ROCKWELL CITY - Jamie Buenting was an avid outdoorsman and hunter, a role model, and a devoted husband. He was also, according to his young daughter, everything you could ask for in a father.
"Dear Daddy: Thank you Lord for taking care of my Daddy," said Kalie Buenting, who had written a letter to her father that she read during his funeral. "He was the best ever. Make sure he gets the best place in heaven. I love you Daddy. Love, Kalie."
Law enforcement officers from all over the state gathered in Rockwell City Tuesday afternoon to honor Jamie Buenting. An eight-year veteran of the Rockwell City Police Department, Buenting died early Sept. 13 as he and other law enforcement officers attempted to enter a house to arrest Corey Trott, 32, who was wanted on an outstanding warrant for assault.
As his fellow officers salute, slain Rockwell City Police Officer Jamie Buenting is carried to the graveside service at Rosehill Cemetery in Rockwell City Tuesday afternoon.
Officers came from as far as Des Moines, Davenport, Council Bluffs and Omaha to pay tribute. It took about 30 minutes for all the officers to file into the South Central Calhoun Middle School gymnasium in Rockwell City, flanked by an honor guard from multiple departments. The bleachers were packed from end to end, chairs on the gym floor were completely filled, and well-wishers filled a sizable overflow area outside the gym.
The Patriot Guard Riders lined both sides of the sidewalk outside, holding American flags. Inside the foyer, Boy Scouts continued the line.
Jamie Buenting's wife, Mandy Buenting, expressed her thanks for the support.
"He'd be absolutely amazed at everyone here today," she said.
"Our world was very fortunate to have you standing by, to protect no matter what it took, to lay your life on the line, until you died," she said, reading from a poem she had written. "Forever I will be so proud of what you did that day, to protect and serve, and give your all in the most courageous way.
"These memories I shall cherish. I wish there were even more. To you my dearest husband, the one that I adore."
Close family friend Kyle Oswald spoke of Jamie's great moral character.
"Jamie is an individual that is what every child believes a police officer should be. One that every adult wants a police officer to be, because he treated everyone with dignity and respect and honor at all times."
Oswald remembered Jamie's constant smile, and seemingly endless reserve of energy. He could be up until 2 or 3 in the morning, Oswald said, and still want to go out hunting bright and early.
Regardless of his finances, that Jamie was "rich" was obvious, because of all the people who came, Oswald said. Then he asked, why was Jamie so rich, and why did it hurt so much that he was gone?
"We're hurting because Jamie was so rich, and he was so rich because he showed us he cared," Oswald said. "The way Jamie lived his life leaves a challenge for all of us.
"I believe in Jesus, and all he did. I've never met the man. But I met a man who was my friend who showed me what it's like to live like Christ."
Jamie Buenting truly lived by the policeman's oath "to serve and protect," said the Rev. Owen Englin as he delivered the eulogy.
"He gave his life fulfilling his oath," Englin said.
"Heather describes her little brother as a bit of an adrenaline junkie. Always looking for adventure," he said. "Jamie grew up saying he would be on one side of the law or the other. And I think we're all better off that he chose the right side."
Following the service, a convoy of more than 300 police cars followed the hearse on a 28-mile procession which circled back to Rosehill Cemetery. There, two members of the Des Moines Police Department Mounted Patrol led Jamie Buenting's riderless horse, Sundance, down the road ahead of the procession.
In a statement released before the funeral, the Buenting family asked for grace for Trott's family. Trott faces a first-degree murder charge and is currently at the Sac County Jail.
"We hold one person responsible for Jamie's death, and that person is in police custody," the family's statement said. "We hold no ill will towards the offender's family. There are people, including children, in his family who are hurting as well."
Englin said Jamie would encourage all to love each other.
"As painful and tragic a loss as we have all suffered, we must remember there is another family also grieving the actions of their son, brother and uncle. Jamie's family wants you to know that he would want us to forgive," Englin said. "He would want us to extend grace and show love, because he died protecting them too."