The wife of the veteran firefighter, killed in a Brooklyn fire last Saturday, said in a eulogy, "How am I supposed to breathe without you? Ten years with you just wasn't enough...you gave me the best part of you, our girls... I will never let you go...you were taken too early from a family that loved you and needed you... I will be counting the time until I am in your arms again."
The funeral was held at St. Clare's R.C. Church in Staten Island, and family, friends, elected officials and thousands of firefighters were there to honor Lt. Gordon "Matt" Ambelas, who also left behind a five-year-old daughter and an eight-year-old daughter. A friend read the words of Nanette Russo Ambelas, "Gabby made the most sense of it. Her response was, 'Mommy, I will take care of you. Daddy was my hero.'"
Mayor de Blasio spoke at the funeral, noting Ambelas' Jets fandom as well as his friendship and bravery. From his remarks:
[H]is bravery was on its fullest display last Saturday in Williamsburg. As smoke and flames poured out of the 19th floor from a two-alarm fire, Matt’s only thoughts were for the safety of others. He plunged into the fire to search for life. He led from the front, as great leaders do, as he always did - and then, very tragically, made the ultimate sacrifice at the age of only 40.
This is a harsh reminder of the dangers the men and women of the FDNY face every single day. He is the second firefighter to fall in the last two years, the 1,144th firefighter to make the ultimate sacrifice since the FDNY was founded in 1865.
It is a truism but we have to always remember it - as others run from flames and danger, firefighters rush toward the danger knowing full well what may await them. It’s a very special sort of person, a noble sort of person, who does this work - someone like Matt.
Our city is inspired by his courage and deeply saddened by his loss. And we can say with assurance he lived his life as an exemplary New Yorker, as an exemplary human, as someone we can only hope to be as good as.
The FDNY Foundation is accepting donations for Ambelas' children.