By Rex Evans
This young man, a Husband, a Father, A Trooper was murdered yesterday, Thanksgiving Day 2017. While many were traveling the many Texas Highways and Byways headed to and from their loved ones, this man, like so many Troopers, Deputies and Officers, did what he always did. He left his family to go out into a very tough, difficult and cold world to protect your family.
It all started, for Damon, about 15 years ago. He put in his application. He went thru the very arduous process of being accepted to the DPS Academy in Austin. And there, he began an entirely new adventure, a new chapter in his life.
Shaved head. Bland tan uniforms. Ties and polished boots, even in the middle of August, thank you. Push ups, miles and miles of scenic tours of the Texas Hill Country (via foot power). Hours of studying, classroom work, homework, months away from his family and friends.
Yet, something happens in those 26 weeks or so to a man, a woman, who is willing to accept the challenge and endure the pain, the hardships, the near seemingly endless hours, days, weeks and months of this new life they’ve chosen. A bond is formed like no other. A bond which, no matter where you are assigned, how far up the Chain of Command you rise, no matter what, from the Graduation Date on, you are a part of a Family and your Class, your fellow Cadets, now Texas State Troopers are forevermore seared into a Brotherhood and Sisterhood which will never, ever be shaken or torn apart. For those whom live to Retirement, those bonds remain, even after all those years. Just like the sands of an old hour glass…
Then, there are, and shall always be, by the very inherent nature of the job, those of our Ranks who shall slip their Earthly Binds and rise to the Heavens above, while their life is given in the Line of Duty. Many a broken heart shall come together. A line of one shall form and the ceremonial edicts of a Peace Officers Memorial shall forth come. Tears will fall. Hearts will break. And, a longing for his laughter, his friendship, his life shall flow throughout those gathered upon the solemn Gardens of Stone.
This career, may seem as lonely as the night. This is the truth. A lone Trooper, Deputy, Officer rides thru the darkness of night alone. Bound by radio to a Dispatcher so many miles away. Back up, if any, is equally far from your side. And yet, we choose this life, going forward and do what we all do. Contact after contact. Call after call. Good times, funny-crazy calls. It’s all there for those willing to accept it.
Then, there are those crashes where we must push ourselves to take the measurements, take the photographs, write the notes and then, as gently, respectfully and reverently as we can, lift a small child from the burned wreckage and place them into a hearse. Painful is this moment. Many a sleepless night have I endure from the sights, sounds, smells I have been put through in this career.
Yet, I learned, over time, to accept the bad, embrace the good and do this job I chose to do with all of my heart. Even if, until it’s last heartbeat, my last breath of air. I will do what I so solemnly swore to do all those years ago. An Oath, which meant and shall forevermore mean the world to me. Even after I am gone.
Damon went to work yesterday, Thanksgiving Day 2017, like so many of us. He left his Wife, three children, his family that morning to do what he loved and swore to do. He never hesitated, never faltered in this, his calling. A calling he, with all of his heart, stood up answering, saying;
“Send me, Lord. I will go”
While his life here may have ended, his life’s story remains behind, demanding to be told. Taken and cut oh so many years short by another, he and Deputy Eric Overall from Michigan, both gave their lives yesterday in the Line of Duty. Both trying to stop the evil which dwells upon this Earth, for the common good of others. Both men, I truly believe with all of my heart, were greeted at the gates of Heaven above by all of those who’ve gone before them. I truly and sincerely believe, that thin veil of protection which separates the good from evil, the one we call “The Thin Blue Line”, extends even unto the Heavens Above.
For many a call have we all answered. Standing at the ready, should we be called upon to do so, even answer our Last Call.
I, like all of you, never wish for this. Yet, equally I would, without question, hesitation or reservation lay down my life for you. And yes, I know, just as Damon new, we would all do the same for him, too.
Damon may have passed away on the side of that damned old highway yesterday afternoon. But, with all the Faith I have, I believe this, he did not pass away alone. For in his heart, just as in mine and all of yours, we know this fact to be true…
No one stands alone upon this Line, we hold so dearly.
God’s speed, Troop. Fear not and rest easy now. All the contacts and calls from here on ever more, we’ve got em.