On a crystal clear day, American flags blowing in a persistent breeze, family, friends, even complete strangers gathered at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery to pay final respects to Capt. John Gaffaney.
As Amazing Grace was played on bagpipe, Gaffaney's flag draped coffin was carried to his final resting place. The flag was presented to his wife during the solemn service.
The gathering stood in stoic silence as an honor guard fired off a 21-gun salute.
"This would have been exactly what John wanted," said Jennifer Bransford-Coons, a co-worker. "Very simple, very military. He loved his country, loved his family. He loved us all and this is exactly what he would have wanted. And it makes me really happy that he's smiling down on us today."
Gaffaney was remembered as a man who was tough on the inside but always compassionate on the outside. He worked for Adult Protective Services with the San Diego County Health and Human Services Dept. The psychiatric nurse, who worked with the elderly, was preparing for a one year deployment to Iraq while at Ft. Hood.
"He was a nurse by profession, but he had a social worker heart and that's a rare combination," said Pam Smith, another co-worker. "I've never met anybody that worked with John who didn't hold him in high regard, so it's a really hard day.”
Gaffaney's co-workers say he leaves behind a legacy of professionalism and caring, and was a true patriot.
"He was always looking for a way to help people, always looking for a way to make things better," said Bransford-Coons.