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Officer Bejar and Deputy Wahlenmaier remembered in nation's capitol

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hundreds of peace officers who have died in the line of duty were remembered Sunday in the nation's capitol, including two of the Valley's own.

Fresno County Sheriff's Detective Joel Wahlenmaier and Reedly Police Officer Javier Bejar were both killed last year during a shootout in Minkler.

Dozens of officers and deputies from the Valley were in Washington D.C. Sunday to honor the two Valley officers killed last year.

They also paid tribute to the other 314 officers from around the country who dedicated their lives to public service but were killed in the line of duty.

The flag flies at half staff in front of the capitol dome for the annual National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

"It's just the brotherhood that you see amongst everybody, everybody is here to pay homage to the fallen," Eric Schmidt said.

"It's not a ceremony you want to attend as a sheriff, because it means that you did lose somebody very precious to you, somebody very important to our community," Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said.

Thousands marched in a procession before the ceremony.

Each family member, each officer and deputy, here to keep the memory of their hero alive.

Two people in particular are from here in the Valley.

Officer Bejar and Deputy Wahlenmaier were killed in February of last year during a shoot out in Minkler.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims had the tough job of breaking the news to Deputy Wahlenmaier's wife.

"He had kissed his family goodbye that morning, fully expecting to come home from work and he didn't."

Bejar and Wahlenmaier family members each had a chance to walk up to the wreath to honor their loved ones.

The names of the 316 officers added to the memorial this year are etched into a memorial wall.

"It's just amazing to see everybody from the nation can come together, not just the state or local, so it's humbling, very humbling."

This national memorial service began 30 years ago and since then the names of about 19,000 fallen officers have been added to that wall in Washington D.C.

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

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