WYOMING — Honor of the force: What is it and when and where did it start?
State police retiree Sgt. Chester Zaremba began his keynote address with that question at the annual Troop P Memorial Service at the Wyoming barracks Monday.
To explain honor, Zaremba focused on the first two troopers killed in the line of duty, Pvt. John F. Henry and Pvt. Francis A. Zehringer, who were both killed in a shooting in Jefferson County on Sept. 2, 1906.
“They were both on the job for nine months,” Zaremba said. “Today, 107 years after their deaths, the sensational coverage of the incident has faded into history.”
According to the Punxsutawney Weekly Spirit newspaper’s coverage, the funeral was attended by hundreds and other troopers marched alongside the horse-drawn carriages.
“Private Henry was unmarried and was survived by only his sister,” Zaremba said. “Private Zehringer was survived by his father. Today, there are no members of their families to remember their sacrifice. But they do have a family and that is us: the active and retired troopers of the Pennsylvania State Police. That is the honor of the force and we are here today so that the honor of the force may be unveiled.”
To date, 97 troopers have been killed in the line of duty since the state police formed on May 2, 1905.
The names of the 10 troopers from Troop P, based in Wyoming, who died or were killed in the line of duty were read by Lt. Richard Krawetz.
Troop P. Commander Capt. James Degnan directed the laying of a wreath at the memorial stone in front of the barracks. “Amazing Grace” was performed on bagpipes by Butch Modzelewski of the Wyoming Valley Pipe & Drum Band; Trooper Jeffrey Lamm played “Taps.”
The Rev. John Boyle, state police chaplain, provided the invocation and benediction.
About 20 state police retirees attended and were called at formation by Degnan to join 36 uniformed troopers to recite the state police “Call of Honor” pledge.
Troop P troopers who have died in the line of duty are:
• Pvt. John Garcia, 30, was shot and killed when arresting a person in Jenkins Township on Feb. 21, 1909.
• Pvt. William J. Omlor, 29, was killed when he lost control of his motorcycle near Pottsville on Oct. 24, 1923.
• Sgt. Edwin F. Haas, 35, died of an accidental shooting on Oct. 17, 1924.
• Patrolman William G. Hamond, 23, was killed when he lost control of his motorcycle while traveling to the Luzerne County Courthouse on July 13, 1930.
• Patrolman Arthur A. Koppenhaver died on July 13, 1930, from injuries from a motorcycle accident on Main Street, Nanticoke, on April 21, 1930.
• First Sgt. James A. Seery, 41, died from a fractured skull suffered in an accident involving a horse on Sept. 10, 1934.
• Pvt. Floyd W. Maderia, 34, was involved in a vehicle accident near Minooka on Dec. 10, 1034, and died the next day from injuries.
• Pvt. John J. Broski, 40, was shot during a robbery at a tavern on East End Boulevard, Wilkes-Barre, on Aug. 14, 1937.
• Pvt. George J. Yashur Jr., 25, died when he was struck by a vehicle while directing traffic on Market Street, Kingston, during a flood on April 1, 1940.
• Trooper Thomas M. Kobeski, 39, died of a heart attack after a court hearing in Pittston on May 3, 2002.