LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- They represent police departments at some of their darkest times. Police honor guards are made up of those who perform the difficult task of honoring a fellow officer who has died in the line of duty.
Aug. 19, 2020, a summer of pandemic misery was briefly interrupted by the sad duty of honoring fallen Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Lt. Erik Lloyd.
Roughly six in ten police deaths last year were from COVID-19, and that's what claimed the 30-year veteran of the department.
In a season of social distancing, Metro's honor guard could not keep theirs. Duty compelled them to do their job, carrying Lloyd's casket and providing comfort to his wife Minddie, the couple's two daughters and five grandchildren.
"It's just nice to know that the fellowship, the brotherhood, that his agency hasn't forgotten him and then of course the survivors, meaning me and my family and my children," she said.
Officer Calvin Wandick and Sergeant Brian Leahy serve on Metro's honor guard. They are two of 28 volunteers.
"You're so focused on the task at hand. You don't have the luxury to think about how it's affecting you emotionally. You go home and talk to your loved ones. You talk to your fellow honor guard members but at the moment you have to deliver," said Leahy.
Wandick, Leahy and honor guards from all four Southern Nevada police departments traveled to Washington, D.C. earlier this month for police weekend, a time to honor the fallen and embrace their families.
They escorted Lloyd and her family in to the National Mall for a candlelight vigil to honor her husband and hundreds of other police officers who died in 2019 and 2020. Before they left for dc, they shared why this trip to the Capitol was so important for them.
"It's a little bit of sadness because you're remembering your fallen friends or your hearing the stories from around the nation but at the same time it's empowering," said Leahy.
"You actually get to meet some of the family members of the officers who were killed in the line of duty ... and they tell you their story about the officer themselves, when I've never met this officer one day of my life ... but it's so honorable and interesting to know this officer," said Wandick. "It makes you feel human again, it humbles you."
The names of 22,611 officers have been added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
For Lloyd, the experience was surreal. She said she would often go with her husband to learn how to counsel other spouses and families. Now it's her on the other end, seeing her husband's name on the memorial.
"The emotion, it's validating the loss, because you can't believe his name is really up there. When you see the wall, you know the wall is just an unfinished project, because you know there are other names that will be planted on there," she said. "I don't envy the honor guard right now, because as you see that wall, there are many other officers that are going to die. And they do that job and the honor guard, the respect that they give them, there's no words but they are there for you and the family and they stay with you."
There are lighter moments for the honor guard, they also present colors at Metro Police Academy graduations and will do the same at next week's SEMA convention.
Lloyd is the project director of the Injured Police Officers Fund, an organization that financially and emotionally supports families of fallen and injured officers.
Her husband was the president of the organization until his death last year.