‘Be our guardian angel’: Son delivers emotional tribute at funeral for fallen St. Johns County Sgt. Michael Kunovich

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Family, friends and members of law enforcement paid respects to Sergeant Michael Kunovich during a funeral service on Friday morning.

Kunovich died on May 19 in the line of duty.

It was an emotional service. One thing that was abundantly clear was the sergeant’s commitment to service and most importantly to his family.

“Greater love have no man than this. That a man lay down his life for his friends,” St. Johns County Sheriff Rob Hardwick said during the service.

His son Michael (Mikey) Kunovich shared how his father always remembered what was most important.

He truly embodied what it meant to be a great person, but most importantly he was a great dad. A lot of what I know today I learned from him and the life lessons he taught, the experiences he shared and his love of history and current events. All of which have helped inspire who my brother and I are today,” his son said.

Sky4 flew over the procession going to Oaklawn Cemetery where he was laid to rest.

Members of the Alpha Shift, the shift Kunovich worked with, presented flags to his two sons, along with his badge and the brass from the 21-gun salute.

“Dad your shift was over way too soon. Go rest high on the mountain, be our guardian angel and guide Max and I to serve like you did. I will always love you,” Michael Kunovich said.

The sheriff told Kunovich’s loved ones they too are part of sheirff’s office family forever.

Hardwick said earlier this week Kunovich succumbed to medical issues that were induced by the struggle with a suspect. The sergeant was in a struggle with Virjilio Aguilar-Mendez, who was suspected of trespassing. Aguilar-Mendez is in the country illegally and was afraid of being deported, according to an arrest report.

“Sergeant Kunovich will be deeply missed by not only his immediate family and his family at the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, but also by our community,” said Sheriff Hardwick. “Sergeant Kunovich was a valued member of the St. Johns County Office who passionately dedicated his career to keeping our community safe.”

Sgt. Michael Kunovich (WJXT)

Sergeant Kunovich was a 25-year member of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office and most recently served as a Sergeant in the Central Region. He worked in various capacities to include as a Reserve Deputy before coming on board full-time, a Senior Law Enforcement Deputy, a Senior Internal Affairs Detective, and a Patrol Shift Leader. Throughout his 25 years of service, he received numerous awards to include a Meritorious Service Award in 2003 and 2013, an Exceptional Service Award in 2010, and many letters of commendation. Sergeant Kunovich also served on the SWAT Team for 5 years and while serving, he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from Flagler College.

While Sergeant Kunovich took on the important role of serving and protecting our community for 25 years, his most important role was that of being a father to two amazing young men who were his whole world. This was evident as his face would light up whenever he talked about them which was every chance he got.

The funeral mass took place at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Mandarin and the burial service was held at Oaklawn Cemetery.

St. Johns County Sergeant Michael Kunovich's casket carried out during funeral service (Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

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A Florida-born, Emmy Award winning journalist and proud NC A&T SU grad