(Newsday) NYPD Officer Larry DePrimo -- an instant hero after a photograph showing him giving shoes to a barefoot man went viral -- said he didn't expect anything in return.
But when Police Commissioner Ray Kelly honored the young officer from Holbrook Thursday, presenting him with a special set of cuff links, DePrimo beamed.
"This, I am never letting go," he said afterward at police headquarters. "He gave me police department commissioner cuff links . . . He showed me his, and they were identical. So I have to buy a little more dress shirts to wear them with."
DePrimo, 25, an officer with less than three years' experience, rocketed to fame when a tourist's snapshot was posted on the NYPD's Facebook page. It shows him in uniform, giving shoes and socks to an unidentified man the night of Nov. 14 near Times Square. The photo has been viewed 1.9 million times to date, the department said.
Concerned about the man's well-being in frigid weather, DePrimo said he paid $75 out of his own pocket for the insulated shoes and thermal socks.
"It is surreal right now . . . a humbling experience," he said of the hubbub. "I did it just because I felt it was what I had to do."
DePrimo credited his parents for bringing him up right.
"They raised me extremely well. A lot of what I am today is because of my upbringing," he said, adding that his mother cried when she learned of his act of generosity.
His neighbors in Holbrook have offered their own congratulations, and the Town of Islip is drafting plans to issue its own commendation, a spokesman said.
As news of his good deed spread, DePrimo said he was expecting jokes from fellow officers at the Sixth Precinct station house. They congratulated him instead.
"It is a humbling experience to have real heroes who have been on this job a lot longer than I have shaking my hand," he said.