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Excerpts from the June 1982 edition of the "Thin Gray Line":

 

Sacrificed

To Those Who Sacrificed

BY THE TGL STAFF

The danger is there, and no one came on the job without knowing it. There are the high speed pursuits that can end, if something goes wrong, with a cruiser hurtling into an abutment with a force that generates nearly a million foot pounds of energy, an impact that would take 2,500 .357 Magnum slugs to duplicate.

There are the mad dogs who live outside society's laws prepared to shoot a policeman in the most cowardly fashion to prevent having to answer for their crimes. There are the psychotics who have failed all their lives, blame it on the System, and take it out on the unsuspecting trooper who, because he wears the distinctive uniform that marks the Thin Gray Line, becomes the embodiment of the hated Establishment.

Since the organization of the Kentucky State Police in 1948, twenty-one men have made the ultimate sacrifice of their profession, and died suddenly and violently in the line of their sworn duty to make Kentucky safe for its citizens.

It is to these men that this first issue of THIN GRAY LINE magazine is most respectfully dedicated...

Harold Jackson Toll, Sr.

Was the first to die for Kentucky's Bureau of State Police. He rolled out of Post 12, Frankfort, to answer a call for assistance. He never made it. He died in a crash en route to the scene. Toll was 34. He died on November 14, 1948. He had been a trooper for only three months.

Robert Renaker Miller

Was unmarried and had no children. The State Police was his life. He was approaching his third anniversary as a trooper on Valentine's Day, 1951, when he raced to answer a call for assistance in Boone County. He died in the twisted wreckage of his cruiser. He was 23 years old.

Lee Trebu Huffman

Was a month shy of his second year with Post 4, E-town, when he exited his vehicle to help accident victims. He was struck by another vehicle. Trooper Huffman was 27 when he died, widowing his wife Christola and orphaning his son Tommy Lee.

Herbert Clayton Bush

In 1958 Richmond's Post 7 had everything to live for: his wife Lilian, 29, and children Herbert Clayton Bush Jr., 3, Charles, 13, and Sharon, 11. He was in high speed pursuit when his cruiser was struck by another vehicle. Death claimed him with only 16 months behind the badge he loved.

William Everett Tevis

The first trooper to be murdered in the line of duty was William Everett Tevis of London's Post 11. Fatally shot while making an arrest, he was just over four years into his career when he died. He was 26. At the funeral were his widow Roberta and sons William, James, and Robert, ages 8, 6, and 3. According to Department of Personnel records, the disposition of the circumstances of his death remains "unknown".

Elmer Mobley, Jr.

Was 33 years old and a four year trooper the night he went to answer a call for assistance for the last time in Pikeville's Post 9. He was involved in a fatal accident while en route. His widow Jeanette, was 30, and his son Stephen was 9.

Cecil Walter Uzzle

Badge # 600, was 29 and single the day he responded to a call for assistance in Pikeville in 1964. Death claimed the rescuer in the form of a car crash. Uzzle had just completed his second year with the Kentucky State Police.

Delano Glenn Powell

Post 13, Hazard, was shot to death while serving a warrant in Breathitt County. He was 28, his wife Barbara was 23, and his son Stewart was 3. His badge was only 18 months old when a killer stained it with the young trooper's life's blood. According to personnel, the disposition of the case is listed officially as "Unknown."

Mack Edward Brady

Made it the longest so far. The post 16, Henderson trooper had been employed for 15 years and 4 months when he got a fateful call for assistance on November 9, 1966. He died in a car crash en route. Brady was 40, his wife Barbara was 36, and their children Karen and Mack II were 17 and 15.

William Harrel Barrett

Put in four years and four months, only to be ambushed by a cowardly assassin on December 9, 1971. Barrett was 35 when he died, and his wife Thelma was 27. His sons Mark Anthony and William Micheal were Il and 9. None of them yet know who made them widow and orphans; the case remains filed as "Ambushed, Unknown Assailant."

James Willard McNeely

Worked out of Headquarters, Frankfort on April 8, 1972. He had 16 years on the job, and a daughter Leatha, 14. On that date he left Leatha and his wife Mary, 34, and never came back. He was working a flood rescue mission in Franklin County when the raging tide of water overwhelmed him. His personnel file, filled with commendations and thank-you letters, ends with the curt statement, Disposition: Drowning Accident.

Walter Orville Thurtell

Had a wife named Shirley, a son Gordon who was 16, and a daughter, Carla, Il. He was 42 and had almost 15 years behind the badge when he responded to a call for assistance in Bowling Green Post's Logan County. An accident claimed him en route.

Joseph Ward Jr.

Had made the job his wife and family for four years and a month when he responded to an auto accident in Hopkins County. The car came out of nowhere and struck the Post 2 trooper. He was 25 years old at the moment of his death.

William Carter Smith

Died three days afterward in 1973. The 45 year old Bowling Green lieutenant was shot on November 10 of the previous year while attempting to arrest a murder suspect in Warren County. The wounds he suffered took five months to claim his life. The emotional scars probably never healed for his wife Margie, 42, and his son Bill, 8. Lt. Smith had served for 23 years and 9 months at the time of his death.

John Wayne Hutchinson

On June 4, 1975, Trooper John Wayne Hutchinson of Post 11, London sustained fatal gunshot wounds while attempting an arrest in McCreary County. His career had lasted only two years and two months when the gunfire cut it so brutally and tragically short. It was a comfort to Hutchinson's widow Janet, 22, that her husband's killer was slain in the same exchange of shots.

Bobby Allen McCoun Jr.

Three months later, in Pikeville, Bobby Allen McCoun Jr. of Post 9 lost his life at the Pikeville jail. He hadn't begun a family yet, nor had he completed his first year on the job before one of the deadly occupational hazards of law enforcement caught him up. McCoun's death was ruled as an accidental shooting.

William Francis Pickard

In January of '76, E-town trooper William Francis Pickard was shot to death while serving a warrant in Larue County. He was 26, and had been a trooper less than four years. Fourteen months later, his widow Mary, 22, accepted his posthumous Governor's Medal for Valor.

Willis Durwood Martin

Lt. Willis Durwood Martin died in April of '77 in a car crash while working out of E-town's post 4. The tragedy ended a career that had begun in 1957. He left his wife Hazel and his 15-yearold son, Mark.

Clinton Eugene Cunningham

In February of 1979, Tpr. Clinton Eugene Cunningham was fatally shot in a cowardly ambush that ended his 34 months of service with an agency he loved.

Edward Ray Harris

Edward Ray Harris was shot to death while attempting to make an arrest in Larue County. The 29 year old trooper left his wife Brenda, 28, and children Theron, 10, Bobbie Jo, 7, and Edward, 2. More than a year after the slaying, Harris was posthumously awarded the Kentucky State Police Commendation, the Kentucky State Police Guthrie Crowe Medal, and the Kentucky State Police Medal for Meritorious Service. He had been a trooper for seven years and seven months.

Harris did not live to know that the wake of his death, and the shooting death of his alleged murderer, would become a bizarre media circus that, ultimately, would in a very real sense lead to the death of yet another brave Kentucky State Policeman.

Jerome Scott "Butch" Clifton

Jerome Scott "Butch" Clifton was 30 years old when he took a bullet in the leg while trying to rescue hostages from a crazed gunman in Pikeville in 1980. He suffered agonizingly for the two weeks before his death. He had become a trooper at 21. Receiving the Guthrie Crowe medal for him posthumously were his widow Freda, 29, and his daughters, Lisa, 8, and Anglia, 3.

Darrell Vendl Phelps

Darrell Vendl Phelps was the last to die behind the badge. He was 34 when he was cut down in a hail of gunfire as a State Police team moved through a marijuana field. The detective had logged more than a dozen years on the State Police when his wife Gale, 32, and his daughter Tammy, 14, and son Daren, 9, lost him.

Twenty-one brave men, who died in the service of the citizens of their state. Twenty-one men who set examples of courage and determination that have inspired thousands of men who wear the proud gray uniform. Twenty-one men who should be legend within their service.

For each one's sacrifice, there was an equal legacy. The death of Tpr. Clifton accelerated a program of Special Response Team training throughout the Kentucky State Police, training that is being filtered to everyone in the uniform. The martyrdom of Det. Phelps has resulted in the creation of a model Officer Down policy that may well, in the future, keep a number of Kentucky State Policemen alive.

Over the years, how many thousand times did a Kentucky State Policeman remember the troopers who were hit by cars, and take a moment to stand in a more safe position when he was at an accident scene in bad light conditions? No one knows the exact number. But we know that there are troopers out there reading this magazine who can remember close calls that might have taken their lives in situations like that, had not the deaths of those troopers been fresh in their minds, ghostly warning lights of benevolent action.

The sacrifice and the legacy. You have to look at both to access the true meaning of those twenty-one funerals, and to know why those brave men died in vain.

You have to look at their faces, faces sometimes of men who died before you were born, to understand it. You have to know the names and ages of their wives and children for it to come home to you that they sacrificed the same things that you build your whole world around. Only after that do you learn the ultimate, brutal lesson they died to teach you---the lesson that has kept so many uncounted Kentucky State Troopers alive.

They died tragically, like the heroes they were. But brother troopers learned from those sacrifices, and lived. Those living troopers are a monument far more sacred to the memory of the fallen State Policemen than the most precious metal ever minted.

THIN GRAY LINE magazine dedicates its first issue to the memory if those men, and to those who will inevitably follow.

THIN GRAY LINE wishes to thank the Department of Personnel, the Public Affairs Office, and the Academy Photo Lab for their outstanding cooperation in making this article possible.

 

Johnny Edrington, December 21, 1988.

Jonathan Leonard, December 19, 2006.

 


Web site note: Photos may be seen on our Honor Roll page.

 


(This article was written for the SUMMER 1982 issue. Since then, two more names have been added).


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