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End of Watch, A Tribute to Sgt Terrence Carraway

Chief Master Sgt. Viviana Gatica Official photo

Chief Master Sgt. Viviana Gatica Official photo

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – On October 3, 2018, I received a frantic phone call from my very dear friend Mike, a brother in arms, telling me I needed to call him back immediately. I had just finished working out and when his phone rang, he hurriedly answered the phone and said, “Terrence is gone, V—they killed him.”

It took me a minute to realize what Mike was saying, and after repeating it several times, I finally understood what he was trying to get across. Just a few hours before, there had been an active shooter situation in Florence, South Carolina where several police officers were injured and one had died. The hero who laid down his life to protect others was our friend, Sergeant Terrence Carraway.

I met Terrence back in 2002 when we had the privilege to be honored as the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. He was the type of guy that lit up a room when he walked in, made everyone laugh and always made you feel at home.

After attending several temporary duties together, working congressional papers and making recommendations to improve our Air Force, we all became more than friends, we became family. We talked about reuniting the crew, but the best we pulled off was random visits amongst the 12 of us throughout the years.

Then October 3rd changed all of that. Mike’s call was followed by group messages that reconnected our 12 OAY family through tragedy. Mike shared how he had just spoken to Terrence a few days ago and was asking him when he was finally going to retire since he had served 23 years as a reservist and 30 years in the Florence Police Department. Brian and Carla talked about the time he made a tour bus stop in Washington D.C. so we could pay our respects to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial—a memorial that will now carry his name forever. Others jumped in to share stories of his life as a coach, friend, defender and a devoted man. The messages also poured in on his Facebook page as hundreds of people honored a man that had impacted their lives in the most profound way.

As our electronic chatter dwindled down, we said our goodbyes and exchanged updated phone numbers. The passing of my dear friend was a sobering reminder that nothing in life is guaranteed and tomorrow is not promised, that we need to make time in our always busy lives for those that matter, that life can change in an instant and we need to live in the moment and focus on the things that truly matter. The world can be a dark place and yet men and women choose to live their lives in service to others and that is a beautiful thing. Rest easy, Terrence. Your watch is over and your memory will live in the hearts and minds of all of us who had the privilege of calling you friend.