Fallen state police comrades honored

HOLLIDAYSBURG – State police took time this week to remember their fallen comrades and recognize those troopers, past and present, who put their lives on the line every day.

Capt. Maynard H. Gray, commanding officer of Troop G in Hollidaysburg, said Thursday’s memorial service in front of the Troop G headquarters in Hollidaysburg served to mourn the loss of troopers who have died in the line of duty as well as convey comfort to their families and show gratitude for the men and women who continue the state police’s mission of protecting and serving Pennsylvania communities.

The world has changed immensely since the inception of the state police 108 years ago, Gray said, yet added that in some ways it hasn’t, as police continue to “battle against violence, illegal drugs and crime.”

“It’s essential we make our society safe for our children,” said Gray, standing with fellow officers representing every stripe of trooper in Troop G.

In Blair County, the names of four troopers who gave their lives in service are etched on the state police memorial wall. Trooper Dean Zeigler died in 1942 in an automobile accident; Trooper Floyd B. Clouse died in 1971 as a result of a gun shot wound while serving a warrant; Cpl. John S. Valent was shot in 1971 while transporting several juveniles; and Sgt. Arthur L. Hershey died in 1999 while at the scene of a motor vehicle accident.

Gov. Tom Corbett proclaimed Thursday as Pennsylvania State Police Day, and troopers throughout the commonwealth gathered to remember and reflect on their often dangerous job.

The ceremony in Hollidaysburg featured a reading of the Troop G fallen troopers’ names as well as a reciting of the Call of Honor by the active and retired state police who were present. A state police helicopter, weapons and other equipment used by troopers were also on display.

Trooper David McGarvey said afterward that cadets at the state police academy in Hershey pass by the list of 94 fallen troopers every day during their six months of training, and noted every trooper understands and accepts that by putting on the uniform they may have to give their life someday to protect the public.

“We realize it is a possibility every day, that we could lose our lives in the line of duty,” said McGarvey.

And while guns do claim officers’ lives, it’s car accidents that kill most officers, McGarvey said. With the mileage troopers put on their vehicles and the time spent on the road, responding to traffic accidents and issuing citations to motorists, “it’s certainly dangerous just for us to be in our vehicles,” he said.

Most recently, Trooper Blake T. Coble died Oct. 4 due to injuries suffered after a tractor-trailer ran a stop sign and struck his patrol car in Beaver County.

Dan Casey, 68, an Altoona resident who attended Thursday’s service, said he came out to show his support for the officers.

“I was curious to see what was going on out here,” Casey said, adding that he thought it was a shame more residents didn’t attend the ceremony.

Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.