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SFS honors fallen defenders
Staff Sgt. Xavier Henderson, 45th Security Forces Squadron NCO in charge of supply, rings a bell during the Fallen Heroes Ceremony at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. May 13, 2014. Henderson rang the bell once for each fallen defender and then one final ring for all who lost their life in the line of duty. The ceremony took place as part of National Police Week May 12-16. (U.S. Air Force photo/Matthew Jurgens)
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SFS honors fallen defenders, heroes

Posted 5/14/2014   Updated 5/14/2014 Email story   Print story


by Heidi Hunt
45th Space Wing Public Affairs

5/14/2014 - PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Security Forces Airmen and law enforcement brothers and sisters, were honored during the Fallen Defenders' Ceremony May 13 as part of the 45th Security Forces Squadron's Opening Ceremony for Police Week at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. Police Week is a time dedicated to remembering fallen law enforcement officers.

The ceremony honored the fallen officers who were more than just outstanding defenders; they were outstanding mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles.

"Although we honor them in our own memories throughout the year, this week is devoted to paying special tribute to these men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect and serve the citizens of this great country," said Maj. Nathan Puwalowski, 45th SFS commander. "We also honor their families who have shared the burden of that sacrifice."

Since the first known line of duty death in 1791, more than 19,000 American law enforcement officers have made the ultimate sacrifice, Puwalowski said in his speech. On average, one law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty somewhere in the United States every 53 hours.

"Over the last decade, on average, there have been 59,000 assaults against law enforcement officers each year," Puwalowski added. "We also cannot forget the deadliest day in law enforcement history, September 11, 2001, when 72 officers were killed while responding to the worst terrorist attacks on the United States.

"In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week," he continued.

Every year since, tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world converge at Washington, D.C. to participate in a number of planned events which honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, according to Puwalowski's speech.

"We will continue the tradition today, and will honor our fallen Security Forces Airmen who have made such sacrifices," Puwalowski concluded.

Following Puwalowski's speech, Staff Sgt. Michael Blackmon read the names of each defender and Staff Sgt. Xavier Henderson, 45th SFS, rang the bell once. Each ring of the bell represents the words of President Kennedy's proclamation in 1962.

The attendees took a moment of silence to remember those who could not call on by name.

Prior to concluding the ceremony, members of the 45th Space Wing Honor Guard did a 21-gun salute and played Taps.

Blackmon extend a final special thanks to all law enforcement officers for their dedication, professionalism, and service to their country.

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