Photos by Stephanie Rivera.
Long Beach officials gathered around the city’s police and fire memorial Tuesday morning for an annual ceremony paying tribute to police officers and firefighters who died in the line of duty over the years. This time differed from the past however, in that they added a name long overdue.
William Homer Waggoner was honored, along with 28 other police officers and 13 firefighters. Thanks to historical research done by personnel from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD), it was discovered that Waggoner’s death in 1954 was a result of injuries sustained during a gun battle while on duty 24 years earlier.
The officer and his partner had apparently interrupted a group of associates of Chicago mobster Al Capone who were in the middle of carrying out a kidnapping for ransom, Long Beach Police Department officials said.
“We are grateful that we can now formally honor Officer William Waggoner,” said Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna. “This is a living memorial where, unfortunately, it is never really finished."
Mayor Robert Garcia thanked the family members of those who had fallen for sharing their loved ones with the community.
"We thank you as well for your sacrifice," Garcia said. "The sacrifice as a parent, as a spouse, as a child, that you had to make, as well as your family, to keep us and our community safe."
Rep. Janice Hahn told the crowd of about 50 that the annual event was a reminder of the dangers officers and firefighters face everyday.
"No one said that your jobs would be easy, nevertheless each of you chose to take this heavy duty upon yourselves," Hahn said. "A demonstration of bravery that few of us can even imagine.”
“This badge is a mere symbol to some but to those who wear this badge, police officers and firefighters, it represents far more,” said Fire Chief Mike DuRee. “It represents a willingness to sacrifice self in service to another. It represents a willingness to run toward danger while others flee.”
The event also marked the last time the ceremony would take place at the current site of the memorial. The memorial will be decommissioned with plans to create another one at the new civic center, according to Fire Deputy Chief Rich Brandt. City personnel will begin removing the current memorial in June, Brandt said.
Fallen Long Beach police officers include:
Thomas C. Borden, 1912; Major J.R. Wilkinson, 1923; Robert H. Halstead, 1926; George A. Walls, 1928; Ralph A. Morgan, 1931; William L. MacLean, 1934; Delbert P. Buckman, 1940; Engebrit Larson, 1942; Sylvia Sievers, 1943; Harold W. Irwin, 1945; Cecil W. Singer, 1945; Marlin L. Evans, 1949; Jesse M. Ream, 1950; Robert M. Morgan, 1950; William H. Waggoner, 1954; Frederick W. Walsh, 1957; Vernon J. Owings, 1960; Richard R. LeFebvre, 1965; Robert G. Smith, 1965; William L. Isham, 1967; Donald V. Knott, 1967; Robert R. Birdsall, 1975; Franke N. Lewis, 1975; Gary O. Elkins, 1976; Lloyd M. Lund, 1981; Karl D. Simons, 1996; Daryle W. Black, 2000 and Edward R. Davenport, 2003.
Fallen Long Beach firefighters include:
Joseph E. Shrewsbury, 1916; H. Stanley Ellis, 1924; E.L. Howard, 1925; Forrest Reynolds, 1928; Percy Forker, 1933; A.B. Stephens, 1933; George M. Jewels, 1938; Marc H. Mims, 1951; Frank G. Wood, 1953; Kent Holliday, 1964; Eddie Rickley, 1969; Gary L. Abrams, 1972 and Theodore F. Klobuchar, 1974.
Retired DEA Michael Stokes, the grandson of Patrolman William Wagonner, holds a shadowbox carrying the fallen officer's personal items that is on loan to the LBPD.