Soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChords 42nd Military Police Brigade gathered to mourn and remember 25 of their fallen comrades during a Pierce County law enforcement memorial May 8 at Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood.
Along with the remembrance for service members, the ceremony recognized the 35 Pierce County law enforcement officers who gave their lives in the line of duty since 1891, encompassing 122 years of service.
Representatives from civilian law enforcement agencies and 42nd MP Bde. Commander Col. David L. Chase performed a roll call of the fallen as a brass bell chimed after each name was read aloud.
Obviously, its a somber event but its important to see the sacrifices law enforcement officers make, he said.
Many of the 42nd MP Bde. casualties occurred in 2005 at the height of combat missions in Iraq. The unit lost 15 Soldiers that year, Chase said. The number is equal to all military police deaths last year in Afghanistan alone, according to Washington state Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, who gave the keynote address during the ceremony. None of the military police killed in action in 2012 were assigned to 42nd MP Bde.
Airmen from JBLMs 627th Security Forces Squadron also attended the memorial to show support for law enforcement personnel, a career that Owen described as an unique calling.
The sacrifices they are willing to make for their peers and for the public at possible risk of making the ultimate sacrifice are no more evident than at gatherings like these, he said. A law enforcement officer never knows from day to day what his or her job will bring. It can go from mundane to horrific in a matter of moments.
Staff Sergeant Janna Less, 627th SFS, read a poem entitled The Final Inspection as part of the ceremony. As a flightline constable at McChord Field, Less said instead of choosing to become a member of law enforcement, the job chose her. During basic training, she listed law enforcement as a career of interest and was eventually assigned that military occupational specialty. As the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, Less feels she has to trust in the profession that was selected for her.
I enjoy what I do, she said.
Owen said the event not only served to remember the fallen, but also to salute the living law enforcement officers who continue to place themselves in threatening environments, and families whose members work for change that supports the profession.
Chase was grateful for the 42nd MP Bde. to have the opportunity to participate in the event with the 627th Security Forces Squadron alongside their civilian counterparts in the community.
Seeing all the law enforcement agencies here, it brings them all together in a bond of brotherhood, he said.