Fallen law enforcement officers honored with JBER memorial service

Inside the Gates
Fallen law enforcement officers honored with JBER memorial service
Published: May. 17, 2023 at 5:09 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A wave of silence fell across service members at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on Monday as they paused for a moment of silence to remember the lives of their fallen law enforcement members.

“This week we gather to pay tribute to the security forces, military police, and all law enforcement officers — local and federal,” Lt. Col. Michael J. Kennedy said as he spoke to a gathered crowd on base.

Monday kicked off National Police Week in Alaska and around the nation. President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day in 1962 and the week on which that day falls as Police Week.

The week has been used to honor law enforcement members who have lost their lives in the line of duty. This year, the 673d Security Forces Squadron also chose to remember those who lost their lives to suicide.

“It’s definitely an emotional day. We’ve got to remember all the lives that have been lost in the line of duty. Those who haven’t made it to the end of their watch,” U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Taylor Davis said. “In the last seven years, we calculated the numbers — there’ve been 1,981 lives taken in the line of duty, or lost by death or suicide.”

Kicking off at noon Monday, service members honored the lives of those fallen by running around the Elmendorf Fitness Track for 24 hours carrying a guidon, a flag bearing the name of the squadron.

Throughout the day, service members will hand off the guidon as it continues to make its way around the entire track — all day, never stopping.

“There as a symbol, have it moving is a dedication to what we are doing here this week,” Davis said.

It’s an opportunity to reflect on the lives lost, Kennedy said. In the past, Kennedy said he has participated in it.

This year, he planned to participate as well and run with his family.

“Obviously, I lost friends in security forces. I lost a lot of law enforcement friends as well,” Kennedy said. “It’s an honor, it’s really humbling. It’s a somber experience.”

As the troops click off laps around the track carrying the guidon, remembering the names of the fallen and their stories, they continue to move forward together and never forget those who lost their lives.

“We remember the courage with which they worked and lived,” Kennedy said. “And may we recommit ourselves to the mission to which they dedicated their lives.”