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At right, Henderson County Sheriff’s Reserve Deputy Denny Ward stands at attention and salutes the U.S. and Texas flags at Tuesday’s County Peace Officer’s Memorial. Standing behind Ward is the Peace Officer’s Association Honor Guard, rifle detail.

In a cool breeze that followed an afternoon storm Tuesday, Henderson County peace officers gathered and recalled some of their darkest hours.

The Henderson County Peace Officers Association conducted its annual memorial service Tuesday, honoring its fallen members. For the first time, the names of Henderson County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Paul Habelt and Deputy Tony Ogburn were added to the list.

Habelt and Ogburn were shot to death as they responded to a disturbance call near Payne Springs on May 17, 2007. Habelt and Ogburn joined the ranks of those killed in the line of duty, a list that also includes Charlie Fields Sr., K.C. Winn, Larry Hopson and Bennie Everett.

The deaths of Habelt and Ogburn came just hours after last year’s peace officers memorial ceremony. This year’s service was moved to accommodate the capital murder trial of the Randall Wayne Mays, who was sentenced to die in Ogburn’s death.

HCPOA Chaplain the Rev. John Green, who spoke at Habelt’s funeral service a year ago, opened the service with a prayer remembering those who “stood as pillars of faith, like soldiers guarding our freedom and making our country a place where our children are safe.”

Peace Officers Association President Billy Jack Valentine said officers such as Habelt, Ogburn and the others on the memorial inspired him in his law enforcement career.

“These men taught us to do our jobs with professionalism and courtesy,” Valentine said. He added that the “outpouring of love” the community has shown the members of the law enforcement community since the shootings has helped them though the trying months that followed.

Guest speaker, 3rd District Court Judge Mark C. Calhoon, said an audio tape recorded the night Mays killed Habelt and Ogburn underscored the amount of courage and professionalism required to work in law enforcement. On the tape, a number of officers, including Ogburn, are heard calmly speaking with Mays.

“Many of those officers are here today. I was blown away by the level competence and professionalism shown on that day by the members of law enforcement in this community,” Calhoon said.

Calhoon said one comment on the tape shone a light on the personality of Ogburn, who commented to Mays about what a beautiful day it was just moments before he was shot. Law officers live daily with the knowledge that any day can quickly turn to tragedy.

Calhoon said the roll call of those officers who’ve died in the line of duty continues on an almost daily basis. Officers were slain, somewhere in the nation, on June 5, June 6, June 14 and June 15. Two were killed on June 3. Last year in Texas, 25 officers were slain.

During the ceremony, two members of the Peace Officers Association who died during the past year were remembered. Malakoff Police Chief George Corn and retired Constable Dr. Nolan Geddie have been added to the memorial this year, as well.

Along with the four newly added names, the list of deceased Peace Officers Association members includes W.C. Perryman, Leon Cain, Dale Bryce, W.C. Fladd, Don Bettencourt, Jack Terrell, Bill Bearden, Ralph M. Reaves, Bennie C. Krueger, Tommy Smith, Herman Kite Jr., Kipper Hartline, Don W. McCord, J.W. Brownlow, Jack Sims, Frank E. LaRue Jr., Stephen L. Combs, Mack Wallace, Thomas C. Underhill, Janey M. Reed, T.E. Williams, Jim Billings, Don Johnson, L.D. Brookshire, David Harris and Daner Stanberry.

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