Fallen heroes added to Living Flame Memorial

Police Officers Douglas Bamberger and Raymond Diaz Jr., and Firefighter Gabriel G. Lee were honored for their sacrifices.

A special salute: Police Officers Douglas Bamberger and Raymond Diaz Jr. and Firefighter Gabriel G. Lee were added to the Living Flame Memorial during the annual remembrance service in Franklin Square Park on May 3. PHOTO: OFFICE OF CITY REPRESENTATIVE

City officials led by Mayor Jim Kenney paid tribute to three additions to the Living Flame Memorial, all with Northeast Philadelphia connections, during the annual remembrance service in Franklin Square Park on May 3.

Police Officers Douglas Bamberger and Raymond Diaz Jr., as well as Firefighter Gabriel G. Lee, all perished while carrying out official duties since the 2016 Living Flame ceremony. As a result, each of their names were inscribed on plaques surrounding the circular, three-pronged open-air memorial.

Kenney, Police Commissioner Richard Ross and Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel paid tribute to all 291 firefighters and 272 police officers who have died in the line of duty in the city’s recorded history. Dozens of active and retired police and firefighters, along with the families of the fallen, laid white and red carnations on the memorial following the city leaders’ comments.

“On this solemn occasion of reflection and remembrance, we honor our fallen officers and firefighters who selflessly gave their lives while serving and protecting the citizens of Philadelphia,” Kenney said. “As the son of a former city firefighter, I can tell you that I will never forget their sacrifices. We offer our deepest sympathy to the families who have lost their loved ones — a wife, husband, son, daughter, father or mother — in the line of duty. The city of Philadelphia is forever in their debt.”

Lee, a Germantown resident and Northeast High graduate, died of unspecified causes last July after responding to several emergency calls during a late-night shift at the firehouse. He was 42. The U.S. Army veteran of Operation Desert Storm served nearly two decades in the fire department and was assigned to Ladder 12 in North Philly at the time of his death.

Previously, Lee was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the Local 22 firefighters union, as well as a Merit Award and four unit citations from the fire department. He was an accomplished amateur boxer and was known in the community as a religious and generous man. He was a husband and father of three.

Bamberger, 42, died last October after suffering an on-duty heart attack at the Criminal Justice Center. A Mayfair resident and North Catholic graduate, he was a 16-year veteran of the police force and had worked on patrol in South and North Philly before joining the court liaison unit in 2014. He was a recipient of two department commendations. He was a husband and father of two.

Diaz, 47, resided in Holmesburg and served his entire 20-year career in the 24th district, serving Port Richmond, Harrowgate and Kensington. He died last September from medical complications stemming from an on-duty auto accident. The Massachusetts native was a husband and father of six. ••

William Kenny can be reached at 215–354–3031 or wkenny@bsmphilly.com. Follow the Times on Twitter @NETimesOfficial.