Some stood at attention on the sidewalk while others rumbled past on motorcycles that filled the streets for blocks on end.
They were all there for the same reason Friday: To express sorrow at the death of Cody Harter and to show appreciation for a life of service that ended all too quickly.
“I’m glad to see all the recognition,” said Nick Swope of St. Joseph, who rode in the funeral procession with Freedom of the Road Riders. “It says he was well-loved. The life he lived had to be good, and doing two tours, that was good.”
Harter was killed last Saturday following an altercation with another motorist near Interstate 470 in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Prosecutors have charged 58-year-old Nicholas M. Webb with second-degree murder.
The death led to an outpouring of grief and support in St. Joseph and Kansas City. Harter, who was from St. Joseph, was a member of the Missouri Air National Guard and served in both Iraq and Qatar and also provided hurricane relief closer to home. He owned his own lawn care business and was believed to be returning to St. Joseph with a new piece of equipment when he was fatally stabbed.
Swope estimated that 200 motorcycle riders from six different groups arrived to provide an honor guard for Harter’s funeral. He said he wanted to make sure there were no protests, which have occurred at military funerals in the past, but nothing of the sort materialized on Friday.
Another rider, U.S. Air Force veteran George Hill, said he hopes the turnout sent a strong message about community support.
“It’s just a shame something like that had to happen,” said Hill, who rides with Vietnam Vets/Legacy Vets and goes by the name “Buzzard.” “Don’t mess with the military.”
Funeral services were held at Word of Life Church. A military flyover served as another tribute to Harter.