San Joaquin installation pays tribute to fallen officers

By Annette Silva DLA Distribution

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Employees of Defense Distribution Depot San Joaquin, Calif., and law enforcement officers from the local community paid tribute to fallen law enforcement officers during a morning National Peace Officers’ Memorial Observance May 13.  Capt. Danelle Hohe, chief of police for Lathrop Police Services, served as the keynote speaker.

At the start of the ceremony, Defense Distribution Depot San Joaquin, Calif.’s Police Capt. David Armacost read the 2015 Presidential Proclamation for Peace Officers’ Memorial Day and Police Week signed by President Barack Obama.  Upon conclusion, Police Chief John Vieira welcomed the audience.

Prior to the keynote speech, DLA Installation Support San Joaquin site director Jonathan Mathews and installation commander Marine Col. Keith Reventlow provided welcoming remarks.

Mathews took the opportunity to recite the first police proclamation from October 1, 1962, originally signed by former President John F. Kennedy.  “The simple paragraph written 53 years ago so flawlessly calls out what these officers do, day in and day out, without second thought,” said Mathews. “They selflessly give of themselves to ensure we are safe and the laws of the land are upheld.”

He went on to talk about law enforcement being a thankless job, with recent events causing many to lose their trust and respect for police officers.

“But yet they [law enforcement] endure; they still protect us and all that is good about the American way of life. And they still uphold an oath to protect and serve, no matter the personal sacrifice or loss.”

Reventlow was honored to participate in the ceremony and publicly recognized 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 listen to the names of the fallen officers, I ask that you pause and recognize their amazing acts of heroism; their bravery in the line of fire and their selfless service. It is our hope and prayer that this ceremony reflects our undying gratitude for their personal sacrifice,” he said.

He ended his remarks by thanking DLA’s police force for their service in protecting the installation’s 1,300 personnel, in addition to protecting 450 acres of property and an extensive inventory of materiel, valued in the billions.

“Without you, our DLA police force, we could not execute our primary mission of supporting the warfighter; that Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine or Coastguardsman, whether at home or abroad, protecting our great nation. Thank you for all that you do,” Reventlow concluded.

During the keynote address, Hohe shared her vision and hope for law enforcement. “As a society, let us lose the labels; stop creating factions to further conflict and let us all be colorblind. Let us focus on behavior, pure and simple.”

Hohe went on to explain that there is a cost to the profession; when law enforcement experiences the worst in human behavior, day after day, that behavior changes an officer. “Although our loved ones and friends call us paranoid, we continue in survival mode. Strapping on the gun bears much more weight than that of the firearm itself. It is the realization that you may not be returning home, or that you may have to take a life.”

She concluded her speech by speaking of the officers that paid the ultimate price in losing their lives. The price that bankrupts families; robs them of their mother, father, son, daughter, wife or husband; and the agonizing grief and emptiness their loss leaves behind.

“Today we pay tribute to those selfless and brave officers who died protecting others, they are our heroes,” she said. “We owe them everlasting thanks and respect and they will never be forgotten.”

To pay tribute to the 16 fallen officers and one K9 from California, their names were read and given a moment of silence as Mathews and Police Chief John Vieira laid a wreath in their honor in front of the ceremonial bell. Upon conclusion of the moment of silence, Daniel Noyer of DLA Training sang a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace in their honor as the crowd sat in silence and occasionally wiped a falling tear.

According to the “Officer Down” memorial website, there were a total of 133 line of duty deaths in 2014, with California accounting for 15 of those officers. Presently in 2015, there are 44 deaths including two officers from California.