CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A horse-drawn caisson from the Butler County Sheriff’s Office will pull the casket of Colerain Township Officer Dale Woods to its final resting spot in Spring Grove Cemetery Monday, Sheriff Richard Jones said.
His office reached out to Colerain Township police and offered the use of their wagon, which was custom-made to replicate ones used to carry soldiers to their graves at Arlington National Cemetery. Police checked with the officer’s family, who approved, and then gratefully accepted.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to supply this to the officer and his family and all his comrades today. I hope it will bring them some closure,” Jones tells FOX19 NOW.
“The sad thing is he was killed in the line of duty protecting others. He was doing his job and we are going to honor him with one of the only ways we know to honor him - other than what’s been going on the last few days - with this over-100-year-old tradition of using the caisson for this service.
“When this caisson goes along, there won’t be a dry eye anywhere. It’s just a proud, solemn moment.”
Officer Woods will become the latest in more than 30 law enforcement and military personnel locally, statewide and nationally carried to their final resting spot by the sheriff’s caisson, according to Jones.
The sheriff is a history buff who enjoys reading and talking about wars. He can easily recite facts about the caisson, which is French for large chest.
Caissons were used to carry ammunition and to cart wounded soldiers and other military personnel off battlefields.
Jones even knows the first version of the official song of the U.S. Army by heart and can sing it at a moment’s notice.
“Over hill, over dale, as we hit the dusty trail, And those caissons go rolling along....”
We have seen them during televised funerals of U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
“It’s an honor to be carried out by a caisson,” Jones said.
The sheriff’s office acquired it in 2000 at a cost of $40,000, entirely paid for through private donations, and the caisson has been in steady use ever since, he said.
A private trainer volunteers the use of the horses used and will guide them Monday.
We last saw the sheriff’s caisson on Memorial Day at the funeral for a World War II sailor whose remains returned home nearly 75 years after he was killed in battle.
It also was used in Cincinnati Police Officer Sonny Kim’s graveside service at Our Gate of Heaven in June 2015, and to carry Warren County Sheriff’s Sgt. Brian Dulle to his grave site at Lebanon Cemetery in May 2011.
“The people who have been carried this this caisson are all heroes," Jones said. “It’s an honor to be able to provide this for them, their families and co-workers."