The Sun News

Robins AFB senior airmen among those honored at candlelight vigil

WARNER ROBINS -- A candlelight vigil honoring military and civilian law enforcement officers who died while in service during the past year was held May 12 at Southside Baptist Church.

Among those honored were Senior Airman Rebbie Williams and Senior Airman Melvin Dallas, both of the 78th Security Forces at Robins Air Force Base.

Williams, who had been stationed at Robins for two years, died June 14, 2014, after a long battle with cancer. Dallas was killed Feb. 22 in a vehicle crash in Mississippi. He had been stationed at Robins for two years, with one deployment to the Middle East.

Warner Robins Police Chief Brett Evans paid tribute to those who died, described members of law enforcement as mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, wives and husbands, and talked about the demands of their profession.

There is “no higher calling to service of the community than that of law enforcement,” he said.

“To the officers, today’s society, we’re highly scrutinized, and as a profession we are disliked by some. But I would tell you this, it is not the majority,” Evans said. “There are those who will be critical of your every action, those who would call you names in protest, those with the extreme ability to analyze and dissect your every move.”

But there also is a movement to support law enforcement across the county that is picking up speed and momentum, Evans noted.

“We’ve seen this in our community with our growing number of people who thank us for the job that we do,” Evans said. “We have calls, emails, letters, notes on our police cars, personal handshakes from everyday people who appreciate what we stand for.”

Evans said there are efforts to humanize the person behind the badge and even a national call for support using the Twitter hashtag #WeSeeYou as a way to offer messages of support for law enforcement officers.

“Have no regrets for your profession, take pride in your uniform, stand proudly with your badge and know that these officers honored tonight gave their lives for the chance to seek change, the chance for a better tomorrow, the chance to make a difference,” he said.

Also honored at the ceremony, all of whom died in the line of duty, were Monroe County sheriff’s Deputy Michael Norris, Franklin County sheriff’s Deputy Steven “Cruz” Thomas, Griffin police Officer Kevin Jordan, Fulton County police detective Terence Avery Green, Clayton County Officer Darryl Wallace, and Walker County sheriff’s K-9 Tanja.

The “Gone But Never Forgotten” candlelight vigil at Southside Baptist Church was organized by the 78th Security Forces Squadron Defender’s Council at Robins as part of National Police Week events in Houston County.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.