‘You could always count on him’: Pee Dee communities honor fallen airport officer

‘You could always count on him’: Pee Dee communities honor fallen airport officer

FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) - Hearts are broken in Florence and Dillon counties, as family, friends and colleagues mourn the loss of a fallen officer.

The director of the Florence Regional Airport said “our family unit is broken right now” following Sunday’s deadly shooting that claimed 26-year-old Jackson Winkeler’s life, who was an officer at the airport.

“I believe the thing that sets us apart from other airports is the family unit that we have here. Yesterday, one of our family members lost his life in the line of duty, serving our airport,” Connie Anderson, director of the Florence Regional Airport, said in a statement.

Anderson said Winkeler brought “so much joy to our work family,” noting that his laughter and “infectious personality” could brighten a room.

“Please continue to pray for us as our family unit is broken right now but we are so thankful for the Grace of our Heavenly Father and know that in time, we will heal,” Anderson’s statement read, in part.

**Offical Statement** "I believe the thing that sets us apart from other airports is the family unit that we have here. ...

Posted by Florence Regional Airport on Monday, January 6, 2020

Along with being an officer, Winkeler was a volunteer firefighter with the Dillon County Fire Department in Latta for five years.

“He was great at both jobs. He was a real asset to the community," Fire Chief Anthony Britt said. “If you needed stuff done, he was always willing to help… always.”

“You could always count on him, call on him if you needed something. He was an all-around good dude," longtime friend, John Bethea, said.

On Monday night, law enforcement officers escorted Winkeler’s body from Charleston, where his body was autopsied, to his home of Dillon.

Law enforcement officers, first responders and total strangers lined the streets to honor the young officer.

FALLEN OFFICER PROCESSION: The body of Jackson Winkeler will be passing the Florence Regional Airport where he was shot and killed Sunday morning. He is being taken to Dillon County where he was also a firefighter. Thank you for your service officer Winkeler. MORE INFO >> https://bit.ly/2sS0DnO

Posted by WMBF News on Monday, January 6, 2020

“He was willing to sacrifice his life to make the world a better place for us to live in,” said Florence Unified Fire District coordinator Sam Brockington.

As the procession made its way through Florence, Latta and Dillon, a sea of blue lit the night sky as hundreds stood in silence, overcome with emotion.

“You see things like this, but it really hit close to home. Everyone loved him and knew he was a great guy,” Britt said.

Visitation for Winkeler will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8 at Pyerian Baptist Church located at 2813 Pyerian Road in Latta.

His funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 9 at the Florence Center at 3300 W. Radio Drive.

VIDEO: Flags lowered to half staff at Florence Regional Airport after officer's death

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