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Photo by Cpl. Brian A. Tuthill

California police remember fallen officers, Marines

31 Jan 2006 | Cpl. Brian A. Tuthill

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — Nearly 600 police chiefs and officers, family members, guests and Combat Center Marines gathered Jan. 31 for the 29th Annual California Police Chief’s Association conference at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

These senior police officers gather annually at various locations around California to give thanks to continuing efforts and to honor the fallen. Last year, the conference took place in Sacramento. This year, family members of 18 police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty were also present for the event.

The CPCA also took time to remember Combat Center Marines and Sailors who lost their lives in the past year in Iraq. Marine and police color guard units were combined as a symbol of unity between their organizations.

Distinguished guests included, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Palm Springs Mayor Ronald Oden, Brig. Gen. Douglas Stone, Combat Center commanding general and Assistant Secretary of the Navy retired Col. Harvey C. Barnum, a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

As a finale for the conference, attendants gathered outside and watched, police and Marine honor guard details sound dual 21-gun salutes to pay tribute to fallen Combat Center Marines and California police officers while the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Band echoed the stirring notes of “Taps.”

During the playing of the Marine’s Hymn, seven Marines, clad in desert utilities and field gear, sprinted to the front of the crowd carrying an American flag on a long pole. The detail recreated a “living sculpture” of Joe Rosenthal’s famous photograph of the flag-raising atop Mount Suribachi to thunderous applause.

“This gathering is an observance — a memorial — to the many lives lost,” said retired Maj. Patrick Coulter, who served as master of ceremonies for the event. “We will not forget.”