Indianapolis – Governor Mike Pence delivered the below remarks at the funeral of fallen Kokomo Sheriff’s Deputy Carl Koontz today in Kokomo.
Remarks as Delivered
Tribute to Kokomo Sheriff’s Deputy Carl Koontz
To Kassie and Noah, mom and dad, Alice, grandparents, Ann and Allen, Alice and Carl, Floyd family, aunts and uncles, cousins, Sheriff Rodgers, members of his law enforcement family and the Howard County Sheriff’s Department, Mayor Goodnight, members of the Kokomo Police Department, other public safety officials from all across the state and nation, Mrs. Donnelly, Lieutenant Governor Holcomb, Congresswoman Brooks, Congressman Rokita, honored guests and neighbors.
Words fail when heroism and heartbreak meet. And they especially fail after the eloquent tributes that just came from this podium from those who could speak so much better than me. But the Bible says, “if you owe debts, pay debts. If honor, then honor, if respect, then respect.” And so on this day, it’s our duty to stand with you, on behalf of all the people of Indiana, to honor the life and mourn the passing of an Indiana hero, Howard County Deputy Sheriff Carl Allen Koontz.
Today, the hearts of every Hoosier are in Howard County.
Carl Koontz passed away at 11:10 a.m. on Palm Sunday after being injured in the line of duty the night before. He volunteered beyond his shift to assist other officers, and without regard for his personal safety, he put himself in harm’s way.
This was a courageous man.
Teddy Roosevelt said, “the darker the night, the bolder the lion.” And this man went into the dark of night and his courage saved the lives of his fellow officers and this community. Truly, no greater love was in evidence that night. As Sergeant Buckley said, “that’s just who Deputy Koontz was.”
But today we gather in these extraordinary numbers and we have seen such an outpouring of admiration of lined streets and from our capital city to Howard County. Motorcycles traveling from Grissom to this very place. Blue lights and ribbons. I think we’ve seen this outpouring of admiration not merely for how he died, but for how he lived. Kassie just shared with us the story that we’d all love reading again and again. Born on April 8, 1989 here in Kokomo, graduated from Western High, a BA from IU – Kokomo, married his high school sweetheart. Worked at the local Marsh Supermarket, but he always dreamed of being a police officer. Probably inspired by a member of his family, who’s gone home to be with the Lord, and his wife, who’s with us here. One friend actually said, they remembered how he dressed up as a cop for a Halloween party once. Although that was more like Reno 911 than Dragnet. But he got his wish.
Started with the Howard County Sheriff’s Department in July 2013, not just too long ago. And I had the privilege of being there in November of 2013 when he graduated in that historic 200th class in the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. His dad and I were just talking about it a minute ago. Under that big tent, 90 officers, a chiseled look on their face, all ready to step into the gap, for the people of their community and their state. Proud parents lining the perimeter. It was a humbling moment.
Oh, he became a police officer. He was the Deputy Sheriff here. And the stories just keep pouring in. I’m just so moved to hear from his comrades about even more. My personal favorite was the one that came to light from Brianne Harness, her little daughter, her little precocious daughter who was acting up, I guess, in her car seat. So even though the weather was freezing, this big, strapping Deputy Sheriff came out and for 30 minutes, talked this little girl into the importance of staying in her car seat. He won that argument with little Adalynne, but I guess he asked Briana if this was what it was going to be like with Noah and she said, “you have no idea.” She said he was patient and kind. She marveled at him, at the kind of man he was, and the time he took. The Bible tells us to mourn with those who mourn, and grieve with those who grieve, but we do not grieve like the rest who have no hope. Because our faith gives us hope. And heroes give us hope.
As your Governor, and as the father of a son just about Carl’s age, I cannot imagine the pain and grief you feel losing this remarkable young man of such character and promise. But I am mindful of the words of Helen Steiner Rice, who wrote, “Time is not measured by the years you live, but by the deeds that you do and the joy you give.” By the measure of his courageous deed, his selfless service and his joyful heart, this good and noble man led a consequential life in just short of 27 years.
We can never fully repay our debt to Deputy Koontz for his service to this county, this state and this nation, but we can honor him. Not simply by remembering, but also as Carl might most wish by rededicating ourselves to standing with renewed energy behind all of you who each and every day risk all for our families across this state and this nation. And this, we will do.
So Kassie, Mom, Dad, Alice, family members, friends and fellow officers, it is said that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and that will be our prayer for you in the days ahead all across this state.
On behalf of a grateful state our deepest and sincerest condolences and the fervent prayer that those of you who knew and loved this kind an courageous man might find comfort in your faith, in each other and in the absolute assurance, the absolute assurance that Indiana will never forget the life and service of Howard County Deputy Sheriff Carl A. Koontz.
Kassie, his legacy will live on forever.
May his memory ever comfort; may it ever inspire; and may Deputy Carl Koontz rest in peace.