Like the police officers he served with and thousands more he never met, Phoenix officer Eric White’s time on the job was filled with many unrecognized acts of heroism.
At a public ceremony Saturday to honor the 30-year-old White — shot Aug. 28 by a gunman he was trying to apprehend — friends, family and colleagues gave thanks to all those who risk their own safety for the security of others, and they vowed not to forget.
"We will remember that Eric lost his life serving his community," Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris said. "We will remember Eric died a hero."
Facing his family, friends and about 3,000 uniformed police and civilian onlookers, admirers of White in life and in death spoke of his sacrifices, generosity, humor, friendship and love.
He was a dedicated family man who spoke proudly of his wife Colleen, daughter Alexia and son Connor to friends and fellow officers.
He was an ambitious entrepreneur who worked during off hours with his own landscaping business.
He was a warm and inviting personality who made friends easily and inspired deep loyalty.
He had a knack for getting into situations that would have made great slapstick comedy, like the time he inadvertently tossed a pesky monkey into oncoming traffic in Thailand after it urinated on his arm.
But most importantly, he was a dedicated police officer who did not hesitate when it came to protecting other people.
White and fellow officer Jason Wolfe, 27, were killed after they kicked open a north Phoenix apartment door with a waiting gunman on the other side. A third officer, 26-yearold Chris Parese, was wounded.
Among the comments was a reminder, paraphrased from author George Orwell, of why it is important to remember the sacrifices of White, Wolfe and those like them.
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough, honorable men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."