Local News

Thursday, May 17 2012 06:55 PM

Memorial service honors fallen peace officers

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    By Casey Christie /The Californian

    McFarland Police Chief Greg Herrington, left, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, Cal State Bakersfield Police Chief Marty Williamson, and Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Williamson, during a somber moment of the Kern County Peace Officer's Memorial honoring those in law enforcement who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

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    By Casey Christie /The Californian

    After giving a touching speech about her late husband, Joe Hudnall, Carrie Hudnall touches her husband's name on this plaque during the annual Kern County Peace Officer's Memorial event. In May of each year, the local law enforcement community recognizes the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Joe Hudnall died in the line of duty in 2006.

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    By Casey Christie /The Californian

    A 21-gun salute is put on by the Honor Guard members of the Kern County Sheriff's Office during Thursday's annual Kern County Peace Officer's Memorial service.

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    By Casey Christie /The Californian

    Kern County Sheriff Deputy Julio Garcia leads the Kern County Sheriff's Department Honor Guard in the 21-gun salute during the Kern County Peace Officer's Memorial.

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    By Casey Christie /The Californian

    Don Taylor, right, gets ready to play the bagpipes during the Peace Officer's Memorial service downtown, Thursday.

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    By Casey Christie /The Californian

    Thursday was the annual Kern County Peace Officer's Memorial event downtown on Truxtun Avenue.

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BY ANNA BURLESON Californian staff writer aburleson@bakersfield.com

Traffic on Truxtun Avenue was stopped Thursday afternoon to fly a huge American flag in honor of fallen peace officers.

The event at the Kern County Peace Officer's Memorial featured a 21-gun salute with speeches delivered by officers from various agencies.

"What this does is give all peace officers a chance to honor and respect those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty," said Marty Williamson, chief of police at Cal State Bakersfield.

Officers at the service also signed a proclamation marking the week of May 13 as Peace Officer Memorial Week.

Bakersfield California Highway Patrol Capt. Bill Nation addressed the crowd, saying the number of officer deaths nationwide as a result of gunfire jumped 50 percent from 2010 to 2011. Kern County had not lost an officer in the line of duty in the last year, he said.

"It's a reminder to everybody of the dangers of being a law enforcement officer," Nation said.

Williamson said after 33 years in law enforcement, he knows all too well how dangerous the job can be.

"We all come together for this because we're all in the same line of work," Williamson said. "We may have our jurisdictions but when it comes to helping a fallen officer, we all come together."

And come together they did. Officers from McFarland were also present at the ceremony.

McFarland Police Department Sgt. Scot Kimble said the day was very special.

"It's a day to remember our brothers and sisters in this career," he said.

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood also addressed the crowd, saying the law enforcement agencies look at the memorial as a symbol that unifies them.

"You look at this wall, you don't see any color uniform," he said.

Carrie Hudnall, wife of deceased Kern County Sheriff's Deputy Joe Hudnall, spoke about the support she received from the community of officers after her husband died in 2006 the line of duty. Officer Hudnall was transporting a prisoner on what would have normally been his day off when his vehicle was struck, sending it down an embankment.

"Today's memorial is about the celebration of the lives of men who made the ultimate sacrifice," Hudnall said.

About 100 officers and families attended the service.

Kern County Sheriff's Cmdr. Ed Komin said the ceremony was just as important for officers as it was for their families.

"It's important that we do this every year to keep their memory alive," he said.

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