In a simple ceremony marked by the solemn sounds of a 21-gun salute, the ringing of a bell and two buglers playing taps, community leaders and family gathered Wednesday morning outside to remember men and women who have died while employed as firefighters or police officers in Santa Monica.
Held annually in advance of Memorial Day, this year's remembrance honored the 15 who have died in service, the earliest in 1927, either by illness, accident or in the line of duty.
"They served our community with pride, served the rich and poor alike. May time never erase the sacrifices they made," said police chaplain Steve Snook.
Willow Morton, 26, of Valenica, attended the ceremony for the second time in honor of her big brother, Derek Morton. He died in the summer of 2010 after a two-year battle with colon cancer.
"It's nice that they do this," Willow Morton said, a photo of Derek affixed to a ribbon and pinned to her collar. "In the [immediate] aftermath, people remember, but as time passes, it's nice to know people don't forget."
In their speeches, Interim Police Chief Alfonso Venegas and Mayor Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom beseeched the approximately three dozen in attendance to leave the ceremony feeling inspired to serve, and "to live lives of purpose and meaning."
"This is a day to remember those who have left us [for eternity] and those heroes still in uniform," said Venegas. "Their heroism and sacrifice are an inspiration to us all."
Names of the deceased:
Firefighter Manuel Marquez - Nov. 21, 1935
Fire Engineer Phillip J. Michell - June 12, 1945
Firefighter Earl Mammeli - Sept. 11, 1946
Firefighter Edwin W. Cripe - Aug. 30, 1950
Firefighter Jack L. Hone - March 18, 1996
Fire Capt. Daniel M. Bendiksen - March 26, 2001
Motor Officer William Blackett - July 8, 1927
Sgt. Roland “Carl” Morton - March 10, 1933
Special Officer Fredrick Chicago Porter - March 10, 1933
Motor Officer David Louis Kohler - Nov. 2, 1960
Sgt. Ronald A. Wise - Nov. 4, 1965
Officer William Lee Davidson - Aug. 21, 1969
Officer Mitchell Toshiaki Kato - Dec. 9, 1998
Officer Ricardo A. Crocker - May 26, 2005
Officer Derek Morton – Aug. 14, 2010