Memorial Day will be observed in less than two weeks, but law enforcement agencies look to Thursday to pay respects to the fallen among their ranks.
National Peace Officers Memorial Day is Thursday during Police Week, and top law enforcement officers in Wilson County planned memorial services and other events to commemorate the annual event.
“We should never forget the sacrifice that law enforcement officers give,” said Sheriff Robert Bryan. “Many have given the ultimate sacrifice. It really hit close to home 11 years ago in this county, and we have seen it happen in Middle Tennessee in the past few weeks.
“We should always support the families of the fallen officers who are there grieving over the loss of a son or daughter, spouse, or mother or father. These officers went to work just as normal people the only difference was they never come home because they were out doing their jobs without hesitation protecting the citizens of their community.”
Lebanon police Chief Scott Bowen echoed Bryan’s sentiments.
“These officers have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our community,” Bowen said. “They deserve to be remembered for their sacrifice. These officers are true heroes.
“I hope everyone takes the time this week to thank the officers of our community for their service. We are very blessed to have such exceptional officers working in Wilson County.”
The following is a list of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in Wilson County:
• Lebanon police Chief Robert Nolen – On March 16, 1916, Nolen died as a result of a gunshot wound sustained the previous day when he and another officer tried to arrest a man wanted for bootlegging at his home.
• Wilson County Sheriff’s Deputy John Oakley – On Jan. 3, 1923, Oakley died as a result of a gunshot wound to the abdomen sustained four days earlier. Oakley and the city marshal went to a home to arrest a suspect on a state warrant. While inside the home, the suspect’s son shot Oakley.
• Wilson County Sheriff’s Deputy Millard Brown and Constable Ben Northern – On Sept. 4, 1932, Brown and Northern were shot and killed while attempting to arrest a youth involved in a fight with another youth. When they arrived at the youth’s home, they found him sitting on the porch holding a shotgun. The boy complied with their order to put down the weapon. As Northern bent down to pick up the shotgun, someone inside the home shot him with another shotgun. The original suspect attempted to flee but was caught by Brown. As they started walking back to the home, Brown was also shot and killed. Northern’s son, who had accompanied them, ran to notify the county sheriff and a deputy. The sheriff responded to the scene and arrested the youth and the suspect who shot both men.
• Wilson County Sheriff Harold Griffin – On April 6, 1954, Griffin was shot and killed while attempting to serve a warrant to assist a woman retrieving furniture from her husband’s home. The husband opened fire, killing Griffin and wounding his wife and a bystander. The suspect was arrested while trying to take his wife to the hospital.
• State Trooper Oscar Morris – On May 9, 1956, Morris was struck and killed by a drunk driver while giving directions to another driver on Highway 70 in Lebanon. The driver then fled the scene. After checking on Morris, a college student who he was giving a ride to, got behind the wheel of the police car and chased the suspect. The student was able to stop the suspect and hold him until other officers arrived.
• Wilson County Sheriff’s Sgt. Wiley Williams – On Jan. 25, 1974, Williams suffered a fatal heart attack while struggling with two male suspects. During the struggle, a shot was fired, which did not strike Williams. The suspects fled the scene but were arrested after an extensive search by area law enforcement.
• Wilson County Sheriff’s Deputy John Musice and Mt. Juliet Police Sgt. Jerry Mundy – On July 9, 2003, Musice and Mundy were struck and killed by a vehicle pursued by officers on Interstate 40 as they attempted to lay down stop sticks near exit 226. On June 30, 2004, the vehicle’s driver was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and received two life sentences.