Family of slain Rockwell City, IA police officer share memories - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Family of slain Rockwell City, IA police officer share memories of their fallen hero

Buenting Family Buenting Family

ROCKWELL CITY, Iowa (KTIV) - This week, the eyes of a grateful nation turn to Washington, D.C. as law enforcers honor hundreds of their own, who have died in the line of duty.

Among them, Rockwell City police officer Jamie Buenting, who was shot, and killed, in September.

The last eight months have been hard on his wife, Mandy.

But, she's found support to give her strength.

Mandy Buenting loves horses. She owns two. Her husband, Jamie, loved Mandy, so he loved horses, too. Riding them was another story.

Mandy Buenting, Widow said, "What's the hardest thing about riding a horse? The ground."

That was Jamie's running joke. Still, he rode. And, his sense of humor always came with him.

Mandy Buenting, Widow said, "We come up to a pasture, near Brushy Creek, I said, 'if you don't want to run tell me because I have to hold my horse back.' And, he said 'no, it's okay, we can run. I'll hold on.' We're on our two separate horses, and we race across the pasture as fast as the horses can take us to the other side. We slow down, and Jamie's face is just glowing pink, He has a smile ear-to-ear. And, he says 'that was just awesome! I could feel the wind blowing through my hat!' He was bald. He had no hair."

Those memories are bittersweet. Jamie, a Rockwell City police officer, died in the line of duty, eight months ago.

Mandy Buenting, Widow said, "I think, a lot of times, it's hard to stand on your own two feet when you lose that person that you love that much."

Jamie wasn't just a husband. He was a father, too. Mandy says she sees a lot of Jamie in 9-year-old Ethan.

Mandy Buenting, Widow said, "My son has his smile, and his laugh."

And 8-year-old Kalie.

Mandy Buenting, Widow said, "My daughter has his sense of humor."

Mandy Buenting, Widow said, "It makes me feel like I still have a piece of him with me."

But, Jamie's loss, which Mandy still feels every day, hit the family hard.

Mandy Buenting, Widow said, "From the minute I needed them, they were there."

They are the wives of the men who served alongside Jamie on the "Special Emergency Response Team."

Mandy Buenting, Widow said, "These women all have husbands, who put their lives on he line every day. And, I just felt a connection like they understood me."

Lacee McLaren's husband, Don, is on the SERT team.

Matt Breen, Reporting, "What's she like?" Lacee McLaren, Friend said, "Tough."

But, Lacee didn't know how tough until she met Mandy. It was the day before Jamie's funeral.

Lacee McLaren, Friend said, "My husband introduced me to her. And, the first thing she said to me was, 'this must be so hard for you.' I'm not speechless often, but I couldn't get words out. The whole way to the car. I looked at my husband, and I said, 'she said this must be tough for me.' That just blew me away. And, from them on, I knew being around her, and being around her family was something that I wanted to do."

Cathy Voith's husband, Shane, was one of the officers that recruited Jamie to the SERT team.

Cathy Voith, Friend said, "If I was put in her shoes, I don't think that I would be able to handle the situation as well as she has."

But, if you ask Mandy, her strength comes from them.

Mandy Buenting, Widow said, "I don't think I could have made it without them. They talk about how strong I am, and the strength that I've shown. They don't realize they are my strength."

She's had to be strong. Like her horses racing across that pasture. And though those memories won't ever go away, time has made them easier to remember.

Mandy Buenting, Widow said, "I look forward to the day when I can look back and smile at all of the memories that we have, and watch his children grow."

Looking forward to a bright future, and not glancing back at one very dark day.

This week, Jamie Buenting's name will be engraved on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.

CLICK here to watch the 26th Annual Candlelight Vigil, honoring the 286 officers whose names are being added to the Memorial this year.

And, KTIV's Matt Breen will be there.

Tuesday, he's with the Buenting family in our nation's capitol as Buenting is honored for his service, and his sacrifice.

Matt's series of special reports, from Washington, D.C., starts Tuesday on "News 4 at Ten."

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattBreenKTIV.

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