Rachel Johnson's father called her the morning of his death with one simple message: love.
"He just told me that he loved me and that he would see me later," Johnson said.
But later that day, Oct. 20, 1975, Johnson's father, Artimus, a Philadelphia narcotics officer, was shot and killed while arresting a suspect for drug possession at 13th and Pike streets in North Philadelphia.
"He was the light of my life and I was the light of his," Rachel Johnson said Wednesday at a plaque dedication memorializing the ultimate sacrifice her father made on October 20, 1975.
"He was a good cop, good family man," said Chief Inspector James Tiano, who worked with Johnson in the department's elite Highway Patrol Unit in the 1960s, and who now is a coordinator of the Hero Plaque Program.
Johnson, a seven-year veteran, was only 32 years old when he was killed.
Last week, Aloysius Welsh - a Philadelphia firefighter who was killed fighting a deli fire in Northeast Philadelphia on May 16, 1976 - also was honored with a hero plaque.
"It's definitely tough," his son Gregory Welsh, who was only 9 when his dad was killed, said on May 20 at a plaque-dedication ceremony honoring his father.
Three other firefighters, Richard Iannacone, Bernard McSloy, and David Stewart, died in the same fire.
"He was an amazing man, an incredible family man, a great father," said Welsh, a Philadelphia police officer.
Welsh, Iannacone, McSloy, and Stewart were called to the four alarm fire at the Barson's Delicatessen, at Bustleton and Castor avenues in Northeast Philadelphia that May afternoon.
The roof collapsed and all four men were killed.
Welsh was 49 at the time of his death; Iannacone was 26, McSloy, 32, and Stewart, 52.
Members of all the families were present for yesterday's dedication.
"This is a solemn place today," said Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers. "But let this be a part of the healing."
The Hero Plaque Program is a joint effort between the FOP Lodge 5 and lawyer James Binns.
Anyone interested in sponsoring a plaque should call Binns at 215-275-3000. *