SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - The San Jose Police Department is mourning the loss of one of their officers, who at just 37 years old, lost his battle to lung cancer. On Thursday, memorial services will be held for Officer Michael Lewandowski. He’ being remembered for dedicating his life to serving his community and country.
“Not everyone is as remarkable as this guy, not everyone is a standout,” said Sgt. Tony Vizzusi of San Jose Police.
Sgt. Vizzusi knew right away when he met Lewandowski at the San Jose Police five years ago-he was something special. As his drill instructor, he saw leadership qualities in him. Soon after, they became good friends. Losing him hasn't been easy.
“No one thought that a 37-year-old healthy guy like Mike would every go this way,” said Sgt. Vizzusi.
Michael was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2015-a nonsmoker. During Lewandowski’s chemotherapy treatments, officers from San Jose Police donated more than 2,000 hours of their personal vacation time so Lewandowski would still get a salary. After two years of fighting, he lost his battle last week.
“I know all of us just expected he's going to be beat this,” said Sgt. Vizzusi. “There's a way out of this. No one planned on him passing in this way.”
Lewandowski served as a captain in the U.S. Army serving both in Iraq and Afghanistan. This week, as they were planning his memorial service, they learned of his many award including the Bronze Star, which he never spoke of. Detective Valosek was his partner.
“That’s just him,” said Det. Valosek. “That's Michael. He's so humble and that's what we love about him.”
Born in Wisconsin and growing up in Pennsylvania, Lewandowski chose to serve in San Jose for its reputation. His last assignment was working patrol in South San Jose.
“My family is the police officers of San Jose at this moment,” said Wife Dani Lewandowski.
Lewandowski leaves behind a wife who's originally from Germany. One of the last things he did while still battling cancer was build a house for her so she would be taken care of.
“It means he loved me,” said Lewandowski. “It means he was a good man.”
“He’ll always be remembered. Michael's legacy will live on with his partners,” said Sgt. Vizzusi.
Memorial services will be held at Family Community Church in San Jose with full military honors. The department is collecting donations to help pay for funeral services and to help his family. Anyone wishing to donate can do so through the San Jose Police Officers Association www.sjpoa.com.