GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. - The Clay County detective shot and killed during a meth lab raid earlier this year received special honors during the Sheriff's Office's annual law enforcement memorial day.
Detective David White was killed during a raid on a suspected drug house in Middleburg on Feb. 16.
"No honor or accolade or inscription on any wall can begin to repay David or his family for the sacrifice he made for all of us," Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler said during the service.
White's widow, Jennifer, supported by White's parents and sister and two young children, joined Beseler in placing a wreath at the front of the service.
The service closed with taps -- even more moving because White had been the honor guard's bugler in previous years. (A photo of White playing his bugle, left, was used on the cover of the program for the ceremony.)
Deputies, community leaders and White's family then traveled a few blocks to the Clay County Sheriff's office, which was officially renamed as the David A. White Memorial Headquarters.
White's name and photo were then added to seven other deputies on a Wall of Honor -- sheriff's deputies who sacrificed their lives in service to Clay County.
They are Sheriff Josephus Peeler, Sheriff Charles Wilson, Sheriff Theodore Cherry, Sgt. Richard Watkins, Auxiliary Deputy Arthur Caton, Deputy Wilson Walker, and Sgt. Kenneth "Eddie" Hayes.
"There are inherent risks with this job, and I encourage officers at all times to hug their wives and kiss their kids, because you may not return home this afternoon," said Clay County Undersheriff Craig Aldrich.
Jennifer White was presented with a $32,000 check from the Sheriff's Office Humanitarian Fund, she thanked the community for its support and reflected on memories of her husband expressing gratitude to others for their service.
"He was so proud to serve his country and his community. He expected nothing in return," Jennifer White said after the presentation. "I wish he could stand here instead today for these honors. I wish he could be an old man sitting on a bench one day so he could tell this story. I know Dave is so proud and so honored looking at us today and he cannot tell the story, but I can and I will."
After the ceremonies in Green Cove Springs, the dignitaries and White's family gathered again at the Sheriff's Office Middleburg substation, where a monument was dedicated to White and his partner, Detective Matt Hanlin, who was shot during the same raid and has recovered.
The Institute of Police Technology at the University of North Florida also Thursday dedicated two scholarships a year for Clay County deputies to receive specialized training as well as one college scholarship per year in David White's name for a graduating Middleburg High School student.
All these events along with plans to hold an annual golf tournament in White's honor are part of a conscious effort to keep the fallen detective's memory alive.
"Do not be deterred by the sudden and senseless violence that ended Detective White's life. Instead, resolve with me to work even harder, to ensure the way of life he and so many others have died to protect endures for generations," Beseler said in his remarks at the morning memorial service. "In this way we will continue to pay tribute to their sacrifices and keep their spirit alive forever."
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