More detail on this person: Paul Almer: CASEY, MOURNERS ATTEND VIEWING OF STATE
Gov. Robert P. Casey joined about 500 mourners in Bethlehem yesterday at the viewing of a Pennsylvania State Police helicopter pilot killed in a crash last week.
A steady stream of uniformed policemen, friends and colleagues of Cpl. Paul Almer attended the afternoon and evening calling hours at the Connell Funeral Home. Almer will be buried with full military honors later today at Fort Indiantown Gap after a funeral and Mass in Bethlehem.
The 39-year-old Bethlehem native was one of two state policemen who died when their helicopter crashed into the Susquehanna River on Wednesday while searching for a suicide victim. The aircraft apparently became tangled in power lines, investigators said. Also killed was Trooper Wayne D. Bilheimer, a native of Catasauqua.
The quiet sounds of Crosby, Stills Nash and Young, the Beatles and other '60s-era music filled the funeral home at the request of Almer's fiancee, Linda Murphy of West Chester. The ring that was to be his wedding ring was on his finger.
Photographs of Almer's personal life and his aviation career, along with several of his hats, were displayed among the dozens of floral arrangements at the funeral home. There was also a framed copy of a front page article and photo in a Lancaster newspaper about Almer's compassionate effort in 1980 to find homes for a litter of heat-stricken puppies.
Casey kneeled at the open casket, then spoke briefly with Almer's mother and family members before completing his short visit. He was joined at the casket by state Reps. William Rybak, D-135th District, and Paul McHale, D- 133rd, and by Bethlehem mayoral candidate Paul Marcincin.
An honor guard of two black-gloved state troopers stood at the casket while mourners filed past. Almer was dressed in his state police uniform and his National Guard uniform was displayed at the foot of the casket.
Policemen will gather early today at the state police barracks in Bethlehem before driving their cruisers to the funeral home for the 9:15 a.m. service. The police will stand in formation on Broad Street when the casket is carried out of the funeral home. After a Mass of Christian Burial in Notre Dame of Bethlehem Catholic Church, a procession will drive to the military cemetery at Fort Indiantown Gap for the burial.
Almer, of Smoketown, Lancaster County, was a major in the Pennsylvania National Guard. He commanded a helicopter unit at Fort Indiantown Gap. He served two tours as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. He enlisted in the state police in 1975, was promoted to corporal in 1985, and was accepted into the aviation division the next year.
Bilheimer, a criminal investigator assigned to the Lancaster area, was buried in Mechanic Grove on Saturday after services attended by 300 police officers from eight states. The 44-year-old Catasauqua High School graduate and father of two was killed during his first ride in the state police helicopter.
Morning Call, The (Allentown, PA) - Monday, April 17, 1989
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