Mourners from across the country are paying their final respects to a U.S. Marine and decorated FDNY firefighter killed in a bombing in Afghanistan earlier this month.
The flag-draped casket of Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Christopher Slutman left a Bronx funeral home atop a fire engine caisson Friday morning for St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue.
Fellow firefighters and mourners lined Fifth Avenue under a gray and rainy sky to pay their final respects to Slutman during a solemn procession.
The 43-year-old father of three young daughters died on April 8 near Bagram Airfield U.S military base. Two other members of Slutman's Massachusetts-based Marine Reserve unit also were killed.
A 15-year FDNY veteran, Slutman was with Ladder 27 in the Bronx. He got a medal for bravery after rescuing a woman from a burning apartment.
A native of Newark, Delaware, Slutman also had been a firefighter in Maryland.
During the solemn service, various speakers addressed the mourners to honor Slutman, including Marine Sgt. Major Chris Armstrong who described Slutman as a "leader, who was respected and admired."
"When I received the terrible news, my heart broke as I thought of Chris' family and unit," Armstrong said, while fighting back tears, urging those in attendance to keep his memory alive, calling him a "hero."
After sharing anecdotes involving the humerous side of Slutman, FDNY member Chris Williamson, who previously served as Slutman's captain in Ladder 17 for four years, said members of the department were heartbroken upon hearing the tragic news.
"Today our city mourns a hero," Mayor Bill de Blasio said, adding Slutman represented "the best in us."
De Blasio told those in attendance, that all though he was "taken too soon," Slutman's "fearless spirit reached so far, touched so many. Made this world inmeasurably better."
Slutman's best friend for over 30 years described as "embodied everything great about this great nation."
Slutman, who worked with Ladders 27 and 17 in the Bronx, is survived by his wife and three young daughters.
A second New Yorker, 25 year-old Robert Hendriks of Locust Valley also died in the attack. He was laid to rest in Caveltorn, Long Island, earlier this week. Benjamin Hines, 31, of York, Pennsylvania, was the third victim, the Department of Defense said.