Eldon Police will join with the Missouri State Highway Patrol in offering a slain law officer a hero's welcome home for his burial.
Former Eldon resident Thomas Olaf Madole was killed in the line of duty while working as a Village Public Safety Officer (VPSO) in rural Alaska.
The 54-year-old attended the Alaska State Troopers Academy later in life after a career in farming and as a pastor. He had worked as a VPSO for three years in Manokotak, a village with fewer than five hundred people almost 350 miles southwest of Anchorage near Bristol Bay.
On March 19th, Madole was found outside a house belonging to 42-year-old Leroy Dick. According to court documents, Dick admitted to shooting Madole after the officer came to talk to him about an assault allegation. Dick told state troopers he didn't remember how many times he fired his gun. He faces a charge for first-degree murder.
According to KTUU television , which cited court documents, Madole called troopers in Dillingham, about 25 miles northeast of Manokotak, shortly before 3:30 p.m. to say he was responding to a home where Dick was reportedly suicidal and had assaulted his stepfather. Madole was running away from the house when he was shot with a rifle. Troopers who responded to the shooting got Dick to surrender peacefully.
Despite his short time in the village, people there told reporters covering the case that Madole earned their respect quickly and he will not be forgotten.
As reported by the alaskadispatch.com , Melissa Paul, the village health aide in Manokotak, spoke at a memorial service Sunday and called Madole her hero.
Fighting back tears Paul told the crowd, "To our community, he's a family member, a friend, an adopted uncle, grandpa, and to many, a brother in Christ." She spoke of his contagious laughter, and how he always greeted people with a smile.
The paper also spoke with Bill Welch, superintendent at the Assembly of God.
Welch said Madole originally left mid-Missouri and came to the Last Frontier in 2000 because he "felt urged by God to inquire about churches without pastors in Alaska." That's when Welch and Madole first became friends. After six years of ministering in Bethel, Alaska his family moved to Wasilla. During that time, Madole battled cancer, and he eventually emerged with a clean bill of health.
Welch said that in 2010, Madole came to him saying that he had been praying about becoming a VPSO. "Honestly, I was a little puzzled," Welch said, and asked Madole why he would want to pursue this path, at his age, after his fight with cancer. Without hesitation, Madole replied, "To serve and help the people in the village."
More than one hundred people gathered at a memorial service Sunday at the first Assembly of God Church in Anchorage, among them Madole's wife, Luan Madole, and his adult children, Seth Madole and Mindy Lopez, as well as dozens of police officers and Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell.
During the service, Madole was honored with the Posting of the Colors ceremony by the Alaska State Troopers Color Guard, where troopers carried the Alaska and U.S. flags in procession to his casket, and all the law enforcement officers present gave Madole a salute, at both the beginning and end of the service.
Madole will also be honored with a Law Enforcement Purple Heart and a medal recognizing his bravery.
The community of Eldon hopes to give Madole a hero's burial as well. Mayor Ronald Bly helped to set up a police escort from the Kansas City International Airport, where Madole's body is arriving Tuesday afternoon, to Phillips Funeral home in Eldon. Bly says Missouri State Troopers will lead the way, followed by Eldon Police officers.
Visitation is scheduled for Friday, March 29, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Phillips Funeral Home. The funeral service is Saturday, March 30, at 2 p.m. at New Life Assembly of God Church in Barnett, Mo., with burial to follow at the Greenmore Memorial Gardens.
The funeral home's website indicates that per the family's request, gifts being given in memory of Madole may be given In Care of the Family.
A fund has also been set up for the family by the Alaska Concerns of Police Survivors. It's at Wells Fargo Bank. Donations can be made to any branch to the Thomas Madole Memorial Fund and will go directly to his family. The account number is 1018259240.