BLUENITED

Lufkin High School band student Reed Drapela plays taps in honor of the four fallen Angelina County officers during the BLUENITED memorial ceremony Tuesday.

Law enforcement, local officials and citizens gathered at the Angelina County Courthouse Wednesday evening in observance of National Peace Officer Memorial Day.

BLUENITED is an annual event held with the participation of local law enforcement that promotes unity within the community and recognizes officers who have fallen in the line of duty in the county. Lufkin Police Chief David Thomas welcomed the assembled guests.

A memorial stands at the courthouse dedicated to those in the county who fell in the line of duty. The four fallen officers in the county are Angelina County Sheriff William R. McMullen, 47; Angelina County Reserve Capt. Don H. Wilmon, 32; Deputy Byford H. Hunter, 34; and Huntington Police Officer John E. Logan Jr., 33.

The county’s multi-agency honor guard posted the colors around the memorial before Chaplain Randy Brown led the congregation in invocation and Crime Stoppers Detective JB Smith announced the winners of the student essay, coloring and poster contests. This year’s essay winners are Daniel Jordan, Hudson Middle School, and Bryanna Lopez, Diboll High School. Coloring winners are Korlee Tobias, Peavy Primary, and Alicia McFarland, Bonner Elementary.

Lufkin Police Chaplain Raymond K. Vann discussed the history of the National Peace Officer Memorial Day and police week and further reflected on those lost in Angelina County and the duties of a peace officer.

“These are true heroes who gave their lives serving others,” Vann said.

“None of the guys listed on this memorial knew on that fateful day that it would be their final.”

In his address, Vann touched upon the difficulties officers face in their everyday work and how post-traumatic stress weighs upon officers.

“They have to deal with people who lie to them, people who run from them, people who want to hurt them, people who try to hurt them, people who try to kill them, people who pass out behind the wheel of a car … ” he said.

Vann also reflected on the recent incident that left Lufkin Police Officer Seth Thompson hospitalized after a vehicle struck him as he worked an accident.

“It was a pleasant day. There were festivities going on around him,” Vann said. “He had just finished his lunch with a fellow officer when he was dispatched to a minor accident.

“Within minutes he found himself in a helicopter being life-flighted to Tyler fighting for his life. On that afternoon, the mood was grim. In the split-second before Seth was struck, he pushed a citizen out of the path of a vehicle.

“He could have moved out of the way, but Seth chose to stay and save the life of Jerry Sneed. In truth, we are very blessed we are not adding Seth’s name to that monument.”

Vann commended the community and local businesses such as Whataburger and Brookshire Brothers on helping to support Thompson following the incident.

Sheriff Greg Sanches and Huntington Police Department Chief Bobby Epperly, along with the LPD and Texas Department of Public Safety honor guard, laid wreaths in honor of the fallen officers, then gave a final salute. Lufkin High School band students Micah Bonnin, Elise Cavanaugh and Sebastian Gonzalez played taps before a last radio call was made by Roman Collins of DPS in honor of the four fallen Angelina County officers.

Chaplain M.E. Lyons gave a spiritual reading before Chaplain Cindy Doran closed the service in prayer.

Austin King’s email address is austin.king@lufkindailynews.com.

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