Annual Ariz. memorial held to remember those killed in line of duty

By Nicole E. Squibbs
The Sun

YUMA, Ariz. — Women in black and white escorted by uniformed law enforcement officials placed carnations in a wooden wreath adorned with a black band, during the Roll Call of Heroes. At the Annual Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial Service Tuesday night, the red carnations were used to represent the three agencies which had fallen officers over the last year: the U.S. Border Patrol, Yuma County Sheriff's Office and Yuma Police Department.

"The riderless horse always brings tears to my eyes. And the taps," said Mary Beth Richard, widow of Joe Young, a deputy sheriff who served YCSO for 12 years. "I'm always thrilled to come to it every year ... We need to remember the people out there fighting the good fight, here and over there (Iraq)."

Roughly 125 civilians attended the ceremony presented by the Fraternal Order of Police Yuma Lodge No. 24 at Crossing Park, 201 N. 4th Ave., which began years ago as a 15 minute get-together and is now over an hour long, according to Maria Lopez, who has been coordinating it for over 28 years.

It began with a mounted patrol of horses ridden by Border Patrol and the Yuma County Sheriff's Posse, followed by the posting of colors by the YPD Color Guard, the pledge of allegiance, prayers and songs by three girls called The Wendy Chicks.

It ended with a 21-gun salute, taps and the presenting of the colors to Yuma County Sheriff Ralf Ogden. Mrs. Ogden lit the candle, which Lopez said was the "light that continues to shine as law enforcement continues to do their job."

"All agencies present tonight have lost a brother or sister ... Those few who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our security, safety and comfort," said Ronald Colburn, who recently left Yuma to become the deputy chief of the Border Patrol in Washington, D.C. and was the guest speaker.

At one point, he asked the crowd to take a moment of silence to "pick up a happy remembrance and pick that moment to remember at this time."

Richard said she remembered a time she and her husband were on vacation, playing in the snow.

Tuesday morning, roughly 50 civilians attended the U.S. Border Patrol Yuma Sector Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony, where pictures of the fallen agents were placed on a black covered table by the stories of how they died in the line of duty and a flower wreath. Those who died in the line of duty also received a 21-gun salute and taps.

Colburn also attended the Border Patrol ceremony and said, "Since we have lost seven Border Patrol agents here and one National Guard while supporting our mission, I think it's extremely important to celebrate the life of the individual ... and mourn with the family."

He said he had worked with three of the fallen agents, and that any one of them "could easily have been one of us."

Copyright 2007 The Sun (Yuma, Ariz.)

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