Among the six new names memorialized in granite Tuesday at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Brunswick is that of Kenneth Doyle, Deputy United States Marshal.
Doyle died on July 26 last year of cancer, the final result of standing with his federal law enforcement badge at Ground Zero in Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001. Sitting up front in the auditorium of FLETC’s Building 912 were his widow, Carolyn Doyle, and his daughter, Meaghann Doyle-Abbate.
The 500-seat venue was filled to capacity for the Peace Officers Memorial Day ceremony as fellow officers, dignitaries and regular folks paid tribute to Doyle and the other five federal officers who died in the line of duty in 2017. The other fallen federal officers honored were U.S. Department of Transportation officer David J. Hoefler, IRS criminal investigator Alex Moran, Immigration and Naturalization Service Border Patrol Agent Lawrence B. Pierce, and Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol agents Rogelio Martinez and Isaac Morales.
“Today we honor the badge,,” said John D. Fort, Chief of Criminal Investigation for the IRS and the event’s keynote speaker. “We salute those who came before us and we honor those who passed away in the line of duty.”
Martinez died of gunshot wounds suffered Nov. 19 near Van Horn, Texas. Morales died from wounds suffered May 20 in a struggle with an attacker at an El Paso, Texas, restaurant. Pierce was fatally stabbed Aug. 17 when he intervened to stop an attacker with a knife in San Ysidro, Calif. Moran and Hoefler both suffered fatal heart attacks in the line of duty last year.
“We are proud to be here to honor those whose commitment to protect and to serve was absolute,” FLETC Director Thomas J Walters told those gathered.
Among those gathered were folks who share the commitment to serve that inspired Martinez and Pierce and the other four to wear that federal badge. Many on hand were FLETC students who took a break from training for the hour-long ceremony, including an Immigration Customs Enforcement agent wearing a field backpack and holstered handgun.
More than 60,000 federal law enforcement officers go through training at the center annually, representing more than 90 agencies. The ceremony included a solemn reading of all 225 FLETC graduates who have fallen in the line of duty since 1970.
Among those is Jacksonville native Jason Panides, a Border Patrol agent who was killed in a vehicle crash in 2001 while in pursuit of a suspect. His mother, Rose Panides-Kaiser, attended the ceremony to keep his memory alive and to support the families of other fallen federal officers.
“It’s very important for us to come to honor Jason, but also to honor all of law enforcement,” said Panides-Kaiser. “I don’t think the everyday citizen realizes how much law enforcement families go through. And any way we can honor those who have given their lives among present law enforcement officers, that’s what we want to do today.”
A procession of federal officers led by a bagpiper playing Amazing Grace laid a wreath at the granite panel where 2017’s honorees are immortalized in stone. Doyle’s widow and daughter, the only family members of the 2017 honorees who were able to attend, stood somberly and looked on.
The granite panel on which the six are enshrined is the latest of nine panels that comprise the FLETC Graduates Memorial at the entrance to the 912 Building. The names of the seven FLETC graduates who died in 2016 sit above them at the top of this panel. Below their names, the granite is smooth all the way to its base. In a few years, when this panel is full, a new one will be added to the memorial.
“We live with the reality that this time next year there will likely be another two or more names on that panel,” Director Walters said after the ceremony. “We hope this institution can honor their sacrifice by committing ourselves to providing the utmost training to ensure these officers coming through here are prepared to the utmost.”
Also during the ceremony, Glynn County Sheriff Neal Jump read the names of some 50 local police officers and state law enforcement agents who have died in the line of service. No new names were added to that list this year.