America laid to rest
By By Adam Prestridge
Hundreds of law enforcement officers paid their final respects to Escambia County Sheriff’s Major Tommy America Saturday as he was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Atmore.
America passed away June 23 at his home surrounded by family and friends following a lengthy battle with cancer. His wife, Audrey, recalled Monday their final days together including America’s final minutes.
The procession to the cemetery following America’s funeral service at Greater Mt. Triumph Missionary Baptist Church stopped traffic on Hwy. 21 for more than 15 minutes as family, friends and fellow peace officers honored their fallen comrade. Atmore residents, young and old alike, sat in lawn chairs across from the entrance to the cemetery to pay their respects to America, who managed the west-end substation in town.
America received full honors as members of the Escambia County, Fla. and Santa Rosa County, Fla. honor guards placed his flag-draped casket at his grave followed by a 21-gun salute. Dispatchers then cleared the airways for Sheriff Grover Smith to radio America’s call number ES3 one last time and announce him as 10-42, code for “ending tour of duty.”
The honor guard then folded America’s flag and Smith presented it to Audrey America.
Even though she was taken back by the outpouring of love for her husband, Audrey America said he was definitely worthy of it.
Escambia County Sheriff Grover Smith expressed the same sentiments, adding that Major America would be deeply missed.
According to family, America’s cancer reoccurred in 2006. He underwent surgery in 2007 and had been on a new cancer medication for a year.
In January of this year, doctors noticed that a couple of spots had not shrunk on America’s liver, so in February he started chemotherapy. On April 30, following a few months of chemo, he began taking a pill form of chemotherapy, but the drug did not seem to work.
Although the cancer had come back, family and friends were still shocked by America’s sudden death. In fact, he worked five days prior to dying.
Audrey America said though it has only been a week since she lost her husband, she often catches herself looking at her watch, waiting for her man in uniform to come home.
Knowing that her husband is in a better place comforts Audrey America. She said she will miss the “simple things” about her husband.