Honoring heroes

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sgt. Jason Youngblood salutes as he stands with the memorial wreath honoring fallen police officers. (Photo/Katherine Johnson)

Community members pay tribute to fallen officers 

Pike County’s finest stood at attention while names of fallen officers were read Wednesday morning as part of National Police Week and Peace Officers Memorial Day.

“We hope to never add another name,” said Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford. “These are all people we know, who we all respect, who gave their lives for us.”

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Five officers from the Troy Police Department have been killed or died in the line of duty. Their names and end of watch dates are placed on memorial stones outside the police department and in Bicentennial Park – Officer Will G. Jackson, June 1905; Officer Hayden Youngblood, May 1962; Officer Cecil Sullivan, November 1967; Officer Billy Dease, January 1968; and Officer Steve Watkins, November 1981.

A wreath was placed at each memorial site as Taps was played under sunny skies. With heads bowed, a dispatcher with TPD, Daniel Johnson lead those in attendance in a prayer for the fallen, and the officers of the Pike County Sheriff’s Office, TPD and the Troy University Police Department.

“Father, watch over them. Protect them, steady them and guide them home safely when their day is through,” Johnson said.

Other law enforcement officers with ties to Pike County have also died or were killed in the line of duty – Alabama Conservation Officer Grady Russell Jackson, February 1984; Alabama State Trooper R.W. “Bob” Jones, November 1991; Greenville Police Officer (Troy University graduate) Gary Wayne Heath, June 1994; Montgomery Police Department Officer (Troy University graduate) Willie H. Pryor, November 1995; Covington County Sheriff’s Deputy (former Troy University Police officer) Michael Brandon Lassiter, April 2004; and Montevallo officer (former Troy Police chief) John P. Lee, March 2008.

There are almost 150 names on the 2011 Roll Call of Honor list in memorial of officers killed in the line of duty last year. Three of those names represent Alabama officers.