Police Officer Robert Bernard Helmke

Police Officer Robert Bernard Helmke

New York City Police Department, New York

End of Watch Saturday, July 28, 2007

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Robert Bernard Helmke

Police Officer Robert Helmke died of cancer he contracted after inhaling toxic chemicals and materials while working hundreds of hours at Ground Zero, the site of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Officer Helmke was a U.S Air Force veteran serving 7 years at Offutt Air Force Base in the 544 Strategic Intelligence Wing.

He served with the New York City Police Department for 12 years and with the U.S. Immigration Service at JFK Airport for 5 years. He was assigned to the Medical Division and is survived by his wife, son, and daughter.

The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks

On the morning of September 11th, 2001, seventy-two officers from a total of eight local, state, and federal agencies were killed when terrorist hijackers working for the al Qaeda terrorist network, headed by Osama bin Laden, crashed four hijacked planes into the World Trade Center towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

After the impact of the first plane into the World Trade Center's North Tower, putting the safety of others before their own, law enforcement officers along with fire and EMS personnel, rushed to the burning Twin Towers of the World Trade Center to aid the victims and lead them to safety. Due to their quick actions, it is estimated that over 25,000 people were saved.

As the evacuation continued, the South Tower unexpectedly collapsed as a result of the intense fire caused by the impact. The North Tower collapsed a short time later. Seventy-two law enforcement officers, 343 members of the New York City Fire Department, and over 2,800 civilians were killed at the World Trade Center site on 9/11.

A third hijacked plane crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania when the passengers attempted to re-take control of the plane. One law enforcement officer, who was a passenger on the plane, was killed in that crash.

The fourth hijacked plane was crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, killing almost 200 military and civilian personnel. No law enforcement officers were killed at the Pentagon on 9/11.

The terrorist attacks resulted in the declaration of war against the Taliban regime, the illegal rulers of Afghanistan, and the al Qaeda terrorist network which also was based in Afghanistan.

On September 9th, 2005, all of the public safety officers killed on September 11th, 2001, were posthumously awarded the 9/11 Heroes Medal of Valor by President George W. Bush.

The contamination in the air at the World Trade Center site caused many rescue personnel to become extremely ill and eventually led to the death of several rescue workers.

On May 1st, 2011, members of the United States military conducted a raid on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and killed Osama bin Laden.

Please click here to visit the memorials of all of the law enforcement officers who have died as a result of the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks.


  • Age 43
  • Tour 17 years
  • Badge 11352
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause 9/11 related illness
  • Incident Date Tuesday, September 11, 2001
  • Weapon Aircraft; Passenger jet
  • Offender 19 suicide attackers

9/11, terrorism

Most Recent Reflection

View all 23 Reflections

I just finished my fourth round of chemo out of six rounds. To add onto my last reflection, I was diagnosed in June with stage 3s bulky classic hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of blood cancer; cancer of the lymph nodes/immune system. Throughout this journey, it has been hard knowing that I now have the same thing that killed my dad(not the same type, just cancer in general). Although he lost his fight, I will beat this for him. I never thought I would have to endure something like this at 17 years old. I miss my dad every day and I hope I’m able to say I’m cancer-free one day soon. I have been fundraising for blood cancer research and have since raised about $2.3k, which is a positive that has also kept me going.

Amelia Helmke

October 24, 2021

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