Sheriff’s office to honor fallen heroes

Published 9:06 am Friday, March 22, 2013

Through the Fallen Heroes Memorial, to be unveiled May 15, the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office plans to pay tribute to Deputy Oneal Moore and other officers killed while protecting parish citizens.

Deputy Chief Olander Smith, the guiding force behind the project, started at the sheriff office the same time as Seal, July 1. Smith, who retired from the Louisiana State Police in August 2010, said memorial programs for officers killed in the line of duty and deceased officers had been held at Troop L for some time.

“When the sheriff got me on board with him, we talked about that, and I told him it would be great if we had a memorial service here honoring officers who died in the line of duty,” he said.

The sheriff agreed. In fact, he had made honoring Moore a promise during his 2011 campaign. Moore, the parish’s first black deputy, was killed in the line of duty, ambushed while patrolling in Varnado on June 2, 1965.

“Once we started talking about honoring Oneal Moore, we started looking up how many officers had been killed in the line of duty,” Smith continued.

Smith and Seal discovered there were six other officers killed in the line of duty while serving with the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Henry Burkhalter, Deputy Sheriffs Wesley Crain and Wiley Pierce, and Deputies Delos Wood, Jeffery Bickham and Yvonne Pettit.

They chose to honor these officers through a Fallen Heroes Memorial.

The memorial will be placed in the lobby of the sheriff’s office. A tribute to Moore, a large plaque with a raised image of his face, will be mounted on a pedestal. Plaques honoring each of the other officers will be take their place on the wall. The public will be able to view the memorial 24 hours a day.

Smith said he thinks the memorial is “the right thing to do for the officers, for the sheriff’s office and for the public.” When family members come to the sheriff’s office, they will see a plaque honoring their relative, he said.

The stories of many of these officers are not well known, and the memorial will encourage the public to start talking about them and asking questions, Smith added.

The memorial will be constructed through private donations, and any community member who would like to contribute can do so at Resource Bank. Donations can be made in person or mailed to the Fallen Heroes Memorial Fund, Resource Bank, 950 10th Ave., Franklinton, LA 70438. It is requested that donations be sent in by May 15.

None of the money, Smith said, will go to the sheriff’s office. It will all be used to help fund the project, which he estimates will cost between $10,000 and $14,000 to accomplish.

A dedication service will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 15, Peace Officers Memorial Day. The ceremony will commence on the steps of the parish courthouse and conclude in the lobby of the sheriff’s office.

“The public is invited,” Smith said. “It’s not just for the families. It’s for everyone who wants to show their respect and to honor those who were killed in the line of duty.”

Seal also extended an invitation to members of the public.

“Too much time has passed without formal recognition of the six men and one woman who died while serving our citizens,” he said. “This will change on May 15 and I pray that the Fallen Heroes Memorial will provide comfort and healing not only to the families of these officers but also to all citizens of Washington Parish.”