A monument to Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop G officers killed in the line of duty was unveiled Tuesday morning at Troop G headquarters in Willow Springs.
Speakers were former West Plains Mayor Jack Pahlmann, who was an integral part of fundraising as project coordinator and MASTERS Troop G director emeritus; Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe; and patrol Superintendent Eric Olson. Retired patrol Maj. Mike Pace and retired Capt. Mark Inman also helped in the fundraising effort.
Pahlmann presented state flags that had flown over the state capitol to family members of Tpr. Kelly L. Poynter, who died Jan. 18, 2002, as the result of injuries suffered when he was struck by an intoxicated driver on U.S. 63, two miles south of Houston in Texas County, while investigating a vehicle crash. A flag was also presented to the family of Trooper Donald K. “Kevin” Floyd, who died Sept. 22, 2005, on U.S. 60 near Highway MM in Texas County, after he was struck by a motorist during a traffic stop. On March 20, 2005, Sgt. Dwayne Graham Jr., was found by a passing motorist lying on the ground at his home near his patrol car, dead from gunshot wounds, just outside Van Buren in Carter County. Investigation into the incident led to the arrest and conviction of a man Graham had been investigating as a suspect in a fatal car accident in which the driver left the scene. The shooter was found guilty of the murder of Graham and sentenced to death in 2009. Graham’s family members were unable to attend.
The memorial, created by Wommack Monument of Springfield at a cost of $16,000, plus an additional $4,000 for lighting and landscaping, features the names and photos of Troop G officers Poynter, Graham and Floyd. In his remarks, Kehoe expressed his gratitude for the sacrifice the men made in the interest of public safety, knowing the risks involved, and the courage and sacrifice of family members of such law enforcement officers supporting their careers, knowing their loved ones are often in danger. He paraphrased Gen. George Patton, who said, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”
“To friends and family, this monument won’t bring them back to you, and may stir up some grief you haven’t felt in some time,” Kehoe said. “Their legacy will remain an inspiration to us all.”