In the News -- Sul Ross hosts law enforcement memorial

For Release...May 29, 2013


by Steve Lang, News and Publications

Nine names were added to the memorial plaque as the Big Bend Area Law Enforcement Officers Association (BBALOEA) honored fallen comrades Wednesday (May 29) in ceremonies at Sul Ross State University.

Seven officers died in the line of duty in 2012, while two others – Richard W. Wallace (Nov. 29, 1899) and Thomas S. O’Connor (Jan. 30, 1911), both of the U.S. Customs Office – were added following verification through historical research. The names of nearly 150 fallen enforcement officers, dating back to 1877, have been included on the memorial plaque.

The roll call also included Angel Garcia and Jonathan Molina, El Paso Police Department; Josh Mitchell, Reagan County Sheriff’s Office; Michael Smith, Upton County Sheriff’s Office; Javier Arana, Jr., Texas Department of Public Safety; Leopoldo Cavazos, Jr., and David R. Delaney, U.S. Border Patrol. Surviving family members received condolences from representatives of the participating agencies during the service.


Memorial Wreath

Presidio Port Director David Lambrix (left) and El Paso Police Sergeant Lawrence Lujan carry the memorial wreath honoring fallen law enforcement officers. Sul Ross State University hosted the sixth annual Big Bend Area Law Enforcement Memorial Wednesday (May 29) on the university mall. (Photo by Thalia Aparicio)


Flag folding

Honor Guard members prepare to fold the flag to be placed in honor of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty. The sixth annual Big Bend Law Enforcement Officers Association memorial was held Wednesday (May 29) at Sul Ross State University. The names of nine law enforcement officers -- including seven who died in 2012 -- were added to the memorial plaque. (Photo by Steve Lang)


Sul Ross hosts law enforcement memorial

Dr. Ricardo Maestas, Sul Ross State University President, spoke at the annual  Big Bend Area Law Enforcement Officers Association (BBALOEA) memorial, held Wednesday (May 29) on the mall.  The annual ceremony honors area law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. (Photo by Steve Lang)

Sul Ross President Dr. Ricardo Maestas addressed the sixth annual memorial service, saying, "this memorial is a moment in time for us to remember our loved ones who have given the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe from harm.

"Unfortunately, Alpine and the Big Bend are areas that have too much activity that keep our law enforcement busy, but they do so with the strength and conviction that allows them to protect our region," he said.

Maestas expressed his condolences to the families and said the officers "did their very best to protect this nation and this area. They will remain in our hearts as heroes and we are fortunate to have had them with us."

He praised the BBALEOA for their efforts in organizing the memorial, adding, "Sul Ross is very proud to host the memorial and to offer a site for the future permanent memorial monument. I am glad that we have this opportunity to share our grief and our appreciation for our law enforcement.

"To our current Border Patrol, DPS troopers, local law enforcement and future peace officers...thank you for continuing to serve our nation, our state and our local area. We need you and are proud that you are a part of the long standing West Texas tradition for keeping our region safe."

John J. Smietana, Jr., Big Bend Sector Chief Patrol Agent, U.S. Border Patrol, served as master of ceremonies. Rev. Miguel Alcuino, Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church, Alpine, gave the invocation. Minister Greg Meade, Fort Davis Church of Christ, delivered the benediction.

Scheduled guest speaker, State Rep. Poncho Nevarez, Eagle Pass, was unable to attend because the State Legislature was called back into special session. Brian Powell, West Texas field director for U.S. Congressman Pete P. Gallego, read a letter from the Alpine Congressman, who was also unable to attend. Smietana also read letters saluting the fallen officers from Texas Governor Rick Perry and U.S. Senator John Cornyn.

Following the remarks and reading of the letters, Presidio Port Director David Lambrix and El Paso Police Sergeant Lawrence Lujan placed the memorial wreath. Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Martin Valenzuela read the roll call. Sul Ross student Raven Thrasher, El Paso, provided a musical tribute.

A 21-gun salute by the Texas Department of Public Safety Honor Guard was followed by "Taps," played by Jorge Limon, U.S. Border Patrol Marfa Sector.

The flag folding was conducted by a multi-agency honor guard. The U.S. Border Patrol played the pipes and drums; and the Midland County Sheriff’s Office Mounted Patrol led the riderless horse. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine and Texas Department of Public Safety performed the fly over.

The service concluded with the benediction.

The BBALEOA, established in 1970, seeks to build a permanent memorial on the Sul Ross campus. Donations are tax deductible and may be mailed to the BBALEOA, Sheriff Mike Strickland, 300 E. 4th St., Monahans, Texas 79756.