Fallen Officer Jackson Winkeler is brought home with multiple officers, fire departments, rescue squads, and other first responders and officials in attendance on Monday, January 6, 2020. The flag hangs from the City of Dillon Ladder Truck. A helicopter flies above, and Latta Fire Department members stand at attention in the background along with members from other departments. (Photo by Belva Britt)
By Betsy Finklea
LATTA—Fallen officer Jackson Winkeler came home on Tuesday night.
People lined Main Street in Latta, some for hours, just to pay their respects to Winkeler, age 26, who was killed in the line of duty on Sunday at the Florence Regional Airport.
A banner stretched across Main Street that said J. Winkeler, EOW 1/5/2020.
A flag hung over Main Street from the City of Dillon ladder truck.
Fire trucks and rescue vehicles from throughout the county and the area lined the streets.
The Latta Fire Department members, where Winkeler was a firefighter, stood at attention with other firefighters and first responders with some saluting.
Two small boys who came with the Oakland Fire Department, joined in, standing at attention and holding a flag as a procession of numerous law enforcement vehicles from throughout the area and the van carrying Winkeler passed through.
A helicopter flew above following the procession.
Law enforcement and fire departments participated all the way along the route, from Charleston, where Winkeler had been sent for an autopsy; to Florence, where they passed through the Florence Regional Airport; through Latta, where he received a hero’s welcome; and then on to Cooper Funeral Home. Winkeler was accompanied all throughout the journey by those who respect the badge and the sacrifice made.
It was a reception befitting a man who was by all accounts was an outstanding public servant and always willing to help others.
Latta Town Administrator Jarett Taylor reflected on the events of the past few days. “In a world that makes you question people’s hearts and minds, Jackson’s character and passion for life has truly been reflected by the outpouring of love and support from around the Pee Dee and further,” said Taylor.
“Jackson’s memory will be carried by this community long after the last social media post, news article, or nightly story. Our hearts and spirits are hurting at the moment but the memories keep us hopeful for brighter days,” he said.
Visitation was held at Pyerian Baptist Church on Wednesday.
Funeral services were scheduled for Thursday morning at 11:00 a.m. at the Florence Civic Center.