Forest Hills police officer dies while serving overseas

By Alex Christodoulides and Katy Gagnon

A beloved Forest Hills police officer died while serving in the Army National Guard in Afghanistan July 4, government officials said.

Army National Guard 1st Lt. Daniel Farkas, 42, a 20-year NYPD veteran who rose to the rank of lieutenant at the 112th Precinct, died last Friday of injuries suffered from a non-hostile incident at Camp Phoenix in Kabul, Afghanistan, the U.S. Defense Department said.

The incident was under investigation.

“All members of the New York National Guard regret the death of this officer,” said Maj. Gen. Joseph Taluto, the adjutant general and commander of the New York National Guard. “The National Guard will do everything it can to aid Lt. Farkas' family in their hour of need.”

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly commended Farkas for his service. “He served his city and his nation in the most honorable ways possible, as a police officer and as a soldier,” Kelly said.

Gov. David Paterson directed flags on state buildings to be flown at half-staff July 11 in honor of Farkas.

Farkas, of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, joined the NYPD in July 1988 and was one week shy of his 20th anniversary in that uniform at the time of his death.

He was credited with many achievements during his time with the NYPD and National Guard.

He was recognized for helping arrest a serial arsonist in Middle Village last year. He was also awarded the New York State Defense of Liberty Medal for his service in Manhattan following the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Farkas joined the Army National Guard in August 1992 and was assigned to the headquarters of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Syracuse. Prior to deploying to Afghanistan, he was assigned to Battery B, 1st Battalion 258th Field Artillery, in the Bronx.

The National Guard said Farkas' awards include the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, and National Defense Service Medal.

Farkas has been posthumously awarded the Army Commendation Medal and New York State Medal for Merit.

He is survived by his mother.

Farkas is the third guardsman with a connection to Queens to die in Afghanistan in the last three weeks.

Sgt. Andrew Seabrooks of South Ozone Park was killed June 21 when his humvee was struck by an improvised explosive device and small arms fire north of Kandahar. On June 26, Sgt. 1st Class Joseph A. McKay, 51, of Cambria Heights, was killed near Forward Operating Base Shank in Logar Province, Afghanistan.

More than 6,500 guardsmen from the New York National Guard have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001. In that time, 29 were killed in Iraq and six died in Afghanistan, including Farkas.