“Their duty was to serve. Our duty is to remember.”
These powerful words are engraved on the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial located on the Capitol Campus in Olympia, WA. The granite monument that sits below of Temple of Justice is a lasting tribute to the law enforcement officers who have given their lives in the line of duty. It is a quiet space for friends, colleagues, and the families of the fallen to remember their loved ones. And on May 6th, it gave everyone a place to reflect on the sacrifices made to help keep out great state safe.
It was a clear day, with the Olympic Mountains peaking above the Sound, as law enforcement officers from all over the state and British Columbia gathered to take part in the 2016 State of Washington Law Enforcement Medal of Honor ceremony and Peace Officers Memorial.
The event was a collaboration from the behind the Badge Foundation and the State of Washington Attorney General’s Office. It is just another way, we as a community and as a law enforcement family, pay tribute to those who have gone above and beyond for the cause of public safety as well honor those who have given their lives in the line of duty.
Sergeant Brian Johnston of the Monroe Police Department and Behind the Badge Foundation President opened up this year’s ceremony. The Presentation of Colors, the singing of the American and Canadian National anthems, an invocation by Duvall police & Fire Department Chaplain Christy Dunn, and the reading of the roll call of honor followed.
In that role call, fallen WSP Detective Brent Hanger’s name was solemnly read. Governor Jay Inslee, accompanied by the Honor Guard, laid a wreath in remembrance of all those who have lost their lives. In recognition of their ultimate sacrifices, Governor Inslee proclaimed May 10, 2016 as Law Enforcement Recognition Week.
The names of Detective Hanger, Rick Silva from the Chehalis Police Department, and James Bennett from the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office were etched on the monument last week.
Following the memorial dedications, the Behind the Badge Foundation presented this year’s Medal of Honor recipients. According to the Washington State Office of the Attorney General, “this distinguished group of officers whose names appear here epitomize the true character of law enforcement officers — honor, integrity, and commitment to the citizens of the State of Washington.” This year’s recipients are:
- S. Customs Inspector Leroy J. Pike – U.S. Customs & Border Protection
- Detective Scott Bramball – Puyallup Police Department
- Officer Micah Wilson – Puyallup Police Department
- Officer Ed McClanahan – Lacey Police Department
- Town Marshal Jack G. Dietrick – Northport Marshal’s Officer
- Detective Brent L. Hanger – Washington State Patrol
- Jailer David B. Morrell – Thurston County Sherriff’s Office
- Town Marshal Cornelius R. Pake – Town of Yelm
- Officer Rick Silva – Chehalis Police Department
- Trooper Conrad C. Tolson – Washington State Patrol
- William S. Warfield – Washington State Department of Corrections
- S. Immigration Inspector Charles M. Flachs – U.S. Customs & Border Protection
Line of Duty Death Recognitions were also presented for:
- Deputy James M. Bennett – Chelan County Sheriff’s Office – End of Watch 07/14/1911
- Officer Rick Silva – Chehalis Police Departments – End of Watch 06/18/2015.
- Detective Brent L. Hanger – Washington State Patrol – End of Watch 08/06/2015
The Washington State Patrol Honor Guard wrapped up today’s event with a 21 Gun Salute and the playing of TAPS. They will never be forgotten and will always be in our hearts.