Hundreds pay their respects to fallen officer
WHITERIVER — The tributes began with the blue and black ribbons and American flags that lined State Route 260 and much of State Route 73. They flapped and fluttered in the breeze created not only by the wind, but by the long line of vehicles headed for Whiteriver to attend the funeral for Officer David Kellywood.
In Whiteriver, the tributes continued, homemade signs, ribbons and balloons adorned fences along the route to the Chief Alchesay Activity Center. A giant American flag hung over the street from an archway created by two ladder trucks, one from Timber Mesa Fire and Medical District and one from Winslow Fire Department.
An hour before the start of the funeral, a long, long line of people there to pay their respects snaked around the parking lot of the Alchesay Center. People from across the area, tribal members and others, many with children, waited patiently to take their seats in the arena.
In a side parking lot, a sea of blue uniforms — hundreds of police officers there to honor Kellywood’s sacrifice — milled about talking with one another. Police departments from as far away as Canada, Boston, New York City and Chicago sent officers, as did numerous police departments from across Arizona and some from New Mexico including Mesa, Phoenix, Tempe, Tucson, Yuma and tribal police from the Quechan Tribe, San Carlos Apache, Navajo Nation and others.
It was a powerful display of unity. And unity was a theme mentioned frequently by those who spoke at Kellywood’s funeral.
“This tragedy has deeply hurt us … and as the days have unfolded since that tragic day, it is so humbling to see how everybody has come in unity. We have come together as one, set aside our differences and unified to comfort the family, to comfort the people and to comfort all who have come from near and far,” said Tribal Chairwoman Gwendena Lee-Gatewood in her welcome message at the opening of the funeral service.
An emotional and moving tribute was also offered by Theodore Shaw, chief of the White Mountain Apache Police Department.
“On Feb. 17, tragedy struck our community and took a hero’s life,” he said in preface to offering a brief biography of David Kellywood’s life.
“I want you to know that David loved this community,” he said. “And I give you my word his legacy will never, never be forgotten.” he added.
Tribal chairman Jerome Kasey III described the relationship between David and his wife, Kamellia, as mutually supportive, as they helped each other achieve their goals for education and a better life.
“They were two rez kids who made it (through) every obstacle that came their way,” he said.
“We’ve seen our tribe unite in the memory of David. Let us hold onto the unity in his memory,” he concluded.
At the close of the memorial service, another service was about to begin outside the Alchesay Center, where scores of police officers stood at attention in orderly rows, their hands raised in a salute, to begin the honors afforded to a fallen police officer.
The pallbearers carried the casket out onto the tarmac, setting it in front of a seating area arranged for the family. Behind the family stood an elaborate Color Guard, flags waving gently.
A rifle salute was offered, followed by a bagpipe rendition of “Amazing Grace,” by the Mesa Honor Guard Pipe and Drum Corps. A pair of buglers sounded “Taps.”
A squadron of six helicopters flew in a single-file row above the ceremony.
The pallbearers, White Mountain Apache Police Officers, conducted the folding of the flag ceremony, and the flag was presented by Chief of Police Theodore Shaw to Kamellia Kellywood.
Official tribute gifts from several government entities were given to Mrs. Kellywood, including one from U.S. Congressman Tom O’Halleran, who was formerly a Chicago police officer.
A riderless horse was led past the casket.
In the final moving moments of the ceremony, the official End of Watch radio call was broadcast for officer P204.
Rest in peace, Officer Kellywood.