NBCRightNow.com - A ceremony was held Thursday morning to honor Washington State Patrol employees who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving for the citizens of Washington.
Governor Jay Inslee joined Chief John R Batiste at the Washington State Patrol Training Academy in Shelton for the ceremony. 28 people have lost their lives in the line of duty since WSP was established in 1921.
“We stand here today in remembrance of our fallen” Chief Batiste said. “Their sacrifice cannot and will not be forgotten. Every new trooper cadet class learns the story of these 28 as a reminder of the dedication they must possess in order to be a member of our proud organization.”
Three of the troopers being remembered lost their lives in the Columbia Basin and Yakima Valley areas. Trooper James Saunders died on October 7, 1999, at the age of 31 from gunshot wounds while conducting a traffic stop in Pasco. At the time of his death, Trooper Saunders had served 8-1/2 years with the Washington State Patrol as a trooper.
Trooper Raymond Hawndied on January 17, 1990, at the age of 47 when he was struck by a vehicle while rendering assistance to a motorcyclist who had run out of gas alongside Highway 12 near Grandview. At the time of his death, Trooper Hawn served 21 years with the Washington State Patrol.
Trooper Frank Noble died on February 5, 1972, at the age of 42. He was shot during a traffic stop near Toppenish by a furloughed convict who earlier had robbed a convenience store. At the time of his death, Trooper Noble had served 14 years with the Washington State Patrol.
The ceremony consisted of a 21-gun salute and the name of each fallen officer called out as the flag was lowered to half staff. Each time a name was called a bell sounded in their honor. This was followed by the sound of Taps echoing throughout the academy grounds.
An eternal flame burns in front of the memorial erected at the academy engraved with the names of these heroes.
WSP’s most recent loss was Trooper Sean M. O’Connell Jr. who died in a collision last May. Trooper O’Connell’s motorcycle collided with a box truck while he was conducting traffic duties at the Skagit River Bridge collapse.
You can read more about the 28 fallen WSP officers here.