Thousands Remember Fallen LAPD Officer Killed in Afghanistan
Emily Cottle, left, the widow of LAPD SWAT Officer and Marine Sgt. Maj. Robert J. Cottle, holds her 9-month-old daughter Tuesday in Los Angeles while standing beside Police Chief Charlie Beck at the funeral procession for her husband. (AP Photo/Jason Redm
April 14, 2010
LOS ANGELES—A police SWAT officer and Marine reservist killed in Afghanistan was honored Tuesday as hundreds of LAPD officers and Marines accompanied his flag-draped coffin through the streets to his memorial service.
As bagpipes moaned, a mule-drawn wagon carrying the body of Robert James Cottle rolled from downtown police headquarters to the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Streets were closed and dozens of bus lines were detoured.
Cottle, 42, of Yorba Linda, was killed along with another Marine on March 24 when their armored vehicle struck a road bomb in southern Afghanistan. Cottle was the first LAPD officer on active duty to die in combat in Afghanistan.
“I don’t know why God takes the good ones,” retired LAPD Officer Ulysses, who attended the service, told KTLA-TV. “But he needed a great Marine, he needed a great SWAT team operator, and he needed a great man.”
At least 2,500 people attended the service, many of them police officers. Cottle’s sister, Bonnie Roybal, began the 90-minute service by singing the national anthem.
“What he would want us to remember is that he died doing what he loved, being a Marine and serving his country,” Dan Skinner, a friend and retired SWAT teammate of Cottle’s, said during the eulogy.
During the service, which was led by a police chaplain, Cottle was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. Later, Marines gave Cottle a rifle volley and a bugler played “Taps” in the cathedral plaza.
Police Chief Charlie Beck stood with Cottle’s widow, Emily, and 9-month-old daughter, Kaila Jane. He presented them with the flag from his casket.
Beck, who knew Cottle for two decades, called him a “fallen hero.”
“A bar could be set no higher,” Beck said during the service. He urged other police officers and Marines to consider Cottle an inspiration and do their best “out of a desire to protect those who cannot protect themselves.”
Cottle joined the LAPD in 1990 and won a position with the elite Special Weapons and Tactics team in 1996.
The Marine reserve sergeant major served two previous tours in Afghanistan and voluntarily returned there in August.
Also killed were Lance Cpl. Rick. J. Centanni, 19, of Yorba Linda. Two other Marines were seriously injured.
Cottle and Centanni were stationed with the 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, out of Camp Pendleton, in southern Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Cottle will be buried Friday at Arlington National Cemetery.
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