Fallen Ga. law enforcement members, military personnel honored at Police Week vigil

hgoodridge@macon.comMay 16, 2013 

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE -- Spc. Erica Alecksen of Eatonton was the first member of her family to join the military.

Her father encouraged her to join the Army. “Erica was fearless,” her mother, Doria Alecksen, said. “She was her brother’s best friend and daddy’s little girl.”

On July 8, 2012, Erica Aleck-sen, 21, was one of six soldiers to die in Maidan Shahr, Afghanistan after a roadside bomb blew up their vehicle.

It’s been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy signed into law May 15 as Peace Officers’ Memorial Day. It’s celebrated as a week of remembrance for law enforcement personal around the country and members of the military who died in the line of duty.

Robins Air Force Base 78th Security Forces Squadron hosted its annual National Police Week 2013 Candlelight Vigil at the base chapel Thursday with law enforcement agencies from around the state to honor Georgia’s fallen heroes.

It’s seven days of reflection for many around the country, but for families like the Alecksens, theirs is a pain that lasts a lifetime.

A week after Spc. Alecksen died, her father died of a massive heart attack. “He blamed himself because he pushed her to join,” Doria Alecksen said after Thursday’s vigil. “He died of a massive broken heart.”

Military personnel and law enforcement officials carried a candle down the aisle of the chapel to the altar and lit another flame for each of the state’s fallen heroes who died in the line of duty during the last year. Thirty-four flames were lit, including four for K-9s.

The officer hit by a car assisting a motorist whose vehicle had broken down, the two officers who died in a helicopter crash looking for a lost 9-year-old, the correctional officer stabbed by an inmate, the soldier who stepped on an IED, they all died in various ways but doing the same thing -- serving.

Bibb County Sheriff David Davis was the guest speaker at the vigil.

“To all who gave the ultimate sacrifice, we vow here to always remember, to never forget and to keep your spirits alive in our hearts,” Davis said during his address. “All of us here have experienced the loss of one of our own. Be it an officer or a deputy from our department, or an officer or a deputy from another department, or a service member that we’ve heard of who has fallen ... the law enforcement and military family transcends jurisdictional lines. There isn’t one of us in here tonight who doesn’t feel a bit of our heart sink when we hear an officer or a military member has died in the line of duty.

“The worst call a sheriff, a chief or a commander can get is that call that one of our own has been killed.”

Davis then shared with the audience how he received that call three times during seven years as chief deputy at the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.

“Each time that dreaded call came in, it began a gut-wrenching experience of loss which destroys any sense of normalcy in our office, or our home,” he said. “No matter how difficult that call is to receive, it is nothing compared to the loss ... that the family and the loved ones of the fallen hero will always endure. ... You family members are not alone.”

To contact writer Harold Goodridge, call 744-4382.

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