearly loved," he said in a eulogy. "And now it has taken him farther than miles. It has taken him to a new post in eternity."
Thousands of civilians, military personnel and police officers from departments across the state lined the streets outside the storied church. As mourners exited the cathedral, they sang "America the Beautiful," and NYPD pipes and drums led the hearse away.
In a homily, Lemm's local priest, the Rev. Christopher Monturo, remembered his parishioner as a jokester and loving person who enjoyed fishing, playing basketball and his Nebraska Cornhuskers.
"Joe never missed a police funeral no matter where it was," he said. "It's fitting there are so many here today."