ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - A Rowan County Sheriff’s deputy got the surprise of a lifetime on Wednesday. The father of Deputy Travis James was also a deputy, and he died in the line of duty in 2003 while rushing to help a domestic violence victim in Wake County.
On Wednesday, an unexpected reunion created a new way for Deputy James to remember his father.
When Deputy James was called and told to come to the office, he didn’t know what was happening.
“At first I thought I was really in trouble," James joked.
He noticed that his wife and young daughter were in the room, along with his entire patrol team, command staff, and the media. He also noticed a man from his past. Sgt. J.L. Clayton is from the Wake County Sheriff’s Department, but in 2003 his partner was Deputy James father William Franklin James, II. Responding one night to a domestic violence call, Frank James died in a car crash.
“I just wanted you to know that I told your dad that I loved him and I held him until help got there," an emotional Sgt. Clayton told Deputy James.
Travis James was only a young boy when his father died.
The main reason Sgt. Clayton came to Salisbury was to bring a surprise for Travis. It’s was a shadowbox with Frank James original wallet badge and i.d. It’s the badge the deputy was carrying when he died.
“It says Deputy Sheriff William Franklin James, 9/5/03, Wake County Sheriff’s Office, end of watch," Clayton added. “I’ve always had Frank in my heart for the times that we spent out there on patrol together and when this was brought up to me it was just immediately something that I knew that I had to get to his son.”
“It’s just a huge surprise and amazing and I really appreciate it," Travis James said. "It’s a major honor for me to know that he made Wake County proud, he did good, and I have the opportunity to be here at Rowan County, and hopefully make them proud as well.”
Deputy James said he wanted to be in law enforcement even before the death of his father. He held on to that dream and has been with the Rowan Sheriff’s Office since August.
Lt. Carmon Williams of the Rowan Sheriff’s Office helped to arrange the special reunion and presentation.