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41st Anniversary Honoring Ron Parker

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The flag is lowered during Ron Parker Day. photo 2016

Remembering A Hero

On a beautiful day in St Augustine Beach, over 100 people stood to honor the memory of Deputy Ron Parker at the Ron Parker Memorial. Located on Pope Road, the memorial is there in remembrance for visitors, both young and old, to the Ron Parker Memorial Recreation Park.

Deputy Ron Parker, a St Augustine Beach police officer, was killed in the line of duty on January 12, 1974. Shot by outlaw Thomas DeSherlia, who was wanted for murder and bank robbery in Iowa, Parker was dragged from his car and left to die as DeSherlia tried to escape in Parker’s patrol car. A gun battle with St Johns County deputies followed and DeSherlia was captured. DeSherlia died in prison in 2013.

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Law enforcement stand in honor of a fallen fellow officer. photo 2016

Members of the St Augustine Beach Police Department, St Johns County Law Enforcement, St Augustine Police Department, St Johns County Fire and Rescue, St Johns County Crossing Guards, Clay County Police Department, dignitaries from the state and the local community as well as members of the community, spent the morning honoring Ron Parker and the greatest sacrifice he made, giving up his life while protecting his community.

Chaplin Jeff Gatlin welcomed everyone with a prayer and a story. “My heart beats everyday for the men and women who get up everyday to serve,” shared Gatlin. “These officers stood for everything I stand for.”

Gatlin reminded the people in attendance of the Bible verse-John 15:13: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. With heads bowed, a prayer for protection was said for all to ponder.

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Chief Hardwick addresses the crowd. photo 2016

SAB Chief Hardwick welcomed the crowd, “We have your backs when you are sleeping at night,” he explained. “We have a tough year ahead. Law enforcement are facing new challenges. We have had our share of gun battles in St Johns County…you just don’t understand,” he said with conviction, “You don’t understand!”

According to Hardwick, the funding received for bullet proof vests has come about because of Ron Parker’s death. A vest was what save the life of Clay County Deputy, Matthew Hanlin. Hanlin was wounded in a meth lab raid in 2012. His partner Detective David White was shot and killed during the raid. “I love to see ceremonies where real heroes are honored,” said Hanlin as he shared his story about the raid.

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Bandy’s widow is embraced by police chief. photo 2016

Also honored at the ceremony was former St Augustine Beach Police Chief Arnold Bandy. Bandy passed away last year at the age of 82. Chief Bandy served as the beach chief for over 24 years and helped the department grow from their offices at the pier to the present police station on A1A. Bandy’s widow was on hand to accept the honor.

Brenda Parker was once again in attendance to thank the crowd and honor the memory of her husband. She shared her story of her involvement with the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C. Every year she is honored to attend that evens for National Peace Officers Day held in May. This memorial wall, features the names of close to 20,000 law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty, including Parker.

Last year the Police Unity Tour a motorcycle club rode to Washington D.C. with Deputy Ron Parker’s badge and photograph. “They rode for those who died,” said Parker standing in front of the memorial as the flag bellowed behind her at half-staff. Following Parker speech, two Flagler students were named to accept the Ron Parker Scholarship established in memory of Deputy Parker.

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Vice Mayor Undine George. photo 2016

As the red, white and blue flew over the memorial on the crisp morning, Vice Mayor Undine George took the podium. She was there to officially thank the law enforcement officers on hand. “That sacrifice is the greatest sacrifice and demonstration of love,” she said. “We will never forget it.”

To See More Photos: RON PARKER 2016 PHOTOS