This year’s observance of Peace Officers Memorial Day, May 15, at the Hillsville VFW Post was dedicated to the memory of Deriek Crouse, a Virginia Tech police officer killed in the line of duty last December. He had ties to Carroll County.
Several dozen officers from the Hillsville Police Department, Carroll County Sheriff’s Department, Virginia State Police and other local law enforcement agencies visited the VFW for their annual breakfast and memorial service honoring and remembering officers that were slain while serving the public.
Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week comprise a national observance designed to remember the fallen officers. The observance was created on October 1, 1961, when Congress asked the President to designate May 15 to honor peace officers. John F. Kennedy signed the bill into law on October 1, 1962. Amended in 1994, Bill Clinton through public law 103-322 directed that the flag of the United States be flown at half staff on this date.
VFW Post 1115 Commander Donald Trausneck conducted the program with assistance from Don Dobbins, who served as Chaplain, and members of the Honor Guard, including Post Commander-elect Wayne Jenkins, Ed Buchanan, John Hinchman, Burney Tilley, Bill Roberts, Oscar Hall and Guy Crouse.
Several other non-participating VFW members were also on hand.
Representing the Ladies Auxiliary during the ceremony were Marilyn Hinchman, Lavern Buchanan, Lilas Turman and Loreen Puckett.
“For those of us who served in the military, our war is long since over, our fighting days in the past, but for those of you serving our community today the war goes on,” Trausneck told the gathering seated at the breakfast table. “Most of us knew who our enemy was but you (referring to today’s officers) never really know who your enemy will be. He could be a neighbor or somebody you think is a friend. You have to always be on your guard.”
Tech Officer Crouse had survived Army service in the Iraq war but was gunned down while sitting in his patrol car by a man who fled on foot and later killed himself a quarter mile away on the campus. “He died doing what he loved,” his son Dustin Crouse, a student at Carroll County High School, is reported to have said during a memorial gathering shortly after the officer was slain in early December, 2011.
Before proceeding to the flagpole for a brief formal ceremony, the officers held a moment of silence as they remembered all of their comrades that have been murdered in the line of duty.
With the peace officers, VFW participants and other guests assembled by the flagpole, Dobbins gave a prayer of remembrance and the flag was then lowered to half staff while Tilley played TAPS.
This was the 12th time VFW Post 1115 has hosted this special occasion.