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COLUMN — Detective Entrekin goes above and beyond for veteran

Standing in the Amelia Veteran’s Cemetery Thursday, Farmville Police Detective Sammy Entrekin seemed a bit surprised he was getting so much attention for just doing the right thing.

As television cameras pointed at him and a reporter from a Richmond station asked him and Farmville Police Chief Andy Ellington questions, Entrekin politely and matter-of-factly told the story of how he helped a Vietnam veteran who died by suicide in a Farmville hotel receive proper military honors.

Entrekin didn’t have to do what he did. No one would have known. Robert Garrad Jr. was not from Farmville. Ellington said he had spent very little time in the area.

I’m sure Entrekin has plenty to do as a detective for the Farmville Police Department, and advocating for the military funeral of a Vietnam vet is not exactly in his job description. But being a veteran himself and coming from a family who served in the military seemingly gave Entrekin a sort of kinship with this vet who died in a lonely hotel room on a January night.

“No man left behind,” Entrekin said while explaining why he chose to make sure Garrad receive a proper burial.

It is this sense of duty, of honoring those who have gone before and the selfless act of helping a fellow soldier he never met, that brought the TV cameras and reporters to the veteran’s cemetery Thursday to see Entrekin and a group of veterans take the time to honor that sense of duty and see a fallen soldier to his final resting place.

It has been a difficult past year for police forces across the nation. We have heard there are “bad apples” among our nation’s police forces. That has certainly been borne out by what we have seen with our own eyes and will be reenforced this week in a Minneapolis courtroom.

But in Farmville, it was good to hear the story of Detective Entrekin and how he went above and beyond the call of duty to honor a fellow veteran and how Chief Ellington gave full support to Entrekin’s efforts.

Detective Entrekin’s actions reenforce the fact that there are great men who put their lives on the line to protect us every day who care about their fellow man and just want to do the right thing. The good apples still far outnumber the bad in our police forces.

This is the very best policing — caring about fellow humans. Entrekin’s actions provided a perfect demonstration of what is good and right about our community and the men and women of the Farmville Police Department.

In our community just this past year, we have seen Thomas Varner, a member of the Farmville Volunteer Fire Department, jump in a kayak during a flood to rescue a kayaker in distress. We have also heard the story of two public works employees, Ed Elliott and Dwayne Scott, along with Wade Stimpson and Rhodes Martin, who were playing tennis nearby, work together to save a family from a house fire on a December morning. We have also seen hundreds of volunteers pull together to help keep citizens fed and warm during the extended power outages in February.

We are blessed to live in a community where going above and beyond the call of duty is just doing the right thing.

May we all, like Detective Entrekin, continue to do the right thing.

ROGER WATSON is editor for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. His email address is Roger.Watson@FarmvilleHerald.com.