BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Law enforcement officers and first responders from all over the state, region and nation came to the Coast to bid farewell to fallen Biloxi police officer, Robert McKeithen.
McKeithen served 24 years as a Biloxi police officer.
It began early Monday morning, as members of the Biloxi police and fire departments pitched in to serve to transport McKeithen’s casket from the Bradford O’Keefe Funeral Home to the First Baptist Church.
But it wasn’t just local law enforcement and first responders who pitched in to help. Many officers present traveled from out-of-state.
“My first stint on patrol was on the night shift with Mac,” said Ashleigh Pack.
Pack now works with the Bellevue Police Department in Bellevue, Washington. But not long ago she was serving with Officer McKeithen as a Biloxi police officer.
“I was at work at Bellevue. And having only been gone for five months, I was on shift when I heard about it. I broke down and was on a plane the very next day,” she said.
Then, Pack got some backup from her fellow Bellevue officers.
“We’re out here to support the thin blue line, and to be able to do these things is such a great thing. And our department supports us to do these things,” said Tyler Cornmesser with the Bellevue Police Department.
Bellevue to Biloxi is more than 2,600 miles, but both Pack and Cornmesser say it’s the least they could do to honor officer Robert McKeithen.
“Everyone’s been super supportive to the police department anyways. So, when this happened, it’s not surprising, but amazing to see,” Pack said.
No matter the uniform color, badge number, or logo, the brotherhood in blue was out in full force to remember Officer Robert McKeithen.
Officers from South Mississippi, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and towns all over the nation attended the service.
It wasn’t just law enforcement officers and first responders who wanted to honor Officer McKeithen. Coast neighbors and visitors, from as far away as Michigan, lined the funeral processional to pay final respects to an officer that most never knew.
Bystanders lined the streets of Highway 90 in Biloxi to show support. Signs, flags and wreaths in hand, the city was a decorated memorial displaying the life of McKeithen.
Gulf Park Estates Assistant Fire Chief Tarzan Treadway said it’s important for first responders from all agencies to come together in times like these.
“Whenever we lose someone, especially in circumstances like this, it’s really important for us all to go out and show each other support and to show the community as well that we’re supporting each other as best as we can," Treadway told WLOX.
A show of unity, support and camaraderie that will last long after the watch ends.