Honor Flag Flown on Final Shuttle Mission at Funeral of Slain Deputy

The honor flag which flew on the final space shuttle mission, STS-135, aboard shuttle Atlantis, was at the funeral of slain Brevard County Sheriff's Office deputy Barbara Ann Pill. Pill was shot and killed during a traffic stop of two alleged suspects. Photo Credit: Julian Leek

When a launch occurs, all eyes focus on Brevard Country’s Space Coast. What may not be considered is that it takes a lot of dedicated civil servants from agencies across the county to keep the public safe during these exciting periods. Their jobs do not end when the fire and thunder end however. Deputy Sherriff Barbara Ann Pill was killed during a traffic stop, something not related to space exploration in any way. However, her sacrifice was honored by an icon that has become a symbol for many of the courageous work conducted by soldiers, astronauts, fire fighters, paramedics – and law enforcement officers. 

On Tuesday the Space Coast had one of the largest traffic jams and road closings in the county’s history – but this was not due to a launch. Representatives of police agencies from as far away as Chicago converged on Brevard County to attend Pill’s funeral. Pill’s sacrifice was further honored by the presence of the United States Honor flag that flew recently on the space shuttle Atlantis on its final trip to the International Space Station (ISS). It was brought to Brevard County for this funeral. According to the Honor Flag’s website: 

“Since September 2001, the United States Honor Flag has paid tribute to those who have lost their lives in the line of duty protecting our lives, our homes and our country, and also those who currently serve our communities and our nation.” 

The honor flag was placed on a dias behind the deputy's casket. Photo Credit: Julian Leek

This flag has been moved around the country being displayed at more than 1000 events.  Doing the funeral the folded flag was placed behind the coffin on a shelf among the flowers.

Deputy Pill had more than 30 years in law enforcement, 15 years with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. Pill was shot and killed on March 6 by two individuals suspected of stealing furniture. 

Pill's funeral was attended by some 5,000 mourners with throngs of citizens lining the route to the church where Pill's service was held. Photo Credit: Julian Leek

It has been estimated that 5,000 people were in attendance at the huge Calvary Chapel in West Melbourne. This does not include the thousands that lined the 12-mile route from the funeral home, located in Palm Bay, to the church. 

Senior Pastor Mark Balmer snapped his fingers to remind the attendees just how quickly one’s life can be snuffed out. The Governor of Florida Rick Scott and Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bundy were in attendance but did not comment during the service out of respect for the family. 

Representatives from law enforcement agencies as far away as Chicago came to Florida's Space Coast to pay their respects to Deputy Pill. Photo Credit: Julian Leek

Outside of the church the service was concluded with Bag Pipers playing “Amazing Grace” a 21 gun salute, taps, and the 10-7 message (police code for out of service), sheriff’s aviation fly-over and the final flag presentation to the family.

Deputy Pill was born in 1959 and is survived by her husband, Steve, and her sons, Jeremy (Kate) and Ryan Pill, and stepson Joshua Ray. Jeremy and Ryan are both law enforcement offices who serve in Brevard County.   

The Brevard County Sheriff's Office still has an image of the space shuttle as part of their patrol car's official logo. Photo Credit: Julian Leek

 
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  • Mary Kanian

    How fitting that her funeral be so movingly captured by one of the best Space Coast photographers! Interesting how everyone’s lives intertwine in the most amazing ways…..

  • Nellie

    Julian, what a great article and tribute to Deputy Pill who sacrificed all for the residents of the Space Coast-Thank you.