Ind. town gives a hero's goodbye to officer killed in crash

By LINDSEY ZILIAK | Kokomo (Ind.) Tribune | Published: July 8, 2014

FLORA, Ind. — Twenty-one rifle shots pierced the silence at Maple Lawn Cemetery in Flora Monday — a tribute to a hero who lost his life trying to save someone else’s.

Hundreds of police officers, firefighters, military men and women and emergency medical technicians from around the state gathered on the cemetery’s lawn and saluted their fallen comrade, 31-year-old Jacob Calvin.

Calvin, a Tipton County Sheriff’s deputy, was killed June 28 when his patrol car rolled over on the way to a crash scene.

He was laid to rest Monday in his hometown.

More than 600 people filled Carroll High School for the services before his burial.

Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter read a letter from Gov. Mike Pence aloud to the mourners gathered at the school.

“He gave his life answering a call for help,” Pence said in the letter. “He is a Hoosier hero.”

Hero was a word echoed by many throughout the service.

Carter said everyone should try to show perpetual kindness like Calvin did. If everyone had even half the heart for service, Carter said, we’d be the generation that changed the world.

The ISP superintendent looked at Calvin’s family Monday and said, “I hope you know we’ll never forget Jake’s journey, his friendship, his servant’s heart.”

That heart for service began 15 years ago. At 17 Calvin chose to enlist in the United States Air Force. His mother proudly signed his early enlistment papers.

He served in the military for six years, serving one tour in Iraq as a security police officer. He was constantly volunteering for the most dangerous parts of the mission.

When his tour was complete in 2005, he became an EMT, volunteer firefighter and police officer. During his two and a half years as a sheriff’s deputy, he became actively involved in removing illegal drugs from the streets. Last year he was one of the department’s arrest leaders.

Pastor Steve Cole shared a passage from the Book of Micah Monday.

“What does the Lord require of you?” he read. “To love justice, to show mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Calvin did all three, he said. He loved justice and was always fair and respectful in his pursuit of it. In fact, Cole said, he was so fair and respectful that an inmate he had arrested once told everyone how professional Calvin was.

Another time, Calvin stopped two kids who were driving trucks that “billowed” exhaust, Cole said. He explained how they were making it difficult for other people to see, which was dangerous.

After his death, those kids came forward and asked if they could put something on their trucks to honor the deputy.

“He has left a legacy even in his youthfulness,” Cole said. “He will never be forgotten by Tipton County, Carroll County, Howard County, the state of Indiana or even overseas. Jake helped so many people.”

During last year’s big snow storms, Calvin was out with a plow attached to his truck, trying to help as many people as he could. He cleared driveways for elderly people and for people who needed to get out and pick up medications. He even rescued a UPS driver who had wrecked his truck.

“For 36 hours straight, he helped people,” Cole said.

Calvin’s football coach and FFA advisor said there are few people in life who touch your heart in a special way. Calvin was one of those people. He’d light up a room with his smile.

The coach said Calvin would want people to do two things for him – say a prayer each night for those out serving and find ways to serve those in need whenever possible.

“He never gave up caring for those around him and doing good,” the coach said.

Calvin’s best friend, Todd Price, got a laugh when he told a story about the Fourth of July when he and Calvin tied his sister to a tree.

The two were always together and always up to something, whether that was on the hog farm or in FFA.

“We pretty much did everything together,” he said.

He learned that his friend was always willing to help, even if that was with a piece of advice you did not want, he said, fighting off tears.

As he fought to regain composure, Price said his friend wouldn’t want them to cry. He’d want them to celebrate his life.

He read from a poem he liked, one he thought Calvin would like, too.

“Do not stand at my grave and weep,” he read. “I am not there. I do not sleep… Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there. I did not die.”

Like the poem says, Calvin can be found in the stars in the sky, the wind that blows, the birds that fly, he said.

Price ended his eulogy with a tearful message for his friend, the man who loved everyone.

“Goodbye for now Jake,” he said. “I’ll meet you again one day.”


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