Almost a year after his passing, braving a blaze on a 19th floor apartment in the Taylor-Wythe Housing Complex, a large crowd of firefighters, families, friends and the Williamsburg Community, assembled at an FDNY ceremony for the unveiling of a plaque in memory of Lieutenant Mat Ambelas at the Hooper Street station, home of Engine 211/Ladder 119, from where he left for his final life-saving mission.
The event was addressed by FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro, Chief of Department James Leonard and other department officials. The Lieutenant’s wife and two daughters accepted special plaques in memory of their beloved father and husband. Commissioner Nigro thanked Engine 211/Ladder 119, where the Lieutenant served, and the South Beach station, where the Ambelas family lives, for their strong support for the family and their work to commemorate the legacy of Lt. Ambelas and his selfless service.
The Commissioner spoke of the strong impression that Lt. Ambelas left on the Williamsburg Community, and pointed out the presence of Rabbi David Niederman, President of the UJO of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn, and other community members.
On May 8th, less than two months before his final selfless act, Lt. Ambelas headed a team of firefighters that rescued 7-year old Mendy Gottlieb, who was stuck and suspended mid-air in a roll-up gate. The firefighters’ quick action saved his life. That July, the Lieutenant accepted an award from Commissioner Nigro on behalf of his battalion for their successful rescue, at a ceremony arranged by the UJO in front of the roll-up gate.
Ten days later, Williamsburg was saddened to learn that the Lieutenant lost his life answering another call to rescue others. The Williamsburg community, and especially the Gottlieb family and the UJO, mourned with the family and participated in the funeral and other occasions honoring the Lieutenant and to comfort the family. At the unveiling of the plaque, Commissioner Nigro and the Chief of Department spoke of the everlasting memory of the lieutenant, including his rescue of Mendy Gottlieb, and expressed their support to his family.
Once again, Rabbi Niederman and Abraham Gottlieb – Mendy’s father – were on hand to express their gratitude to the family and the department for the Lieutenant’s service assuring that the Lieutenant’s memory is remembered and endeared among the Williamsburg community.