WASHINGTON –Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne led a wreath-laying ceremony today at the headquarters of the U.S. Department of the Interior to honor 96 Department of the Interior law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty since the department’s establishment. The ceremony of remembrance is held each year in Washington, D.C. during National Police Week.
“Courage. Duty. Honor. Valor. Heroism. These words transcend time,” Secretary Kempthorne said. “They connect officers from the past with the officers of today -- those who served long ago on foot and horseback and those who serve today in automobiles, airplanes, motorcycles and helicopters.”
Officiating at the ceremony was Larry Parkinson, Interior’s Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Law Enforcement, Security and Emergency Management. Bureau agency chiefs each laid wreaths while an honor guard composed of U.S Park Police and employees of other bureaus also participated.
Present at the ceremony were family members of Kris Eggle, an NPS ranger shot and killed in the line of duty at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona, on August 9, 2002 while pursuing members of a drug cartel hit squad. In the wake of 9/11, Kris protected his country by intercepting thousands of pounds of illegal drugs, and guarding a 30-mile stretch of the nation’s southern boundary. He was 28 years old.
Those on the remembrance list today began with Captain Chin Chi Kee, the first Department of the Interior law enforcement officer to give his life in the line of duty. He was shot and killed in 1852 while attempting to arrest four whiskey smugglers near Tishomingo, the capital of Chickasaw Nation in what is now Oklahoma.
The Secretary also lauded refuge manager Rich Guadagno, who was killed on September 11, 2001 aboard United Flight 93 with other passengers battling the terrorists to keep the plane from going to Washington, D.C.
The Department of the Interior has 4,000 law enforcement officers, the third largest law enforcement contingent in the federal government.. Department of the Interior officers face danger in remote wilderness locations, protect national assets such as Bureau of Reclamation dams, protect visitors to our national parks, enforce our laws on wildlife refuges and other public lands, work hand-in-hand with tribal law enforcement , and protect our workplaces. They are charged with investigating virtually every form of criminal activity from homicides to drug dealing to poaching.
“May we always remember those who have died in the past. May we honor their sacrifice. May we pray for and support their families. May we hold them in our hearts in thanksgiving for their service to our country,” said Secretary Kempthorne.