Amazing. Friday we escorted Alaska state trooper Sgt. Patrick Johnson and trooper Gabriel Rich back to the airport for their final flight home. What I saw from the citizens of Anchorage, other areas of Alaska and visitors to our great state was nothing short of amazing.
As the procession wound across town from the State Medical Examiner Office to the airport, I was constantly reminded of why we do this job and, more important, who we do it for. Many of you came out on purpose to pay your respects, while many others were simply caught up in it by circumstance. No matter which category you fell into, it was quite obvious that your level of respect, patience, honor and support was honest and sincere.
There was the group of children on Tudor Road near Elmore Road by the car wash, the group of Air Force personnel in uniform on Tudor near C Street, the gentleman in the black Ford F-350 at Tudor and Arctic Boulevard waiting for what must have seemed forever to make a turn, the lady in traditional Native dress performing a prayer on Tudor over the Seward Highway, the mom with three similarly dressed daughters close to the airport itself. ... I could go on but it would number in the thousands and there simply isn't the room.
Rest assured, every person in the motorcade saw each and every one of you, hearts crossed, hands held in salute, or simply standing aside paying your respects.
Tragically, I've been to more law enforcement funerals than I have years in law enforcement, and it simply does not get any easier. Every time law enforcement suffers anywhere, we bleed a little. The closer it hits home, the more it hurts. Today it was for our brother agency the Alaska State Troopers. It hurt. A lot.
We will honor our fallen, we will heal and we will continue on with what we all signed on to this calling in life to do: protect and serve. Today was a tragic reminder of why we do what we do. Evil does exist.
More important, you exist and your support today was a welcome reminder that much more good exists than evil ever will.
You put aside a few minutes of your day, when we normally tend to your needs, so that we might spend a few minutes taking care of our own. For that, I thank you.
Sgt. Shaun Henry is a veteran Anchorage police officer.
By SGT. SHAUN HENRY