Law enforcement officials paid tribute to their comrades here in Texoma Monday, who’ve paid the ultimate price during the line of duty.
They gathered with members of the community for the 2018 Wichita Falls Police Department memorial service.
This marks 50 years since the death of officer Walter “Eddie” Rappolee, Jr. and his colleague Robert Fellows.
They were dispatched in downtown Wichita Falls in 1968 to the scene of a massive fire, to a building previously condemned in August of that year.
Both Fellows and Rappolee were crushed to death by a collapsing wall of that building.
“It never changes. It’s always there,” said Kiddy Boswell, widow of Walter Rappolee.
Rappolee’s widow said ceremonies like Monday’s help emphasize the gravity of a law enforcement officials’ work.
“It’s comforting in its way. It probably would be a lot easier to forget and not deal with it all the time, but that’s not part of it when you are married to an officer,” stated Boswell.
Although he has not lost a spouse in the line of duty, Wichita Falls Police Chief Manuel Borrego has experienced his own loss.
“I was actually on the SWAT team during the year 1989, when Lieutenant [Walter Tommy] Collins was shot and killed.
In July of that year, Collins was one of the officers who responded to a call on the east side of Wichita Falls for someone firing at construction workers.
Three officers were shot. Lieutenant Collins was fatally shot.
Chief Borrego said that affected him as well as the community.
“We don’t forget. We still remember. We still honor them annually to make sure they’re never forgotten,” Borrego said.
There were 135 officers in the U.S. who died in the line of duty in 2017; 14 of those officers were from Texas.