'I Have Truly Known Heroes': Reflections on Serving With Fallen Heroes Honored on the INL Memorial Wall

Posted by Walter Redman
June 12, 2014
Secretary Kerry Participates in the Dedication of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Memorial Wall

We can never bring back those we have lost, but we can honor their service and their spirit.  Today, Secretary Kerry led a ceremony dedicating a Memorial Wall at the State Department to honor 87 heroes who gave their lives while trying to make the world a safer place.   I was lucky enough to know some of the fallen and I am humbled by their sacrifice.

I traveled to Iraq in March 2004 for the purpose of training the Iraqi Police.  For the next four years, I focused on training and developing of thousands of Iraqi Police and other civilian security forces from the Iraqi Ministry of Interior.  I also became associated with hundreds of American and international police trainers and advisors who were also serving in the mission. Their stories are all unique, but each of these individuals wanted to make a difference. 

In 2005, I became the Director of Police Training at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.  When I greeted new groups of police trainers and advisors joining the mission, I would often ask individuals why they chose to serve in Iraq.  Some of the trainers were recently retired police officers who wanted to share their lifetime of experiences with others.  Many of the officers were in the middle of their careers who wanted to serve in this unique way.  One officer who volunteered to train the Iraqi police told me that she had a three year old son at home -- who was being cared for by her husband who was also a police officer.  She said she was serving in Iraq so that her son would never have to undertake a similar mission one day. 

We lost our first police officer in 2004 to enemy sniper fire.  The officer was a retiree from the Denver Police Department who served in Iraq as a trainer.  During the next three years, we lost 15 more police advisors and 10 members of our brave international security staff. While we collectively felt the pain of losing colleagues – there was never a loss of determination.  Police officers are prepared for the inherent dangers of their chosen profession.  We have all lost colleagues during our careers but the intensity of the violence in Iraq during that time was unprecedented for any of us – civilian or military.  led to our heightened awareness.  My trips to the Combat Surgical Hospital in Baghdad to visit my colleagues and our military friends became a weekly event. 

I concluded my mission in Iraq as the lead civilian police advisor with almost 1,000 police advisors in country.  After arriving in Washington D.C. to serve at the State Department, I worked to identify the best way to honor those fallen heroes who gave their lives in service to their country.  I proposed the creation of the INL Memorial Wall to honor our fallen colleagues.  The leadership of the Bureau of International Narcotics Affairs (INL) and the State Department as a whole recognized the need to honor these individuals and has supported this effort.  Today, after five years of effort, the Wall has been installed in its permanent home in the 21st street lobby of the U.S. Department of State.

While we were creating the Wall, which honors those killed in INL programs worldwide not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, I learned of the many other heroes who made sacrifices while serving in Peru, Colombia, Haiti, Bosnia, The Bahamas, Kosovo, Pakistan, and Jordan.  I learned that these heroes came from the United States and 10 other countries.  I learned that these heroes were active DEA agents, retired and active U.S. police officers, corrections officers, domestic and international security personnel, pilots and flight crew.  I learned that these heroes represented the greatness and diversity that is America.  I have truly known heroes and I am honored to be able to highlight their sacrifices– and that of their families – through the permanent placement of this Memorial Wall at the State Department.

About the Author: Walter Redman serves as Senior Police Advisor in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.

Comments

Comments

Patrick W.
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Maryland, USA
June 13, 2014
why is it that our military is still able too use age discrimination as a reason for not hiring people, even if they can do the job. How would it be if you could not be secretary because of your age. Or our presidents couldn't be our presidents because of their age. How would you like a world like that secretary Kerry you would never be a secretary because people thought you were to old. I think this country has a big a real problem when it comes to our ages. We're all living longer and in better health than anytime in history . But we're still told we can't be something because of our age. What kind of country is this ,when our own government still uses your age against you. Is this the kind of country you would like to live in were people can't tell you their age, and not feel bad . I think it's horrible when you can't live up to your potential, just because your older than other people. What is wrong with this country ! We shouldn't allow small minded people to tell us what we can and can't be just because were older. America should be where you can be all you can be. Right ! I guess that's just for younger people, in a country that say one thing and does something else in there government.
Екатерина .
|
United States
June 13, 2014
Good article. Whell writenn and with a true life stories.Full of proud and unforgotable moments. Katty Zhardzetakaya (Consultant espri. Of the Adm. of President)
Patrick W.
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Maryland, USA
June 14, 2014
Kerry is right, we need to support the countries in the middle east. I'm sure there are lot of people who would like too help. If only they would ask the right people here. Most people don't want to leave them without support, and let them fall back under control by terrorist leaders again. This would make everything we did there mean nothing, and a waste of peoples lives that fought there .

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