An Emotional Farewell To A Pascagoula Police Officer

The people who packed the First Baptist Church in Pascagoula were Michael Byrd's family, friends and law enforcement brothers and sisters brought together by the badge they share. A friend says Michael succeeded in serving God as a police officer and as a minister.

"Michael, your tour of duty here is finished. Your fellow officers will take over your patrol with honor, dignity, and valor. You're God's good and faithful servant. Enter now into the joy of the Lord," says Greg Johnston.

Michael's pastor says he celebrates each day he knew the young officer.

Reverend Bob Kates says, "I saw him grow into manhood with a sense of responsibility and a desire to make his life meaningful for others. I watched as he anchored his soul in the depths of God's love and I saw him give his heart to Jesus Christ as his Lord."

Wiping away tears, officer Byrd's father, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd, thanked the hundreds of law enforcers for embracing his son, and even drew some laughs.

"All of you have a brother who loved you all. Michael Byrd loved mankind and I know he loved me and his mother. That's why we named him after both of us."

The sheriff described his only son as a caring, loving brother, uncle, husband and father. Perhaps it was a premonition that made the young officer, two weeks before his death, ask his father for a special favor.

"He said, 'If anything ever happens to me, you take care of my wife and baby.' He said, 'I know you will.' And I said, 'Son, you know you have a family that would take care of your wife and baby, but why are you saying this? You're not going anywhere.' And he looked me right in my eyes and said, 'Dad, you never know.'"

In a touching gesture, Sheriff Byrd kissed his son's casket.

Michael was laid to rest in Serene Memorial Gardens in Escatawpa. His boss, Pascagoula Police Chief Mike Whittmore, handed the folded American flag from the casket to his wife Ashley.

Michael Byrd was a third generation law enforcement officer, following in the footsteps of his father, the sheriff, and his grandfather, who also served as Jackson County sheriff. He was a member of the Pascagoula Police Department for six years.

Thursday, officers from throughout Mississippi and across the Southeast came to say goodbye to Michael Byrd.