Police commemorate fallen comrades

Retired Virginia trooper Nelson Longerbeam, of Front Royal, places a flag inside the memorial wreath for his former colleague, trooper H. Lee Henderson, during the Law Enforcement Memorial Service held by Skyline Regional Criminal Justice Academy at Lord Fairfax Community College on Wednesday. Henderson died March 17, 1987, after he was struck by a tractor trailer following an early morning traffic stop on Interstate 66 near Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

MIDDLETOWN – Area police gathered Monday to remember officers who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.

The Law Enforcement Memorial Service was hosted by the recently formed Skyline Regional Criminal Justice Center at Lord Fairfax Community College in recognition of National Police Week.

The program memorialized eight area law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty:

  • Virginia State Trooper Kevin Carder Manion.
  • Virginia State Trooper Daniel Lee Williams.
  • Winchester Police Department Sgt. Ricky L. Timbrook.
  • Front Royal Police Department Lt. William Patrick Farrell.
  • Virginia State Police Trooper Henry Lee Henderson.
  • Front Royal Police Department Sgt. Dennis M. Smedley.
  • Frederick County Sheriff James W. Newcome.
  • Frederick County Sheriff Luther Pannett.

As Warren County Sheriff Daniel McEathron read each of the officer’s names, family members of the deceased placed American flags in a wreath. Cheryl Cullers was one of those family members, there to honor the memory of her brother Dennis Smedley.

Cullers said it is nice Smedley is remembered through events such as the memorial. She noted that her son David, a Frederick County Sheriff’s Office deputy, is following in his uncle’s footsteps.

Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, speaks during the memorial Service. Rich Cooley/Daily

“I ask God every night to let him [Smedley] ride shotgun, and so far he has kept David safe. He’s his ride- along,” she said.

Although he was born after Smedley’s death, David Cullers said he wears his uncle’s ring as a good luck charm to keep him safe on the job.

William Manion, the father of Kevin Manion, said events like Wednesday’s memorial are important ways of remembering his  son and other police who have died. He said his son was killed due to a “freak accident” in which an unmanned shotgun discharged during a wreck investigation.

Virginia State Trooper Michael Forbes, who attended high school with Kevin Manion, said, “anything can happen at any given time. You can never take anything for granted when you put on a uniform.”

Del. Todd Gilbert, the memorial’s guest speaker, said it was an honor to pay tribute to the officers who have “given the ultimate sacrifice” as well as to active members.

William Manion, father of fallen trooper Kevin C. Manion, stands during the national anthem. Kevin Manion was killed in the line of duty after a rifle discharged while a wrecker was removing a truck from a ditch in Clarke County in 2006. Rich Cooley/Daily

“It is important, I think, that we never lose sight of these sacrifices that they make day in and day out. Not just the ultimate sacrifice but the toll that it takes on somebody that chooses this life of public service and public safety,” Gilbert said. “We should especially never allow ourselves to forget those who’ve died in this noble cause.”

He said it is more important than ever to honor law enforcement officers, as the profession is under attack in “so many parts of our culture.”

“It is our duty to them to remember them, to remember their names, to remember their situations that they dealt with so that others may learn from their tragedy,” Gilbert said. “Law enforcement officers, every day, leave behind their family and friends not knowing if it will be the last time they ever see them.”

Gilbert noted that the eight law enforcement officers honored at the memorial represented deaths in a small area of the country.

“If you extrapolate those sacrifices out across the rest of the nation, you can imagine how staggering it is, the number of brave men and women who have lost their lives in the line of duty,” Gilbert said. “These names and many more are who we honor here today. We commend them; we thank them, we remember them.”

Alexandra Chambers, a Warren County Sheriff's Office recruit, stands during the national anthem. Rich Cooley/Daily

Color Guard members Cpl. Mark Lahman, left, and Det. Trey Rounds, right, both of the Winchester Police Department, bow their heads during a prayer at the Law Enforcement Memorial Service held by Skyline Regional Criminal Justice Academy at Lord Fairfax Community College on Wednesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

William Manion, father of fallen trooper Kevin C. Manion, places a flag inside the memorial wreath Rich Cooley/Daily

Michelle Sayers, of Front Royal, puts a flag in the memorial wreath Sayer's father, Lt. William Patrick Farrell, a member of the Front Royal Police Department, died on July 24, 1991, from hepatitis B, which he contracted in 1977 while arresting a suspect. Rich Cooley/Daily

A police officer bows his head as U.S. Army veteran Ed Lillis plays Taps to end the Law Enforcement Memorial Service. Rich Cooley/Daily