SPRINGVILLE The first time Utah Highway Patrol trooper Charles "Chuck" Warren was again able to fire a handgun after having been shot in the head during a traffic stop, tears rolled down his face.
He couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, said stepson Mart Gardner, but he emptied a full box of ammunition, finally feeling like he was back "full circle."
Warren's family reminisced about their husband and stepfather Friday morning at a ceremony to dedicate a giant white cross in his memory. The white cross has been placed along Interstate 15 in Springville.
"Almost his last words (were that) he wanted to get better and go back on the road," said his widow, Kathleen Warren, who will be 75 next week.
During a routine evening patrol shift on Sept. 2, 1969, in the area of 400 South and 600 West in Springville, Warren pulled over a car believed to be stolen.
The 42-year-old officer asked a young man to step out of the car. The young man shot Warren twice in the forehead.
Warren had already unclipped his revolver and, as he was falling, fired into the man's leg, hand and car.
The man, in his late teens or early 20s, took off running through nearby fields, leading police on a manhunt for several hours. He was found and eventually sent to prison for his crimes.
Warren was rushed to a hospital, where he lay in a coma for nearly eight weeks.
He recovered but was paralyzed on his left side and lost his sense of smell and full speech abilities. He ended up in a care facility and then in the Payson Hospital, where he met Kathleen, who eventually became his wife.
His first wife had left him after the shooting.
Kathleen Warren said she and a co-worker would encourage Warren as he progressed. "We would have parties for him," she said. "Every time he accomplished something. He went a long, long way."
Warren lived until May 16, 1994, when he passed away due to complications from pneumonia and his injury but the UHP promised Friday that he would never be forgotten.
"Chuck Warren was a true public servant," said Col. Lance Davenport, UHP superintendant. "He's a hero, besides a public servant. He paid with his life."
Warren is one of 14 UHP officers killed in the line of duty in Utah, and this was the final memorial dedicated, said Cpl. Shane Nebeker, president of the Utah Highway Patrol Association.
Davenport pointed to a sticker in the rear window of a patrol car, which showed a black strip over the gold officer's star.
"The purpose of that sticker and this memorial is that we might always remember the great sacrifices made day in and day out by men and women in public service," he said. "We always want to remember."
Commissioner of Public Safety Scott Duncan said he was attending Springville High School when Warren was shot and had met him because his dad also was a UHP trooper.
"I want you to know," he said, addressing Warren's family, "we continue to do things, go on with our days, but we constantly think about those who have passed on, and we think of the families."
Warren's daughter-in-law, Glenna Gardner, said her favorite memory is taking Warren to visit her sons at Scout camp.
Their vehicle at the time was a Jeep without doors or a top.
"It sounded mean, but we took him out of the wheelchair and tied him into the Jeep with ropes so he could go up to eat with them at Scout camp," she said.
He loved it.
But what he really loved was his job and his co-workers, family said."At his funeral, it was said he had three loves: church, his family and the highway patrol," Kathleen Warren said. "Wrong. It was the highway patrol, then the church, then the wife. I can't think of anyone better I'd like to run in competition with."