Proclaimed by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, May 15 of each year is designated Police Memorial day.
“This day we recognize the officers of our community and nation that have given the ultimate sacrifice in the service to their communities,” said Chief Paul Blackwell. “Five officers have given their lives in the service to Tullahoma.”
This is a special ceremony because the department will unveil a memorial for Tullahoma’s fallen officers. This ceremony will recognize the five officers and unveil a monument recognizing their sacrifice. The monument was made possible due to the generous donations from citizens, businesses, and churches that the officers serve.
“Although the day is set aside to honor those that have fallen, we, as members of our community, should also honor those that have and are still serving,” said Chief Blackwell. “Their greatest fear is the unknown, and their goal each day is to return to their families when the tour of duty is over.”
Any questions about this or other police operations may be directed to Chief Paul Blackwell at (931) 455-0530.
Two of the city’s officers, as well as a state trooper, were killed in an incident that took place on Dec. 3, 1934.
Officer James Flippo was killed on Sept. 5, 1936. Two officers, Henry Travis and Clifford Riddle, were killed on Sept. 26, 1970 when their car was hit head-on on Highway 55 while the pair was returning to Tullahoma after transporting a suspect to the Coffee County Jail. Travis was killed instantly, and Riddle was in coma until his death on Oct. 10, 1987.
Thanks to donations from the community, a 5-foot tall granite marker will be installed at the flagpole outside the civic center. The monument will bear the names of the officers and a new sidewalk leading to and from the marker has been installed.
Blackwell said the fundraising drive collected enough donations to purchase the monument, but the effort is ongoing in order to expand the memorial in the future. The fundraising effort is being led by the police chaplains. First Church of the Nazarene Pastor Elbert Smith, president of the Tullahoma Ministerial Alliance, agreed to lead the effort, with the assistance of Tim Keller, Blackwell said. Any funds remaining after the memorial is in place will be donated to Concerns of Police Survivors, or C.O.P.S., a national organization that assists the children of slain officers. Donation checks, payable to the Tullahoma Ministerial Alliance, can be mailed to P.O. Box 687, Tullahoma, TN 37388. Donors are asked to note that the check is for the police memorial on the memo line. Donations will also be accepted at the police department.
(Thanks to the Tullahoma News for portions of this story)