SPANISH FORK — Christy Ivie cried as a U.S. Border Patrol agent and friend somberly led her husband's horse with his cowboy boots turned backward in the stirrups past his flag-draped casket at the city cemetery.
Until then, the grief-stricken mother of two young daughters appeared to hold her composure throughout the funeral and burial services for Border Patrol agent Nicholas J. Ivie. With her girls at her side, she dabbed her eyes as the strains of "Abide With Me" followed from a lone bagpiper.
Ivie was laid to rest Thursday following a funeral in the UCCU Center at Utah Valley University. Hundreds of people, including uniformed officers from federal, state and local police agencies, attended the service. Spanish Fork residents, many holding American flags, lined Main Street as the funeral procession made its way to the cemetery.
Friends, family and fellow Border Patrol agents honored Ivie with moving glimpses into what all described as a life well lived.
Joel Ivie shared stories from his brother's childhood through their time serving together on the horse patrol in the mountains along the U.S.-Mexican border in southeastern Arizona.
Ivie's horse, he said, was once a wild mustang that had the pointed tips of its ears frozen off, leaving them rounded. Ivie named it Mouse.
"Nick loved that horse," Joel Ivie said. "He was always hugging that horse."
Ivie, 30, died Oct. 2 in a friendly fire incident in southeastern Arizona. He and two other agents responded from different directions to a ground sensor in a mountainous area known for drug smuggling near the Mexican border.
Ivie, who was on horseback, apparently opened fire first, wounding one of the other agents. He was killed in the return fire.
Born in South Carolina, Ivie grew up in Provo and attended Timpview High School. He trained to be a firefighter, EMT and paramedic and worked as a volunteer with Spanish Fork EMS. He joined the Border Patrol in January 2008.
David V. Aguilar, deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, also referred to Ivie's horse, saying Mouse was tough and high-spirited, just like its rider.
It takes a unique breed of individual to join the Border Patrol, Aguilar said. He said he worked more than 30 years in the agency with agents like Ivie, "So I know of his character, so I know of his fiber, so I know of his mettle."
Aguilar also spoke directly to Ivie's daughters, 3-year-old Raigan, and Presley, 22 months. He told them he wanted them to know who their daddy was, calling Ivie a good man, a patriot and someone who others looked up to.
He said 15 or 20 years from now, when they look around at the country, "I want you to know your father was a big part of that way of life, that American way of life."
Border Patrol agent and neighbor Ted Stanley said Ivie encouraged him to give the horse patrol a try, even though he knew nothing about horses. Stanley did and recalled the only time he and Ivie were able to pull a shift together.
Ivie, he said, took him to his favorite spot in the mountains near the border to show him the trails and share what he knew about the area.
"That's all I needed," said Stanley, the agent who led a riderless Mouse past the casket.
Stanley lives across the street from the Ivies in Sierra Vista, Ariz. His children and the Ivie children played together, and Ivie was usually in the middle of it. He sometimes knocked on the Stanleys' door to tell their 12-year-old son about a snake or tarantula he'd found.
"He actually took the time to get to know my kids' likes and interests inside and out," Stanley said. "We called Nick the neighborhood dad."
Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher said he and some agents hiked to the site in the mountains were Ivie was killed. He wore his Border Patrol-issue cowboy boots as a tribute to Ivie. The agents explained to him what happened that night.
"I said a prayer for Nick and for the family," Fischer said.
Elder Erich W. Kopischke, of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, served as Christy Ivie's mission president in Germany.
One of the first words missionaries learn is auf wiedersehen, he said. In addition to goodbye, its meaning includes an element of hope. Directly translated, he said, it means "until we see us again."
"This is the expression we want to use for Nick today," he said.
Elder Kopischke also read a letter from the LDS Church's First Presidency to the Ivie family offering heartfelt sympathy and the hope they can be together again for eternity.1 comment on this story
At the cemetery near the base of burnt-orange mountains, the Border Patrol honored Ivie with a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps. Helicopters flew over in missing man formation.
On one knee, Fischer presented Christy Ivie with the flag from the casket and told her her husband served with pride and distinction.
"I know that is not fair compensation for that which you have lost," he told her during the funeral. "For that, I am truly sorry."