Durant’s Market Square was the site of a solemn remembrance of Bryan County’s 12 fallen officers. In the entire state, 775 have lost their lives in the line of duty. Each one of those lost were honored with solemn words and moments of silence with prayer. Sargeant Vonnie Houser sang a touching rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
Police Chaplain Bill Ledbetter led the prayer along with scripture to honor those fallen. Mike Grimes was guest speaker at the ceremony Thursday evening.
Shelley Russell lost her son Nicholas Dees in January of 2015. He was hit by a texting driver while he was working a wreck scene near Shawnee, Oklahoma. Russell has spent most of her time and effort since then, making sure no one forgets her son. She lobbied and was successful in getting a law passed against texting and driving.
Mike Russell, Shelley Russell’s husband said about the ceremony, “It’s good, but it hurts every time.” Closure can sometimes be hard when you lose a child. Russell said, “this time of the month, this time of the year, you try to scab up and heal over the year. I think this time of the month is hard and it kind of picks at it.”
He said Nick was killed 16 months ago. It doesn’t matter how long ago you lost a loved one, it still hurts years later. Each fallen officer’s name was read, and a representative placed a flower in remembrance of the officer killed. Roll call and roses were led by Bryan County District Attorney Emily Redman and Bryan County Sheriff Ken Golden. Those lost in the line of duty from Bryan County are, Bennington City Marshal James Eli Parish, Bokchito City Marshal Carl Lee “Don” Hart, Bokchito City Marshal Warren N. Smith, Bryan County Sheriff Deputy Michael D. Pace, Bryan County Sheriff John Ellis Williams, Caddo City Marshal Morgan Haddock, OK ABLE Commission Agent Lori Dean Thomas, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Nicholas Dees, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Houston F. “Pappy” Summers, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Billy Gene Young, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lieutenant Pat Grimes, Deputy United States Marshal Abner David McLellan. Taps was played and Durant Police Honor Guard stood at attention without movement, in the officers honor. Mike Grimes made a solemn walk and put a flower in the Honor Guard display of flowers. The blue and white color in the shape of the state of Oklahoma held a flower for each person lost in the line of duty. Oklahoma was the white with a blue stripe across the state. This is similar to the stripe worn across an officer’s badge honoring a fallen officer.
Redman said after the event, “I thought it was a beautiful ceremony. It’s always good when the community and the law enforcement community can come together to honor those fallen in the line of duty.”
Grimes lost his twin brother in a shootout that took place in Caddo, Oklahoma year ago.
1978 was the year that killers, Claude Eugene Dennis and Michael Charles Lancaster escaped from prison and terrorized the area for 33 long days.
Grimes said, “My twin brother was killed in 78. I appreciate the fact they these officers are always remembered. Whether it was 1912 or 1978 or even last year.”
Grimes walked over to Shelley Russell and both comforted each other about their loss. They shared a quiet embrace as each remembered their own. It seems comforting when someone else has experienced a loss similar. Grimes loss was nearly 40 years ago, while Russell’s is still fresh in everyone’s mind. It makes no difference how much time has passed, death and the loss of a loved one continues to hurt. Remembering the fallen officer can sometimes help those left behind who are hurting.
Contact Dan Pennington at (580) 634-2162 or firstname.lastname@example.org