CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A motorcade moves into the parking lot of Southside Church of the Nazarene, as Virginia State Police troopers stand at attention to honor a fallen comrade.
Inside, a crowd of mourners gathers to pay respects to Lt. Jay Cullen. The Trooper Pilot was killed in a helicopter crash on Saturday, August 12 while monitoring violent protests in Charlottesville.
“We come together in our grief acknowledging our human loss but also in the confidence that this day God will grant us grace,” Rev. Dr. Peter Moon of the Virginia United Methodist Conference said as he officiated the service.
As Cullen’s loved ones and first responders from 20 states listen attentively, the man who was passionate about family and flying is also remembered as a quiet leader.
Col. Steven Flaherty, the Virginia State Police Superintendent, said Cullen more often than not chose actions over words to serve.
“He listened more than he talked,” says Flaherty. “And when he did talk, when he did speak, it was so thoughtful. It was precise, it was relevant, it was meaningful.”
Flaherty says there is no place where Cullen would have rather been than Charlottesville last Saturday because he was that dedicated to public safety.
Cullen also flew the governor’s family for three and a half years.
In his remarks, Gov. Terry McAuliffe explains Cullen was a staple at Executive Mansion Christmas dinners.
“Without family, you don’t have anything,” McAuliffe said. “And today we lost a member of our family. Dorothy and I are heartbroken.”
The governor encourages everyone to do a good deed in Cullen’s memory.
Cullen leaves behind a wife and two sons, along with his mountain biking and law enforcement communities.
Flaherty says there are many lives Cullen touched.
“We can only aspire to be as good a leader husband, father, son, brother, friend, coach and neighbor as Jay Cullen,” he said. “We won’t say he WAS a Virginia State Police pilot because he IS a Virginia State Police pilot. And we’re never ever going to forget him.”