ROBERTSDALE, Ala. (WALA) -- It was a hero's goodbye to Baldwin County Sheriff's Deputy William "Bill" Smith -- who gave his life to save swimmers in distress on Fort Morgan last Sunday.
"Bill lived his life serving others and gave the ultimate sacrifice. He gave his life to save another," said Chaplain Joe Aldrete.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers attended his funeral Saturday at the Baldwin County Coliseum in Robertsdale. By all accounts -- Deputy Smith was destined to a life of public service -- riding along with his father on fire calls at the age of 15.
"Bill Smith was a public servant. He was sold out to public service -- in every way, every day. Any way," Sheriff Hoss Mack told the crowd.
Remembered as a warrior in life and death -- those who knew him best will tell you Deputy Smith gave 150 percent not only on the job but also at home.
"And I have to say while this is a sad time for all of us... If Bill would have scripted his passing... He would have scripted it just like this. It would have been responding to a hot call charging in and saving lives and for that we are grateful," said Weaver, AL Mayor Wayne Willis, lifelong friend.
"We need more men and women like Bill Smith --- he made the world more safe. He made our world more human. And he certainly had a fantastic sense of humor," said Retired Lt. Colonel Ron LaGrone, United States Army.
"When bill spoke about his family -- he spoke like a man should with reverance, with love, and admiration. As you guys know Bill was all in all the time -- he was committed," said Lt. Jason Woodruff, Gulf Shores Police.
"The quote -- 'working for a cause and not an applause' -- pretty much sums up what Bill thought about working in his professions," said Command Sgt. Nate Harris, Gulf Shores Police.
His wife Samantha was presented with a flag. Outside there was 21 gun-salute and Taps recognizing the hero who put all on the line.
Even before Deputy Smith's final ride home -- complete strangers lined Highway 59 early -- even standing in the pouring rain to pay their respects.
"I actually never met him, but he's a hero in our eyes," said Linda & Harold Thomsen, Robertsdale.
"I want to say thank you to him... And may God take him in his hands today," said Gavin Brannon, Robertsdale.
And as the rain came down -- Deputy Smith's final call came in over the radio:
"Station 5 to all units. B-105 is 10-7. End of watch: Sunday June 6, 2021. Your brothers and sisters have it from here. Rest in peace."
Deputy Smith was an organ donor. He leaves behind his wife Samantha of nearly 32 years and two sons -- Bo and Jake.