On either side of the entrance to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland, is a plaque. On the left side, the inscription explains that the memorial is “a tribute to the current and future firefighters who carry on the noble tradition of unselfish service to their communities.” On the right side the plaque says that it is dedicated to the “memory of the Members of the Fire Service who have made the ultimate sacrifice and responded to their last alarm.”
This week the flags at the Memorial were lowered to half-staff, as the FDNY lost one such man.
Lt. Gordon Matthew Ambelas passed away late Saturday night after suffering injuries while trying to rescue survivors at a fire in Brooklyn.
In early May, Lt. Ambelas led a team rescue of a seven-year-old Jewish child in Williamsburg, whose head had gotten stuck in a metal roll-up gate. Last month, Ambelas and his team were presented with a plaque of their own in recognition of that rescue.
In accepting the award together with his team he showed exactly why he was someone who indeed “carr[ied] on the noble tradition of unselfish service to their communities” when he deflected the praise, saying that the rescue showed “FDNY members are always ready to help others.”
Ambelas was described in The New York Times as “a man who made a career of rescuing people.” His friend and fellow firefighter Eric Bischoff said that “Matt, true to who he is, led these men from the front, with bravery. He was unwavering in his efforts to find and save lives. He died a hero. Thathow he lived. And we will never forget him.”
The same is true for the community he served.
Lt. Gordon Matthew “Matt” Ambelas will not be forgotten. The people he saved and the people he served will be a remembrance for him for as long as they live.