Peoria Journal Star

June 9, 2005

Services are held for Bloomington FBI agent
SWAT team member died in training exercise


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Most of the FBI agents stationed in Illinois attended Wednesday's funeral of a Bloomington-based special agent, who died last week from injuries he received during advanced SWAT team training.

Robert R. Hardesty, 40, was severely injured when he fell from an airplane wing May 25 while practicing airplane entry techniques at the FBI's training facility in Quantico, Va. He died June 2.

Hardesty was married to Toni and had two daughters, Sydney and Carly. He was assigned to the FBI's Springfield division, but worked in a small satellite office in Bloomington for the past three years.

"Over the years, we've lost very few agents in the line of duty whether in adversarial action or something like this. So we don't have to do this very often," Marshall Stone, supervisory special agent in the FBI's Springfield office, said in a telephone interview as he waited for the funeral service to begin at Nativity of Our Savior Catholic Church in Portage, Ind., Hardesty's hometown.

More than 30 FBI vehicles were visible near the church plus vehicles belonging to numerous other law enforcement agencies, Stone said. The church and graveside services at Calvary Cemetery were to include a color guard, a 21-gun salute, "Taps" and bagpipes, Stone said.

Hardesty joined the FBI in December 2001 and became a member of the FBI SWAT team in 2003. Previously, Hardesty worked seven years for the Porter County, Ind., sheriff's police, where he held the rank of lieutenant and commanded the SWAT team. He also had worked for the Indiana State Police for seven years.

"People are coming out of the woodwork to make it known what contributions he's had over the years and how many people he's impacted in the places where he's worked. That's very comforting," said Stone. "We've gotten very good support from not only the FBI outside of our division, but other law enforcement agencies."

FBI agents travel frequently to Quantico, Va., for training, he said.

"Sometimes we forget about that - that it's not only when you're out on the streets working, there are other times when law enforcement is in danger," Stone said.

A memorial mass for Hardesty will be held at 7 p.m. June 15 at Epiphany Catholic Church in Normal.