Odessa Police Department Cpl. Chris Mabry remembers seeing an honor guard at his father’s funeral.
From that moment, Mabry knew he wanted to join OPD’s Honor Guard to reciprocate the same emotions he felt to the family members of fallen officers around the country.
Mabry has been with OPD for five years and with the department’s honor guard for two.
"You are there for a brother that you never met, but they are your brother," Mabry said. "You hear their life story at the same time, so your emotions are kind of in a wreck, but you know why they are there and that person deserves the honor."
A majority of the events that OPD’s Honor Guard attends are mournful ceremonies.
However on Thursday afternoon, OPD’s Honor Guard presented the colors for Ector County Independent School District’s summer graduation at the Performing Arts Center on the campus of Odessa High School.
OPD’s Honor Guard has 15 members and its coordinator is Sgt. Missie Butts. The other four members that attended the summer graduation for ECISD were Cpls. Jonathan Campbell, Kendrick Barragan, Iliana Davis and Mabry.
"It’s a calling to be part of the honor guard," Butts said. "It’s not something that everyone can do, because it’s not just fun and games. Local events like (summer graduation) is fun, but funerals are tiring because you see people crying and it gets hard.
"A funeral is draining on anyone, but to know we are giving to those family members the way we would want our department’s family members to be treated is rewarding."
Butts has been with OPD for 17 years and the honor guard for 11. She has also been the coordinator of OPD’s Honor Guard for the last five years.
The newest member of the honor guard is Barragan. He has been with OPD for seven years and with the honor guard for a month. Barragan said being with the honor guard has pushed him to become a better officer for OPD.
"I didn’t know how big of a deal it was until I started doing everything," Barragan said. "I do want to look better. It has caused me to go back to the gym and work on my weight. I want my appearance to be clean and I want to represent the agency well."
OPD’s Honor Guard had one of its busiest months in May, which included a trip Austin and Washington D.C. Butts said May and November are their busiest months because of National Police Week in May and Veterans Day in November.
The honor guard also attends every funeral for a fallen peace officer in Texas. The most recent funeral the honor guard attended was for Mission Police Department Cpl. Jose Espericueta on Tuesday.
Campbell grew up in the Washington D.C. area and never experienced the National Police Week in the nation’s capital. Campbell has been Washington D.C. twice as part of OPD’s Honor Guard. He has been with the department for seven years and the honor guard for five.
"I was born and raised over there and I lived there my whole life and I never knew this event existed until I became a cop," Campbell said. "I was a local and I had no idea this stuff went on. It just blew my mind that our country supports law enforcement all over the United States."