Georgia State Patrol bagpiper reflects on his role with Honor Guard

Dan Bray gives back through bagpipes

Dan Bray is a face you'd probably recognize from around Central Georgia.

He is the Georgia State Patrol's only honor guard bagpiper, so he performs at parades, graduations, and other formal ceremonies.

But when an officer dies in the line of duty, oftentimes it's Dan that's there to provide comfort one note at a time.

"It's a great honor to give back especially in a time of need," Dan said.

And we've seen Bray give back a lot during the last couple of years.

He's always there in the service of a slain officer -- in the churches, by the hearse, at the graveside, filling the air with Celtic comfort.

Captain Allen Marlowe says he receives letters from families thanking the Georgia State Patrol for Dan's services. It's a soothing addition that not everyone can experience.

"I can tell you, with the state police organizations up north, it's pretty common to have pipers, but for the southern states, I think we're very lucky to have him. I don't know of any other southern states that have their own bagpipers, so I feel very fortunate," Captain Marlowe said.

Dan says he's the one that's blessed.

He fell in love with the bagpipes early, but his calling revealed itself decades down the road.

"As a child, I guess five or six years old, I was like, 'Yes, that's what I want to do,' but the purpose came later and how it integrated into my chosen career," Dan said.

Unlike other honor guard members, Dan doesn't go out on patrol -- his instrument is his full-time job.

"He has about 200 events a year," Captain Marlowe said.  "He doesn't ever want to tell anyone no."

They're not all funerals, but when the time comes for him to accompany a fallen comrade, Dan can't help but feel the emotion, the grief felt by so many.

"Oh, my heart goes out to them. I'm trying to reach them with everything I've got to offer that comfort and get them through that time," Dan explained. "Personally, I'm trying to be as strong as I can be to be strong for them, and not just the families, but the fellow workers and the fellow officers and the fellow community."

He's 57. 

"I'm no spring chicken," Dan chuckled.

Maybe not, but he won't let age quiet his passion for helping others.

Bray plays the bagpipes at graduations, parades, and other state functions.

 Friday, he played for Governor Deal at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center.

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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