Hundreds of uniformed officers surrounded the family of fallen Conway Police Department officer William McGary Wednesday afternoon at Valley Baptist Church in Searcy for a “hero’s sendoff.”
Funeral slideshow: Honoring William McGary
McGary, 26, died of injuries he sustained when he was hit by a vehicle while directing traffic around an accident last Thursday on Dave Ward Drive.
Conway Police Department's 107 officers and the department's entire family, as well as representatives from emergency agencies around the state traveled to McGary’s hometown of Searcy in a tremendous display of support and gratitude.
The church, located on Highway 36, was overflowing with attendees viewing the service on televisions inside fellowship areas of the church. Many waited outside.
The service was shown live by media outlets.
McGary’s pastor, James Hays, led the ceremony and gave insight into McGary’s character outside of law enforcement.
Hays said he had been McGary’s pastor for 14 years. He described him as a great athlete, a loving brother, a devoted son and a child of God. Hays said McGary loved the outdoors, hunting and fishing.
“He has left for all of us a legacy to follow. He died a hero,” Hays said.
The pastor told the crowd that McGary touched more lives in 26 years than most do in 86 years.
At the head of McGary’s casket was the United States Honor Flag, a flag that first flew over Ground Zero after the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City.
The flag has since traveled to memorial services overseas and in the United States.
The flag has even been in space, Hays said.
“The flag travels today with Will in the hearse to the cemetery, and will then be in the possession of the Conway Police Department. When the service is over it will be sent to the next memorial service,” Hays said.
Hays told mourners he was humbled by the support shown to the McGary family by the Conway Police Department.
“The Conway Police Department stayed with him all the way. They stayed overnight in the hospital. The chief was there. The mayor and many of the police officers from Conway were there…They didn’t leave until his family did,” Hays said.
Conway Chief AJ Gary explained though McGary was with the department for just under two years, he made a “huge impact” on the agency and community.
Gary described an eager public servant who asked questions and did his job very well.
Quoting McGary’s superior officer, Gary said, “There are good officers, and there are great officers. Will was a great officer.”
Gary told McGary’s family they are part of the law enforcement family, “and as you can see, it is a large family.”
Arkansas Attorney Dustin McDaniel spoke after Gary, adding that those in the field of law enforcement share a kinship.
“Like the hymn said earlier, ‘Ere I knew him, we were brothers,” McDaniel, a former patrol officer, said.Hays delievered a message of remembrance. “Since Thursday night, Will has not been by himself,” Hays said. Fellow officers stayed with McGary at the church throughout the night, he said.
“He felt like, and I believe it was, his calling to be a police officer,” Hays said. “It was his dream come true. For two years, he lived his dream.”
A graveside service followed the church ceremony in Romance, Ark.