Slain officer, car dealer honored by Red Cross
March 26, 2014
Rockwell City police officer Jamie Buenting, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in September, received a Red Cross Hero award. Accepting on his behalf are his wife, Mandy, and children, Kalie, 8, and Ethan, 10.
Red Cross Resource Officer Bob Kirschbaum (left), Mandy Buenting (back center) and board chairman Merle Chamberlain with Kalie and Ethan Buenting.
The American Red Cross Heroes of the Heartland program recognizes ordinary people for extraordinary acts.
But at Tuesday's award luncheon in Fort Dodge, one honoree was notably absent.
Rockwell City police officer Jamie Buenting was shot and killed in the line of duty last September. Accepting the award on his behalf were his wife, Mandy, 10-year-old son, Ethan, and 8-year-old daughter, Kalie.
Every person in the banquet room at Willow Ridge Golf Course stood in respect as the family made its way to the front of the room.
Buenting was nominated for the Hero award by Shawn Schossow, who recalled Buenting, badge number 13-24, as both a mentor and a friend.
According to the nomination letter submitted by Schossow, Buenting nurtured his interest in joining law enforcement, taking Schossow to the shooting range to observe Buenting's tactical response training. He also helped Schossow plant more than 20 trees at the shooting range - an eventual windbreak - to earn his Boy Scout Eagle Award.
On Tuesday, Schossow cited selflessness as Buenting's most-enduring quality.
"He was a very caring individual - a great dad, husband, officer," agreed Rockwell City police officer Larry Schoop, who served with Buenting and attended Tuesday's event.
Fort Dodge morning radio host, and sister-in-law to the fallen officer, Natha Bratland, served as one of the emcees for the event. Bratland said it was fitting that the award focused on Buenting's actions in life as opposed to his death.
Buenting's wife said his family was very proud of him and thankful for the honor, adding that it came as a surprise.
"Shawn is somebody who meant a lot to Jamie," she said. "Shawn always wanted to be a police officer, and Jamie took him under his wing. He always had time for young boys who wanted to hunt, fish or learn about law enforcement."
Mandy said the family is also very grateful for the outpouring of support from the community, recognizing Buenting not only as an officer, but as a father, husband, friend, son, brother and uncle.
His tactical teammates have also stayed by her side, she said. They have taken Ethan hunting, and the whole team will be escorting Kalie to her father-daughter dance in April.
"They really want to make sure I don't feel alone," she said. "It's nice to feel that I haven't lost that connection with Jamie."
Also receiving Heroes awards Tuesday afternoon were father and daughter-in-law Gus and Krissy Macke of Lake City for their efforts to help the Pierson family after they lost three of their four children and their granddaughter in a fire that also destroyed their home, for which they did not have any insurance.
Gus Macke, who owns Macke Motors in Lake City and Macke Ford in Coon Rapids, gave the couple and their remaining child a three-bedroom home in Lake City. Krissy sent a call out to local media for supplies and donations. The home was furnished in a number of hours.
"Those that know Gus know he's the most-generous person in Lake City," said Merle Chamberlain, who nominated the Mackes for the award.
Chamberlain described Macke as very involved in the community and the ideal person to organize the community's response to the tragedy.
"If it's happening, he's there," Chamberlain said.
Before the supply drive was over, more than $60,000 had been raised for the Piersons, with donations ranging from $1 to $1,000 coming in from across the country. Krissy worked late hours to complete the deposits.
"Our community pulls together," she said. "There were people who didn't have a lot, but they'd come to the dealership with something to give."
But Macke was able to offer more than supplies - he was able to give advice with a touch of empathy. He had lost one of his own children, a son, in a tragic car accident nearly 20 years before.
"They asked, 'What happens when all the people leave?' I told them it would get bad," he said.
He encouraged and helped them establish a trust fund for the donations, stressing the danger of abusing money in the aftermath of such an emotional tragedy.
But Macke was quick to eschew credit for his assistance.
The home given to the Piersons had been gifted to Father Robert Thiele many years earlier - the only rent that the priest say a blessing for Macke's son each day. When Thiele passed away, Macke cleared the furnishings out of the house - a task that was completed a mere three days before the house fire.
The decision was simple.
"There's good will everywhere," he said.
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