OGDEN — Thousands packed the Ogden City Cemetery on a frigid January afternoon beneath blue skies, trembling in the cold, fighting back tears and holding onto faith as they bade farewell to a fallen Ogden police officer.
Jared Francom's final resting place at the cemetery had been cleared away of snow for the family, friends and fellow officers who showed up to pay tribute. The tree-lined avenues in the city's oldest cemetery were also lined with hundreds of American flags placed by volunteers the evening before.
Hours before the graveside services were even set to begin, members of the Washington Terrace 8th LDS Ward were along either side of Monroe Boulevard on the eastern side of the cemetery, hunkering down for a long wait with their U.S. flags along the procession's route.
Kent Draper said close to 60 people from the ward had turned out to line the route, taking time off jobs, from school or any other activity that may have otherwise occupied their day.
"It is the least we could do, to be able to come out and pay respect and show remorse for him, for the family," he said. "I could be skiing, but I would rather be doing this. It's an honor."
That same sentiment was expressed by Weber County sheriff's corrections officer Dan Halacy, a long-time trumpet player who played taps at the graveside service.
"For me this is the greatest honor to be given to try to honor an officer fallen in the line of duty," Halacy said, hours before his performance was to begin.
For a time, he stood silent and alone near the hillside where he would play, reflecting.
"It is sad to have to do these things," he said. "But I want to do my best to honor those who can stand and deliver when it is needed most."
Halacy, who has performed at police officers' services before, says he makes it a practice to refrain from attending the funeral. If he does, it becomes too personal, too hard and it won't do anyone any good if he can't perform.
"It is a highly emotional state," he said. "If I have a big egg in my throat, they won't get the performance they deserve."
Along with Halacy, Kris Neville from Hooper spent long hours waiting in the cold for the graveside service to begin.
With her, she had two wicker-style baskets of white homing pigeons, or rock doves, that were later released during the graveside services.
"At times like this, everybody wants to do something," she said. "We are doing this because it is something we can do."
The birds, she said, know enough to fly home to Hooper afterward where their mates and food would be waiting.
As the long line of paired-up motorcycle officers began to arrive at the cemetery, a renewed hush fell over those in the cold. Despite the hundreds of officers, family members, Boy Scout troops and a high school bagpipe band gathered in advance, it was eerily quiet.
Occasionally, a dog would bark or a child would cry. People whispered condolences to each other, exchanged hugs or brief smiles.4 comments on this story
There were brief words spoken at the graveside by Ogden's interim Police Chief Wayne Tarwater. Francom's widow, Erin, was presented with the city's Medal of Honor.
A traditional 21-gun salute was offered and Halacy played a flawless taps. Then, the ceremonial words no one in law enforcement wants to hear came over the police radio from dispatch, signaling a final sign-off from duty with that officer's personal "call" sign.
"Agent Jared Francom may no longer be be with us; however he will never be forgotten. Agent Jared Francom, Whiskey 12, is 10-42 at 1514 hours on Jan. 11, 2012."