US Honor Flag case honors fallen Topeka police officer
By LUKE RANKER
Sep. 14, 2018
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — It is a plain box, black with an industrial look, but what it carries and who it honors holds real importance.
Named HarwoodONE, the case protects the U.S. Honor Flag, a single American flag that crosses the country to honor fallen law enforcement officers, military service members and others. It bears the name of Jason Harwood, a Topeka police corporal who died in the line of duty. On Sept. 7, the fourth anniversary of Harwood's death, the case received a major upgrade.
The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that a new case, embellished with a painting of an honor guard officer holding the flag, was unveiled in the Kansas Statehouse rotunda to an audience that included law enforcement officers from across the state, Gov. Jeff Colyer and Chris Heisler, founder of the U.S. Honor Flag Association.
Jeremy Harwood, a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper and Jason Harwood's twin brother, worked with a Colorado artist and Heisler to design the new case. The crisp blue and bright white of the officer's painted uniform stands in contrast to the black case. The painting is meant to honor all fallen law enforcement officers and first responders, but will continue to honor Harwood in name as the "J.H. HarwoodONE by Jeremy."
"Words really can't describe the feeling," Jeremy Harwood said with emotion. "Inspiring, humbling, all the big words. They don't do it justice. It's just — really cool."
The reason the case honors Jason Harwood is special but "heartbreaking," said his mother, Becky LaFever.
Jason Harwood became the first officer to both hold the flag to honor fallen comrades and also be honored with it.
He died during what should have been a routine traffic stop.
At 4:42 p.m. Sept. 7, 2014, Jason Harwood pulled over a Ford Taurus in the 3200 block of S.E. 6th Ave. for speeding. The driver, Ross Lane, a convicted felon, pulled a handgun as Harwood approached. Lane shot the officer four times, three shots striking him in the neck and abdomen, and the fourth was deflected by a protective vest, according to testimony in Lane's trial. Lane pleaded guilty to killing Harwood in July 2015 and died in prison later that year.
Jason Harwood was a member of the police color guard during the funeral services of police Cpl. David Gogian, 50, and Officer Jeff Atherly, 29, who were fatally shot on Dec. 16, 2012, in a grocery store parking lot.
"I've experienced loss in the streets of Baghdad and I've experienced loss in the streets of Topeka," Topeka Police Chief Bill Cochran said. "We must never forget the sacrifice."
Jeremy Harwood now serves on Colyer's security detail. During remarks, the governor said the two had grown close.
"The U.S. Honor Flag is for all of us. It is for our families. It is for our country," Colyer said.
Jasmine Johnson, an artist from Grand Junction, Colo., painted the case with input from Jeremy Harwood and Heisler. The process took several weeks to finish and presented a challenge because of the unique characteristics of the flag case, she said.
Heisler said names of fallen heroes will now be etched on crystal inside the case, which along with the flag will be taken to Normandy, France, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com