Naval pallbearers dressed in formal whites carried the casket of athletic director turned hero, Chris Hixon, Wednesday to the sounds of “Amazing Grace” being played on bagpipes.
Hixon was one of the 17 people killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida last week.
He was the athletic director and wrestling coach at the high school, and a Navy veteran with 27 years of service and two deployments to the Persian Gulf under his belt, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Hixon was remembered during a 75-minute funeral mass at Nativity Catholic Church in Hollywood, Florida, on Wednesday before his burial at South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth, where he received Military Funeral Honors.
Hixon has been hailed as a hero for his actions during the shooting. As soon as he realized there was an active shooter in the school, he got into his golf cart and rushed to the scene, putting himself in the line of fire to protect students.
During Wednesday’s funeral mass, hundreds of Douglas students as well as Hixon’s family and members of the Broward County community remembered Hixon for his generosity, selflessness and mentorship.
“He was not a celebrity, but he was a hero and a role model,” said Archbishop Thomas Wenski. “And he was a hero long before last Wednesday. He served his country, there was his devotion to his family and the care of his students. We weep and the Hixon family grieves. We grieve with them.”
Hixon’s funeral was followed by services for other shooting victims, including the school’s assistant football coach and several students.
Hixon was 49 at the time of his death. He would have turned 50 this Sunday.