Friends, family and colleagues gathered together on Friday to remember the late Robert Ehmer at Chapey and Sons Funeral Home in East Islip.
A retired NYPD police officer and a resident of East Meadow, Ehmer was one of the first responders after the attacks on Sept. 11. Ehmer worked tirelessly day in and day out to ensure that other rescue workers were able to aid in the search and recovery effort at Ground Zero.
"After 9/11 he was doing 12-hour shifts for four months doing security, traffic control and guarding the site. He was there on the first day working for EMS," said Annette Ehmer, Robert Ehmer's sister. "They all got called in and Robert was there when the second tower fell, so he had to run away and then run back in to help everybody. He just wanted to help everyone, that was his main goal."
Ehmer was part of the recent Ground Zero settlement and was scheduled to receive anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000. He had planned to use that money to pay for the treatments that Medicaid would not cover.
"He was kind of forced to take the settlement because he new he was dying," Annette Ehmer said. "He just wanted to get what he could to help out with his treatment since insurance didn't pay for everything. He still hasn't gotten the check yet."
After retiring from the NYPD in 2005, Ehmer continued to work as a EMS for St. John's Hospital in Queens, a position he held for 15 years prior. Always helping anyone in need, Robert dedicated his life to serving and assisting others.
"When he got sick in 2007 he had to stop everything. That's when they found the cancer and he was really upset that he had to stop working," explained his sister. "For him not to work, he didn't know what to do with himself."
At the memorial service, members of local fire, rescue and police departments showed their solidarity, along with NYPD officers and fellow Harley bikers who were there to properly honor their late comrade.
"Bobby, he was just a kind man who loved everybody- his family, friends and especially his sister. A dear friend of mine, I will miss him," said Debbie Grippe, who was a close friend of Ehmer's.
Frank Benia, of the Patriot Guard Riders, explained how they were there to give Robert a proper tribute. The Patriot Guard Riders stood in front of the funeral home with American flags to show their support for all of the hard work Ehmer had done during 9/11 and throughout his career.
"This is a day in the midst of a weekend that is dedicated to family, friends and people coming together. Even with a tragedy, such as the one that brings us here today, it is still all about family," stated Monsignor Jim Vallone, who presided over the memorial. "It is good times that makes everyone a family, but also the bad ones."
With this in mind, everyone proceeded outside to hear a trumpet and bagpipe resonate to remember Ehmer one more time. NYPD officers saluted as the final motorcycle drove away.
Annette Ehmer continued to explain her future wishes to remember her brother and to help other rescue workers who were on the scene during 9/11.
"With the whole Zadorga bill, he just hoped that it would get passed," she said. "So many guys are sick. They getting sick now, are sick or will be sick in the future. This way they at least get health care because this will be going on for a long time."