Remember, honor our police officers

Published 8:48 pm Tuesday, May 12, 2009

J.H. Youngblood probably woke up May 22, 1962, without ever thinking that day would be his last.

I imagine he put on his uniform, headed to the Troy Police Department and went about his daily routine, that is, until he came face-to-face with Eugene S. Gault carrying a gun.

It was after Gault attempted to rob a bank in Ozark, fled, killed several along the way and ultimately shot Youngblood in the door of a rural store on Highway 29.

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The story was different for Billy Dease just a few years later — the ending was the same.

Dease, struck by a vehicle Jan. 8, 1968, was directing traffic back onto South Brundidge Street. He was just doing his job, but he was killed.

Doing his job just like Steve Watkins was doing in November 1981, when an elderly man was reported armed at Daisy Court in Troy.

Answering the call, Watkins, along with Malcom Griffin and Clark Boutwell were wounded. Only Watkins didn’t survive.

It was 1962, 1968 and 1981 when these three officers lost their lives, but the closeness still lives on in all Pike County officers even today.

This week, the country is honoring officers like Youngblood, Dease, Watkins and all others who have lost their lives in the daily battle that is protecting their communities. And, it is celebrating the service of those who live that service today.

The country is not alone in this endeavor. Here in Troy, the city police force and those from all over the county, will gather today in front of the Troy Police Department for this honor.

If you’re like me, its easy to forget the price of safety.

It’s easy to believe that nothing bad will happen to me in small-town Pike County. And it’s just as easy to take for granted how quickly safety will come running at the dial of three buttons — and that officers never come without the risk of laying down their lives.

But for the families of these officers, that price is not easily overlooked.

And so today, lets take a second to remember.

Let’s forget, even if just for this week, the bad reputation we sometimes give to our police. Let’s forget how annoyed we are when we get pulled over for traffic violations. Let’s instead, give our men and women in uniform the honor they deserve.

It’s not often we are called to the front line of battle. It’s a daily occurrence for our local officers. Remember.

Holli Keaton is news editor for The Messenger. She can be reached at