Police officers from across the area, as well as their friends, families and colleagues, recently gathered at the Dr. A.J. Ferlazzo Building to remember 17 law enforcement officials who either lived or worked in Prince William County and died during the line of duty.
Major Jarad Phelps, of the Prince William County Police Department, said those gathered at the ceremony were there to honor those who made a difference in the community. Phelps talked about the sacrifices police officers make, the danger they face daily and the passion they bring to their work. "Their lives made a difference not only to their family, friends or coworkers, they made a difference because they … remind each of us what it means to be a law enforcement officer."
Prince William County Police Officer Walter O'Neal mentioned the families of the fallen officers and said they should be kept in mind as well. "As we reflect tonight and the rest of the week on the officers that have fallen here in Prince William County and throughout the world, we must remember the oath that we took and we must remember … the family members who are still carrying on despite what they're going through."
Prince William County Police Chief Barry Barnard encouraged people to remember the fallen by talking about them and the lives they led. "I think it's so special when we do what we can to talk about them, to mention their names to tell the stories."
Barnard went on to say that the fallen officers should be remembered apart from the formal ceremonies. "We have memorial services and we have plaques and we have awards and we remember how they died. However they died, what's really important, the reason we're … here today is to remember how they lived and to remember them for who they were … and to honor their memories."
The 17 fallen heroes honored at the ceremony, which was hosted by the Prince William County Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association, included:
Justice of the Peace Thomas Simms Meredith, Prince William County Circuit Court – July 1922
Trooper Jackie M. Bussard, Virginia State Police – May 1970
Officer Paul T. White Jr., Prince William County Police – October 1973
Investigator Claude Everett Seymour, Virginia State Police – April 1975
Trooper Johnny R. Bowman, Virginia State Police – August 1984
Sergeant John D. Conner III, Manassas City Police – July 1988
Officer Phillip M. Pennington, Prince William County Police – November 1990
Trooper Jose M. Cavazos, Virginia State Police – February 1993
Special Agent William H. Christian Jr., Federal Bureau of Investigation – May 1995
Detective John M. Gibson, United States Capitol Police – July 1998
Officer Marlon E. Morales, Metro Transit Police – June 2001
Second Lt. Francis Joseph Stecco, Fairfax County Police – October 2008
Special Agent Chad L. Michael, Drug Enforcement Administration – October 2009
Special Agent Forrest N. Leamon, Drug Enforcement Administration – October 2009
Officer Paul Michael Dittamo, Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police – October 2010
Officer Chris Yung, Prince William County Police – December 2012
Officer Ashley Guindon, Prince William County Police – February 2016