Organization strives to remember law enforcement
For the men and women that dedicate their lives to serve and protect, they make a sacrifice like no other, as these brave individuals give their lives to defend their communities day in and day out. For Moss Bluff resident and retired Baytown Police officer Bert Sims, recognizing his fellow officers’ sacrifice has become a mission. Sims feels strongly that no matter who the officer was, how long they served, and the circumstances surrounding that service, they need to be remembered and know someone is there for them.
Sims’s dedication to his fellow law enforcement community grew from a reunion several years ago for the Baytown Police Department.
“We had an attendance of some 85 former and retired officers and their spouses. We realized others had been forgotten, or we had lost track of them. We decided that no officer should ever be forgotten and made it our quest to locate and honor all that had gone before,” said Sims.
From there, Sims was well on his way to the formation of Operation Blue Remembrance, to recognize and remember his fellow law enforcement members, not just in Baytown but across Texas. OBR focuses on those that gave their lives in the line of duty while also taking the time to remember those that left the world by other means.
“Our primary purpose is twofold. Number one is to help support the families of deceased officers, especially right after that event has occurred in any way we can,” Sims continued, “The second and probably the most prevalent is that we want to make sure that officers, especially those killed in the line of duty are not forgotten.”
OBR works tirelessly by visiting the individual gravesites of fallen officers, marking each one they visit with a Texas flag as a gesture to say those individuals are not forgotten. Just this year alone, Sims has traveled over 30,000 miles visiting the graves of fallen officers. Sims is usually joined in his travels by Dale Angerstein, who serves as Director of Operations for OBR. The pair photograph and document the gravesites and do some cleaning, if necessary, while on their visits.
There have been 2,147 police officers killed in the line of duty in Texas, with the earliest on record dating back to 1839. Of those, OBR has located and visited 675, while there is no burial information on 234, and 53 have been cremated. OBR has officially accounted for 962, with 1,185 remaining for the organization to visit.
Locally there have been six fallen officers on record, and OBR has officially accounted for each one. Five of those officers are Wilburn Junior Agy, David Eugene King, Odell McDuffie Jr, Jesse Earl McFarland III, and Richard Edward Whitten; all were members of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Department. The group has also paid tribute to fallen Dayton Night Watchman Louis L. “Frenchy” Cashat Sr., who was tragically murdered while on patrol in 1950.
OBR also is there to assist in placing headstones for officers that do not have them, as well as assistance with burial sites for those families in need of such a service. Currently, they have four cemetery plots that have been donated and can be made available if needed.
“We don’t care how their career ended. We are here to commemorate the good they have done,” said Sims.
OBR’s efforts also try and assist the living when possible, with special needs, and that assistance is made available to any retired law enforcement officer. Sims emphasized that helping his fellow officers was essential to the group’s mission.
“We want folks to know we are here to help if they need it,” said Sims.
OBR has now expanded to service more than just Texas, with chapters in Colorado, Kansas, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and most recently Delaware.
To help out in the mission of OBR, check out the group’s website at operationblueremembrance.org, or find their group on Facebook by searching Operation Blue Remembrance Group. You will find more information on fallen officers, with their Hero of the Day posts and information on making donations online. OBR also accepts donations by mail at 7789 FM 563, Liberty, TX 77575. For more details, you can contact OBR at 936-256-3310.