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Fallen officers honored
For families, 'hurt goes on'
An interactive mural painted by Bassett High School students, led by art teacher Kristina Weldon, covers one of the walls inside the Henry County Sheriff’s Office. A video screen gives information about fallen officers. County Sheriff Lane Perry (above) said that most county deputies walk past the wall each day, and it “reminds the officers of the ones that have gone before them in service. It is a reminder to honor their memory, what they stood for, and how they handled situations.” (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
The most honored guests at Tuesday’s Peace Officers’ Memorial Service were the family members of fallen officers, according to Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry.
“The primary people that we do want to honor are the family members,” Perry said. “When someone dies in the line of duty, it leaves a void. You are the most honored guests we have here, because your hurt goes on continually. We do recognize it and thank you for coming out to remember a loved one. It does mean a lot.”
Shortly before reading a city proclamation honoring the sacrifices of fallen officers, Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins and Henry County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Tommy Slaughter echoed Perry’s statements.
“For those families that are here that have lost a loved one in the line of duty, my heart goes out to you,” Adkins said. “We do appreciate the dedication that your family member had given in the line of duty. It should not go unnoticed.”
Slaughter added: “I put in 25 years in uniform myself. I know a lot of the families and a lot of the officers that are recognized here today. I had the opportunity to work with a great number of them. I know what a strain law enforcement is on a family.”
First Sgt. Eric Malone with the Virginia State Police, a 26-year veteran of that agency, spoke briefly about two state troopers who died in the line of duty: Charles Eugene Morris, who died in 1962, and James Michael Phillippi, who died Jan. 11.
An emotional Malone described Phillippi as “highly respected in the area. Not a greater man to work with.”
Phillippi was found in a wrecked state police vehicle. He died on duty as a result of a medical condition, according to previous reports.
Other fallen officers honored included Paul Edward Grubb, Henry County Sheriff’s Office, died July 2, 1989; George Melvin Brown, Henry County Sheriff’s Office, died June 26, 1984; Willis Herman Ferguson, Henry County Sheriff’s Office, died March 18, 1975; John Hughes Mitchell, Henry County Sheriff’s Office, died May 4, 1922; George S. Frame, Bassett Police Department, died March 18,1923; John J. Johnston, Fieldale Police Department, died Jan. 27, 1945; Jonathan W. Bowling, Martinsville Police Department, died Jan. 26, 2005, in Iraq; and George F. Carter, Martinsville Police Department, died June 14, 1919.
The 10 officers died “holding a line so that a community can live peacefully and safely,” Perry said. He added that to forget their sacrifice would diminish the importance of that sacrifice, no matter how long ago it occurred.
Also among those attending the service were Martinsville Police Chief Sean Dunn and Capt. Mildred Spence with the Martinsville Sheriff’s Office. It took place in the Summerlin meeting room at the Henry County Administration Building.
The honor guards for the Martinsville Sheriff’s Office, Henry County Sheriff’s Office, Martinsville Police Department and Virginia State Police posted colors.
Chaplains Eric Kieselbach and Alan Vaughn led opening and closing prayers.
David Cameron rang a bell, one strike for each of the 10 fallen officers memorialized. Kevin Lewis played “Taps” on horn, while Bob Norris played “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes.