She once stood with the members of Atlanta Police Department's honor guard, paying respect to those who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. But Senior Patrol Officer Gail Thomas, who was killed on the job Tuesday, was the one receiving the honors Sunday.
The fallen officer's aunt, her best friend and her daughter watched with tears and pride during a ceremony at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
"She deserves it," said Thomas' daughter Jasmine Sherman. "She deserves everything she's been given. She died a hero."
A jet arrived at the airport under an arc of water, carrying an honor flag that's been displayed at thousands of police, fire and military funerals.
Deputy Chief Renee Propes said it was a fitting tribute for the 15-year veteran. Police said she was hit and killed by a drunken driver while responding to a wreck on Interstate 75.
"This flag flew at ground zero after 9/11 and now this flag travels around the country to different funerals in honor of people who have made sacrifice for this country," Propes said.
Just before the ceremony, dozens of people stopped to pay tribute at Thomas' visitation.
"I know she's in a better place. She's smiling and she did her job," said friend Kathy Taylor.
It was a job that she loved as much as her fellow officers and family loved her.
"I'm proud of you. I miss you. I’ll always love you forever and ever," said Sherman.
A long line of police cars surrounded Thomas' home Austell Sunday night.
It was Cobb County Police Officer Tyler Selvia's idea to pay respects with dozens of squad cars from Cobb County, Powder Springs and APD.
"I can't imagine what they're going through," Selvia said. "They're going to have a hard day tomorrow and my idea was just to rally around them."
Thomas will be laid to rest Monday morning. Her funeral is set for 11am at Elizabeth Baptist Church. Her burial will follow at Mount Harmony Cemetery in Mableton.