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News | June 7, 2017

DLA San Joaquin pays tribute to fallen officers

By Annette Silva DLA Distribution San Joaquin Public Affairs

Employees of DLA San Joaquin, California, local law enforcement officers and congressional staff paid tribute to fallen law enforcement officers during a morning National Peace Officers’ Memorial Observance May 17. Lt. Rick Campbell, Tracy Area Commander of the California Highway Patrol, served as the keynote speaker.

At the start of the ceremony, DLA San Joaquin’s Lt. Ryan Gardiner read the 2017 Police Week Proclamation and welcomed the audience.

Prior to the keynote speech, DLA Installation Support San Joaquin site director Jonathan Mathews and DLA Distribution San Joaquin deputy commander Susan Earle provided remarks, paying tribute to the fallen officers.

Mathews took the opportunity to pay his respect and express eternal gratitude to the brave officers and K9s that lost their lives in performance of their duties.

“I am saddened beyond words that we must continue to gather each year at this time, to acknowledge these selfless acts of heroism in order to keep us safe and sound. I also feel such deep sorrow for those that are left behind when these tragedies occur; the families, friends, and loved ones who now must endure the tremendous loss of a life taken away much too soon,” said Mathews. “I pray that they find peace and solace in their hearts, and that their emotional wounds heal in the days to come.”

Mathews went on to talk about atrocities inflicted on law enforcement and the K-9s that serve beside them.  He described them as “needless acts of cowardice” which come with no warning or notice, yet they still continue to hear the calling for this line of work.

“And yet this specific group of people continue to don the uniform, continue to kiss their loved ones goodbye never knowing if this is the last time they will have that blessed opportunity. They believe with all they are that the duties they perform are worth the risk of ultimate sacrifice, and they continue day in and day out protecting and serving on military, federal, and state installations, and in the towns, cities, counties, municipalities, and communities that they call home,” said Mathews.

He concluded by telling the audience to  make it a point to tell law enforcement officers how much they truly are appreciated, and how thankful we are that they put their lives on the line daily for our collective safety.

Earle said she was honored and humbled to participate in the ceremony and gave an emotional and heartfelt recognition to the law enforcement officers who gave their last full measure in service to their communities and paid respect to their families that were left behind.

“As we gathered here last year in this same spot, unfortunately we have to add 15 additional brave peace officers and three devoted canines that have fallen in the line of duty. I ask for your solemn attention and dignity in this tribute. They deserve so much more,” she said.

She concluded her remarks by thanking the DLA San Joaquin Police Force for their service in protecting the workforce every day.

During his keynote address, Campbell spoke of law enforcement as a dangerous profession and the previous week’s tragedies.  

“Officers do not go into work not expecting the day to be their last shift,” he commented. “Just this past week was a tragedy. Our neighbors in Stanislaus County had a deputy and civilian community service officer killed in a car crash, and Alameda County had a deputy killed in a collision on the Altamont Pass outside of Tracy.”  

Campbell took the opportunity to share a personal story about his fellow co-worker, Officer Lucas Chellew. He spoke of a time when he was in charge of the Sacramento Mounted unit where Challew served in the unit. “Lucas was on his horse and they were going in circles and a high rate of speed and Chellew fought his way to stay on and he never fell off. It was that determination that he exhibited every day that made him a great officer,” he commented.  Chellew was killed on February 22 in a motorcycle crash while pursuing another motorcycle.  

He went on to tell us that the calling is all the same across all law enforcement branches, to protect the citizens but unfortunately, sometimes evil wins the battles. He concluded his address by thanking the men and women of the armed forces for their service to the nation.

To pay tribute to the fallen officers and K9s from California, their names were read and a moment of silence given as Mathews and DLA Installation Support San Joaquin Police Chief Chuepheng Lo laid a wreath in their honor in front of the American flag. Erik Leiken of the Karl Ross Post of the American Legion then played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.