Honor Guard standing watch over fallen deputy ahead of Friday funeral

It’s been nearly one week since Bibb County Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Johnson was shot and killed in the line of duty.

But as family, friends and the community await his memorial and funeral on Friday, this hero’s body is being kept under watchful eyes. An Honor Guard made up of Shelby County Sheriff’s Office deputies has been standing with Brad, and will be until he’s laid to rest on Friday.

“I am thankful for the other offices that have offered assistance and bringing food and taking food to the family, making sure the family is taken care of,” said Bibb County Sheriff Jody Wade.

Around the clock, two Honor Guard members stand at attention next to Johnson’s U.S. flag-draped casket. That flag is the United States Honor Flag, and it’s traveled millions of miles and been part of memorials for heroes just like Brad.

“We help agencies honor their heroes and families honor their loved ones with a very special flag that’s become a national treasure for millions of Americans,” said U.S. Honor Flag President and founder Chris Heisler. “This single American flag has flown in the recovery efforts at Ground Zero. Since then, it has been to more than 1,000 funerals for fallen police officers, firefighters, and soldiers.”

Heisler’s organization also helps families and departments of fallen officers plan memorial services.

“They are the honor network,” he said. “They are the story. That’s why we are here. What I have learned about Brad is he is so deserving and so respected. Talking to his fiancée and his dad yesterday on how we are going to do the service, the different elements, this is what we do. The choreography, the ceremonial pieces. There wasn’t a dry eye in there. We were all crying.”

In times of tragedy, communities like Bibb County come together. Sheriff Wade said residents have flooded the department with acts of kindness and gratitude in honor of their fallen hero.

“I know there is so much that people have done that we will never know about,” Wade said. “They are not out there trying to get a pat on the back and I really appreciate that. Everybody has come to us to offer help to honor Brad.”

A public visitation and memorial service is being held Friday from 9 to 11 a.m. at the University of Montevallo’s Student Activity Center.

The public funeral begins at noon and will be followed by a procession from the memorial location to Centreville. A private burial will follow the procession.

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