|Officers salute Redlands man who died in Iraq|
|C.L. LOPEZ, Staff Writer|
Redlands Daily Facts
|Article Launched:05/26/2007 11:07:52 PM PDT|
|As the honor guard carried the flag-draped casket bearing the body of Army Spc. William "Tony" Farrar Jr., more than 100 police officers stood in formation, their right hands held to their heads in salute. |
Farrar Jr. never got the chance to follow in the footsteps of his father, Rialto's Police Capt. William "Tony" Farrar Sr. The 20-year-old Redlands soldier was killed May 11 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee as he drove through Al Iskandariyah, Iraq. But he came close - he was a member of the military police.
On Friday, Rialto's finest gathered at First Missionary Baptist Church of Redlands to honor the fallen son of their captain.
Sgt. Tim Lane, who has known the family for 17 years, said it was important for the Rialto police officers to be there to support the captain and his family.
"His son is a military policeman and he was a part of our law enforcement family," Lane said. "Everybody who knew Tony is proud of his choice."
Ken, one of Farrar Jr.'s brothers, is a Marine.
'Tony was prepared for everything'
At the church, more than 100 police officers gathered in a room near the packed sanctuary and watched the service on large screens. Images from Farrar Jr.'s life flashed on giant screens during a slide show. The service was a celebration of Farrar Jr.'s faith and patriotism. His uncle Scott Breckley talked about his nephew's life and his decision to serve his country.
"Tony's decision to be a soldier was not a spur-of-the-moment decision," he said. "Tony was prepared for everything and Tony passed every test the Army threw at him except one."
That test came when Farrar Jr. stepped onto a scale and was found to be too light.
"Tony was not going to let a few pounds stand between him and his goal," Breckley said.
Thirteen days later, the would-be soldier drank a gallon of water and made weight.
The young soldier's decision to believe in God was also celebrated.
Christine Rodriguez recalled how Farrar Jr. came to faith in July 2005.
"He boldly said, RI do not believe in God,'" she recalled. After she shared her testimony with him that day and he listened to the sermon at an evening service, she said he chose to believe in God.
'We watched them grow up'
Outside the church, members of the Patriot Guard waited for the casket to be carried out to the hearse. The group, made up of bikers and veterans, attends the funerals of soldiers to honor them and their families. Bill Bogart said he and about 25 bikers rode in from Palm Springs with Farrar Jr.'s mother, Sally Bors, a friend of his. Bogart has ridden on previous Patriot Guard missions, but he said this was the first time it has been for someone he knew.
"She (Bors) is a very special part of our community," he said. "It's amazing to see how one young person (Tony) can touch so many lives."
About 500 people attended the service and most of them were in the funeral procession that wove through the Redlands neighborhoods, not far from where Farrar Jr. lived with his family for a year.
People paused to see a seemingly endless procession of motorcycles, police cars with the red, white and blue lights flashing and fire trucks following the white hearse. One family stood at a street corner waving American flags and others simply bowed their heads in prayer when they saw the white hearse carrying the fallen Redlands soldier. Motorcycle officers stopped traffic at all the intersections and later, along the freeway, for the procession to make its way to Riverside National Cemetery.
There, members of the Patriot Guard held American flags and lined both sides of the walkway and police officers and firefighters saluted the fallen soldier.
Farrar Sr. and his wife, Cathy, sat with their twin daughters, Christina and Samantha, who each held small American flags.
Moments later, Farrar Sr. and Bors each tearfully accepted a folded American flag, Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
At the end of the service, some police officers struggled to find words to talk about the young soldier.
Tim Roy, now with the Riverside Police Department, previously worked with Farrar Sr.
"We have known both kids (Tony and his brother Ken) since they we so small and we watched them grow up," he said. "It shows you how much respect everyone has for them - especially with both boys serving their country."