Constable Stephen Carroll was keen to reassure his concerned wife as he set off for what turned out to be his final shift.
Only days after two British soldiers were shot dead in Antrim town, the fun-loving 48-year-old knew his sweetheart Kate feared for his safety.
"Don't worry about me," he told her on the doorstep of their Banbridge home in Co Down.
"I'll be grand. They won't get me."
Within 12 hours, the long-serving office lay dead in the driver's seat of his unmarked silver Skoda police car.
A single rifle shot fired from a grassy bank 50 yards away had ripped through the head rest and killed him instantly.
Just minutes from clocking off for the night, he had been waiting while his colleagues called at a house in the Lismore Manor development in Craigavon after a brick was thrown through the front window.
It had been a trap laid by dissident republican gunmen in a bid to lure police to the scene.
Kate Carroll, a teacher in a local college, had been waiting up for her husband to get back from work. It was the couple's habit to share a cup of tea before retiring for the evening.
However instead she got the call at the door every police officer's partner dreads, telling her her husband had been killed in the line of duty.
A sports fanatic, Mr Carroll had served for 24 years.
The former decathlete, whose favourite event was the long jump, was two years away from retirement.
He was studying part-time for a sports science degree and had hoped to go into coaching after leaving the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Originally from Co Kildare in the Irish Republic he had moved to England as a child before returning to Ireland and settling in Co Down.
He had been preparing to celebrate his silver wedding anniversary with his wife. Instead she was left to face the future alone.
"A good husband has been taken away from me, and my life has been destroyed," she said in the wake of his death.
"And what for? A piece of land that my husband is only going to get six feet of."