Family, Friends & Fellow Officers Remember...

Police Officer Robert Gray Vining

Columbus Police Department, Georgia

End of Watch Wednesday, April 21, 1976

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Reflections for Police Officer Robert Gray Vining

I was a Military Police Sergeant and Investigator at Ft Benning when I met Robert Vining almost 45 years ago. He was an old school Police Officer’s Police Officer. I vividly remember him being kidded because he would put his radio in his back pocket which would key the mike and everyone would hear his footsteps as he walked along.

I had a gunshot wound Feb. 1975 and spent almost a year in Martin Army Hospital. I moved back to Orlando and was admitted to the hospital here the day we lost Robert. I got the call as I was getting prepped for surgery. Sadly, I was unable to postpone or travel for the funeral. I’ve regretted that for 44 years.

I carry his memory in my heart with so many more at this time of my life. I will see ya again some day, big guy.

Roger D. Helms, Sgt
Retired US Army, Retired Attorney

May 1, 2020

As I sat here in my office and talk with your daughter Donna. I have nothing but the upmost respect for you. You are my hero in more than one way. I lost my father some time back as he was a great man and police officer in Columbia SC. The way your daughter sits here and speaks about you makes you a great father, a great police office, and even a better man. I wish I would have had the opportunity to meet you. You are truly my hero. Thank you for all you have done to make this a safer place. As a retired Command Sergeant Major I want to thank you. You have made the ultimate sacrifice in so many ways for me and so many other people. Thank you Sir.

Command Sergeant Major Green

July 16, 2019

Robert, I remember you often and always will. You were then and are today, a legend in the most positive way. You represented the profession and the department extraordinarily well and left a void that will never be filled . For all who read this, you were amazing , loved and respected. God bless your soul.......Richard

Richard A. Smith, former Detective,
Columbus Police Department

June 14, 2017

Gosh. Robert was a fine officer and person. Served with him 1971-1973. Seems as yesterday.

Retired Chief of Police Johnny Mccurry

February 6, 2016

Robert, God bless you and all you stood for. You are missed. You were then and are today a hero did not die in vain. You will never be forgotten.

Richard A. Smith
former CPD detective and colleague

April 10, 2015

Your heroism and service is honored today, the 36th anniversary of your death. Your memory lives and you continue to inspire. Thank you for your service. to your community as a police officer and to your country as a Vietnam vet. My cherished son Larry Lasater was a fellow police officer who was murdered in the line of duty on April 24, 2005 while serving as a Pittsburg, CA police officer.

Time never diminishes respect. Your memory will always be honored and revered.

I pray for solace for all those that love and remember you for I know both the pain and pride are forever. Your family is in my heart's embrace today. Thanks to your friends for sharing their memories and devotion to you through their reflections.
Rest In Peace.

Phyllis Loya
Mom of fallen California Officer Larry Lasater, Pittsburg PD, eow 4/24/05

April 23, 2012

Rest in Peace, Officer Vining. Your sacrifice is not forgotten.

Officer 11169

March 24, 2012

Another year has passed and you are still admired and respectfully remembered in the hearts and minds of so many. My thoughts and prayers are with your loved ones and friends on this anniversary of your EOW. You will never be forgotten.

James Sheppard
Father of Sgt. Jason L. Sheppard EOW 12/7/06

April 21, 2010

I was a police cadet when I first met Robert. To a 19 year old kid he had an ominous presence. He was the epitomy of professionalism. He was stern, disciplined and did everything by the book. His uniform was always crisp, his walk confident and his interaction with the public by the book..polite, respectful and clearly in charge. To every cadet he was one of the standards you had to meet. If Robert approved of you, the department knew it. Cadets were permitted to ride with patrol following their normal cadet shifts. I often rode with Robert and along the way I gained his approval. I observed first hand the compassion he had for the victimized, the restrained but clear disdain he held for those who preyed on the innocent. Above all, I learned how to survive. Robert was cautious but brave and undeterred. He insisted on getting the bad guy and more often than not he did. On that day in April 1976 we lost a gentleman, an outstanding police officer .....a true American hero. God bless his soul....

richard A. Smith
former Columbus Police Officer

April 8, 2010

I lived across the street from Mr. Vining and grew up with his kids, Gray, Sandy & Donna. I remember Mr. Vining going off to war in Viet Nam on I think 2 or 3 tours over there. I remember when he retired from the Army and went to work for the CPD, his wife, Pat, was so worried for him.

Mr. Vining was a tough guy and I remember having all the respect in the world for him. I remember a story about after he went to work for the CPD, he was off-duty, driving along in his old green 1948? Chevy 4 door 3 speed and he was passed by some kid driving way too fast. Mr. Vining chased him down in the old Chevy, badged him, and gave him what for including a ticket I think. That's the kind of guy he was, straight as an arrow.

When I was about 14, I got into some stupid kid trouble that involved Mr. Vining's property. Mr. Vining had the opportunity to really come down hard on me. Instead he drew me closer into his family and steered me in the right direction. This from a hard-nosed war veteran and cop...I've never forgotten it.

I enlisted in the Navy in 1972 and was stationed in San Francisco when Mr. Vining was killed. I received a message through the Red Cross to call my mom. I remember standing in the phone booth on the dock in Alameda and hearing my mother tell me how he died. I'll never forget the coldness and chill I felt as I cried.

The Vinings lost a great husband and father and we all lost a really good man.

Supv. Spec. Agent Howard Irvin Wilson
Immigration & Customs Enforcement

August 15, 2008

"The Badge"
He starts his shift each day
To respond to calls unknown.
He drives a marked patrol car.
A police officer he is known.
He's paid by the citizens' taxes
To make it safe on the streets.
But he usually has a second job
'Cause a waitress has his salary beat.
Now he doesn't know a holiday
'Cause he works all year round.
And when Thanksgiving and Christmas finally arrive
At his home he cannot be found.
He's cursed and assaulted often,
The one whos blood runs blue.
He seldom ever gets a thanks,
To some he's just a fool.
His friends are always other cops
'Cause people just don't understand
That underneath his badge and gun,
He's just another man.
He knows there might not be a tomorrow
In this world of drugs and crime.
And he gets so mad at the court system
'Cause the crooks don't get any time.
And each day when he leaves for work,
He prays to God above.
Please bring me home after my shift
So I can see the ones I love.
But tonight he stops a speeding car,
He's alone down this ole' highway.
It's just a little traffic infraction.
He does it everyday.
Well, he walks up to the driver's window,
And his badge is shining bright.
He asked the guy for a driver's license,
When a shot rang through the night.
Yes, the bullet hit its mark,
Striking the officer in the chest.
But the Department's budget didn't buy
Each officer a bullet-proof vest.
So he lay on the ground bleeding.
His blood wasn't blue - His blood was red.
And briefly he thought of his loved ones
'Cause in a moment the officer was dead.
In the news they told the story
Of how this officer had died.
And some who listened cared less,
But those who loved him cried.
Well, they buried him in uniform
With his badge pinned on his chest.
He even had his revolver,
He died doing his best.
Written By:
David L. Bell
Richland County Sheriff's Department
Columbia, South Carolina
Used with Special Permission of the Author
Copyright © 1999 - All Rights Reserved
and may not be duplicated without permission

Investigator David L Bell
Richland County Sheriff's Dept., Columbia, SC

October 8, 2007

Robert was I believe was my father's cousin. My father's name is Cosby Eugene Vining. We would go to visit my Uncle Robert and Aunt Pat when I was a young girl. I remember as a child playing with his children when we lived in Columbus, Georgia.

The thing I remember most about him was that I thought he was very tall and he had a red handle bar mustache.

He was a great officer and gave the ultimate sacrifice.

I will always remember him for the great man he was and the example he set for others.

Teri Lynne Vining Taylor

September 24, 2007

I served with Bob on the Columbus Police Dept.I will always remember him.Bob was a retired Army sgt before he came on the police dept.

Sgt Ret Bernerd Drury
Columbus Police Dept.

July 21, 2007

Although You Are Gone. You Will Never Be Forgotten.
I Love You Buddy

Richard D. Charo
Friend And Fellow Officer

June 1, 2007

I was a member of CPD when Bob was shot and killed, I soon there after moved to Florida and have since retired from the daytona Beach PD.
Bob was an honorable and good man, a friend and above all a damn good Cop
His memory wil always be honored by me

Joe Pizzimenti Retired
Former Columbus PD/Retired daytona Fla

September 21, 2006

May you Rest in Peace.

April 21, 2006

The policeman stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.

"Step forward now, policeman.
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To my church have you been true?"

The policeman squared his shoulders and said,
"No lord, I guess I ain't,
Because those of us who carry a badge
can't always be a saint."

I've had to work most Sundays,
and at times my talk was rough,
and sometimes I've been violent,
Because the streets are awfully tough.

But I never took a penny,
That wasn't mine to keep
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills got just too steep.

And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at time I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around
Except to calm their fear.

If you've a place for me here, Lord,
It needn't be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't I'll understand.

There was a silence all around the throne
Where the saints had often trod.
As the policeman waited quietly,
For the judgement of his god.

"Step forward now, policeman,
You've born your burdens well.
Come walk a beat on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in hell"


July 6, 2005

Thank you Sir. You are a true Hero.

Detective T. Henshaw
Bell Gardens Police Department, CA

April 21, 2004

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