For the second day in a row, Atlanta laid to rest a fallen officer.
Officer Shawn Smiley was honored at his church in Dunwoody on Saturday. He was one of the two officers killed in the APD helicopter crash last weekend.
Hundreds of people showed up to the funeral saddened by the tragic loss but the funeral wasn't about his death. It was a celebration of his life; a celebration full of tears, laughter and plenty of smiles.
The celebration started with a motorcade that brought even strangers out.
Inside, the church was full of those who knew him best. His best friend Joshua Sanders was one of many of the guest speakers. "He lived up to his a name: Smiley. He was always smiling," said Sanders.
It was a smiley man that loved his family and his job.
"I heard many stories but one thing that came through consistently. Shawn loved to fly," said Police Chief George Turner.
Turner wasn't the only one to notice how much he loved his job.
"That man lived to serve and protect," said Sanders.
And that's what Smiley did to the very end, flying over Atlanta searching for a missing child.
Sanders said he went after that child like one of his own.
"I'll tell you what he was thinking about when he was in the helicopter. He was thinking about them. He was thinking about them being lost. To do whatever he had to do," Sanders said as he pointed to Smiley's three young kids.
It's something his kids knew very well and when given the chance they returned the favor.
"I love you daddy," said his young son William.
Outside, his family, friends and his second family, the Atlanta Police Department paraded to the mic with stories. They talked about what kind of loss this is and how Smiley is irreplaceable, but that doesn't mean they're giving up.
"This phoenix will fly again. We will patrol the night skies. We will light up the night skies with our lights. That's what Shawn would want," said one of his fellow pilots.
And now they said they won't be alone.
"Phoenix 2 is up there on patrol watching over each and every one of you. God bless," said another APD officer.
The struggle now for friends and loved ones will be to move on, and many said this funeral helped them to do just that.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Two officers were killed when their police helicopter crashed late Saturday night in southwest Atlanta. Read story Atlanta police are mourning the loss of two officers killed in a tragic helicopter crash.More>>
Friday, December 6 2013 12:29 AM EST2013-12-06 05:29:24 GMT
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