ELKHART — In an emotional gathering at the RiverWalk in downtown Elkhart, police and firefighters honored those who died or were injured in the line of duty.
The Elkhart police and fire departments held their annual memorial ceremony in honor of Peace Officers’ Memorial Day on Wednesday, May 15, at noon. The ceremony included the reading of a city resolution by Mayor Dick Moore, a 21-gun salute and a performance of taps.
“We pause every year to remember their sacrifice and faithful service,” explained Capt. Michael Stuff during his opening remarks. “They reported to work without knowing what the day would bring them at the end of their shift.”
Elkhart Police chaplain Jim Bontrager talked about the need for heroes and their sacrifice. He also made a point to salute the police and firefighters who are still on duty.
Stuff read the names of the five Elkhart police officers who have died while on duty from 1888 to 2009.
Willard Burton, 1888
Oren Shelmadine, 1920
Henry Wentz, 1924
Douglas Adams, 2001
Michael Swygart, 2009
During the ceremony, those in attendance were asked to keep in mind a fellow police officer who had recently experienced a loss. Cpl. Robert Roa’s wife, Eustolia Arellano, died in a car accident early Wednesday morning just south of Middlebury.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family,” said Stuff.
Roa has worked at the Elkhart Police Department for about 20 years.
The Goshen Police Department also held a memorial ceremony Wednesday at 7 p.m. in front of the Goshen Police offices at 111 E. Jefferson St.
During Goshen’s memorial ceremony, officers remembered Patrolman Thomas Goodwin, who was shot and killed in December of 1998. Goodwin is the only Goshen police officer who has died in the line of duty.