Fallen Officer Laid To Rest (with video of funeral procession)

The funeral procession on January 9th for Officer Jackson Winkeler.

By Betsy Finklea
A long tone over the radio.
Florence County Central Dispatch: LF 23, Jackson Winkeler, central dispatch.
A long tone.
Central Dispatch: LF 23, Jackson Winkeler, central dispatch.
A long tone.
Central Dispatch: Dillon County Station Two, LF 23, Jackson Winkeler, central dispatch.
Central Dispatch: LF 1, central dispatch.
Latta Fire 1: Go ahead, LF 1.
Central Dispatch: LF 1, we are unable to reach LF 23, Jackson Winkeler. Can you advise?
Latta Fire 1: Affirmative, central. This will be Jackson Winkeler, LF 23’s, final call.
Then central dispatch begins another call.
Central Dispatch: Airport 6, central dispatch.
Central Dispatch: Airport 6, central dispatch.
A long tone.
Central Dispatch: Florence Regional Airport Officer Jackson Winkeler, central dispatch.
Central Dispatch: Airport 1, central dispatch.
Airport 1: Airport 1, go ahead.
Central Dispatch: Airport 1, we are unable to reach Airport 6, Jackson Winkeler, can you advise?
Airport 1: Affirmative. This is the last call for Florence Regional Airport Officer Jackson Winkeler.
Central Dispatch: Central Dispatch hereby acknowledges that this is the last call for Florence Regional Airport Officer and Latta Firefighter Jackson Winkeler. He is no longer responding to calls because he has flown home.
Helicopters fly above the Pyerian Baptist Church cemetery and so ends the funeral service for Jackson Ryan Winkeler, who died in the line of duty on January 5, 2020. He was the first offcer killed in the line of duty in the United States in 2020.
Winkeler was remembered for his big smile, his love for his family, his great love for his job, and his love for all his communities and all the people in them by Chief Robert Norton, Chief of Public Safety for the Florence Regional Airport at Winkeler’s funeral which took place at the Florence Center on Thursday morning, January 9th, which was also National Law Enforcement Day.
Norton said Winkeler was persistent and passionate about wanting to be a law enforcement officer. Norton gave Winkeler that chance in August 2019 when he hired him to work at the Florence Regional Airport. He said they welcomed Winkeler into the family, and he quickly made himself one of the crew.
Norton recalled that Winkeler never met a stranger in the airport. He would push people in wheelchairs and talk to people at the ticket counter.
“He loved what he did, and he loved people,” said Norton. Norton said as a rookie, Winkeler was always eager to ask questions and do whatever you wanted him to do. He said it is not every day that you get to make someone’s dreams come true, but he was afforded that chance when he met Jackson Winkeler.
Norton read Psalms 23:4, which says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” He challenged everyone there to read this and to fear no evil because God is with you.
Dr. James Orr, pastor of Pyerian Baptist Church, shared a lovely, personal letter that Winkeler’s sister, Adrienne, wrote. Dr. Orr, said that he was Jackson’s pastor for the past 13 years. He said Winkeler loved to talk and was passionate abou tthe things he did. He talked about Winkeler’s fire, energy, passion, and persistence as he worked for the opportunity to serve and protect others.
“Officer Jackson Winkeler made a choice,” said Dr. Orr to the more than 1,000 people in attendance. “He made a choice not only to fulfill his dream,” said Orr, “but he made a choice to fulfill his duty, and that’s a more difficult choice sometimes. And in the line of that duty, he made the supreme and ultimate sacrifice.”
“An evil criminal action will not put out the fire that is Jackson Winkeler,” said Dr. Orr. He said Winkeler was not alone when this evil act occurred. Jesus was with him.
He said Winkeler chose Christ, and he encouraged others at the end of his remarks to accept Christ as their Savior and King.
A South Carolina flag was presented to Winkeler’s family.
Also participating in the funeral at the Florence Center were Deidra, Sandy, and John Jones, who sang; Chaplain Sam Turbeville of the City of Florence Police Department, who talked about the life and difficulties of being a police officer; and the S.C. Highway Patrol Honor Guard.
The lone bagpiper played as everyone exited the building headed to the graveside at Pyerian Baptist Church cemetery, where there was a 21-gun salute; the playing of Taps; the retiring of the colors; the last call with Florence Central Dispatch, Latta Fire Chief Andy Britt, and Florence Regional Airport Chief, Robert Norton participating; and the fly over. Pall bearers were members of the Latta and Floyd Dale Volunteer Fire Departments. Departments from all over the state were in attendance along with officers from Chicago, New York, and elsewhere and the Brotherhood for the Fallen, which represents police forces from around the nation. Cooper Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Memorials may be made to the S.C. Highway Patrol, your local Fire Department or Rescue Squad, or to the Gideons, P.O. Box 111, Dillon, S.C. 29536.

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