05/12/04 — Ceremonies honor fallen law officers

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Ceremonies honor fallen law officers

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on May 12, 2004 2:07 PM

Nine Wayne County law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty were remembered today with a service at a memorial at Wayne Community College.

Goldsboro Police Chief Tim Bell said the county was blessed that no one was added to the list.

"It's still so important each year to remember the fallen officers in Goldsboro and Wayne County," Bell said. "They gave up their lives to protect our homes. That's why we gather here today. We can't let their memory go away."

Honoring fallen law officers

News-Argus/Kaye Nesbit

Officers salute for taps before a solemn crowd.

Sheriff Carey Winders said officers gather as a brotherhood to comfort and support families left behind. Many relatives attended the service, including descendants of Sheriff John Coor-Pender, who was murdered in 1816.

Winders said the officers "are placed in harm's way every day." He said they were marked targets and do not work as officers for the pay or the gratitude.

"The answer is simple," the sheriff said. "It's our job and our career that we chose to protect the citizens of our city, county and state."

Mount Olive Police Chief Emmett Ballree said those who paid the ultimate price were heroes who showed bravery, commitment and courage.

"Let us keep these fallen heroes in our heart and maintain the ideals they lived and died for," Ballree said.

"Let us continue to honor these officers and grieve with their family," said Fremont Police Chief Ben Reid, "making certain their sacrifice was not made in vain."

Highway Patrol Line Sgt. Duane Banks said he was proud to be a law-enforcement officer and noted that two troopers had lost their lives.

The other fallen officers were Sheriff's Capt. Jerry K. Best, Fremont Police Chief Walter Braswell, Highway Patrol Troopers Michael Martin and I.T. Moore and Goldsboro Police Lt. Frank Faircloth and Officers Herbert C. Wiegand, Mahlon M. Parks and Walter J. Rouse.

A joint honor guard of Goldsboro police and sheriff's officers presented the colors and laid a wreath.

The Rev. Pete Williams, a sheriff's chaplain, offered the invocation, and the Rev. Dr. Rick Cason, a police chaplain, pronounced the benediction.

This year, 362 names, including five from North Carolina, will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, bringing the total to 17,028.

The sheriff's honor guard will attend the national Peace Officers Memorial Day on Saturday in Washington.

The Wayne County Emergency Services Memorial, which honors fallen law-enforcement, fire and rescue personnel, was established with public contributions. The college provided the land. It was dedicated in 2002. The Goldsboro Rotary Club landscaped the memorial as a project celebrating Rotary's 100th anniversary.

Those listed on the memorial include:

*Sheriff's Capt. Jerry K. Best, who died Nov. 13, 2002, while removing a deer that had been struck by a passing vehicle on N.C. 581.

*State Highway Patrol Trooper Michael Martin, a Mount Olive native, who died July 21, 1988, from injuries in a head-on collision with a truck as he pursued a fleeing motorcyclist near Reidsville.

*Fremont Police Chief Walter B. Braswell, who was fatally shot Nov. 13, 1965, with his own weapon, as he arrested a man during a domestic dispute. Braswell had been called out of retirement to serve as chief.

*Goldsboro Police Officer Walter J. Rouse, who was fatally shot Feb. 27, 1968, while apprehending a man who had robbed the Holiday Inn. The suspect was sentenced to 30 years for second-degree murder. Rouse's partner also was shot but survived.

*Goldsboro Police Lt. C. Frank Faircloth of Patrolman Mahlon M. Parks, who died Sept. 19, 1960, in a collision while pursuing a suspected bootlegger on Stevens Mill Road. The suspect was charged with manslaughter, but the charge was dismissed because of insufficient evidence.

*Goldsboro Police Officer Herbert C. Wiegand, who was killed March 9, 1940, after responding to a domestic call. The suspect was sentenced to life in prison.

*State Highway Patrol Trooper I.T. Moore, who died June 18, 1937, of gunshot wounds while questioning two suspects about the theft of 500 pounds of meat. One suspect shot Moore, and the trooper then killed the other. The first man was captured. Moore was the first trooper to be killed on duty.

*Sheriff Coor-Pender, a former state legislator who was assassinated in 1816 while serving an arrest warrant.

Thoroughfare Fire Chief H. Sidney Jones, Arrington Fire Lt. Robby Blizzard and rescue personnel Kenneth Davis and James Hickman also are listed on the memorial.