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Valley officers remembered in national ceremony

Friday, May 13, 2011

Reedley Police Officer Javier Bejar and Fresno County Sheriff's Detective Joel Wahlenmaier were remembered by loved ones and strangers alike Friday evening.

The ceremony happened at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims and dozens of her deputies are also there. They travelled 2,300 miles along with family members of the fallen valley officers to honor their sacrifice, along with the sacrifice of other fallen officers from across the country.

"Events like this bring to light the difficulty of our job," said Robert McEwen with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

Each person was in the nation's capitol to remember their fallen hero. Of the 316 new names etched into the memorial this year two are sadly familiar.

"It's a very sad day for us, to remember Wally," said Ryan Gilbert, with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

"This was a horrible gun fight and Javier [Bejar] came to the fight," said Jose Flores.

Deputy Wahlenmaier and Officer Bejar were killed just over a year ago, in a shootout in Minkler.

"We miss him dearly, it brings it back, makes it all real," said Wahlenmaier's sister-in-law Barbie Turner.

Deputy Wahlenmaier's widow, Bev, scratched her pencil along her husband's name, making a keepsake of his memorial to bring back to the Valley.

"He was a good, good guy," Turner said.

Bejar and Wahlenmaier's names are now a permanent part on the memorial wall, along with thousands of other officers from around the country who were killed in the line of duty. Their job, like the jobs of every other officer is dangerous and too often deadly.

"It's not what these guys did when they passed," said Wahlenmaier's friend. "It's how they lead their lives and Joel Wahlenmaier is an example of that, we miss him very much."

The memorial events will continue through the weekend, they end Sunday with a final service and wreath laying ceremony.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
minkler, reedley, fresno county, washington d.c., sheriff margaret mims, local, rick montanez
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