ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – As law enforcement agencies nationwide pause on Peace Officers Memorial Day -- honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice -- the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office paused to remember its own deputies who died in the line of duty.
Nine St. Johns County deputies and one K-9 officer have died since 1911. The department's flag stood at half-staff and the Sheriff's Office honor guard stood at attention as the name of each deputy was read.
In addition to the St. Johns County deputies honored, three Florida Highway Patrol troopers and a St. Augustine Beach marshal were also honored at Wednesday's memorial.
The parents of Deputy Joshua Blyler (pictured, below), who was only 20 years old when he killed in a car accident while responding to a call in 2004, attended, as they have nearly every year since his death. They said the continuing support of his fellow deputies means everything to them.
“As a mother, you don’t forget your children. But these guys and women put their lives on their line for their communities every day. How can you not honor that?" Jean Blyler said. "Are we willing to run into that building and search for the bad person? I’m not.”
Johnny Blyler said her son planned to become a youth pastor but decided to go into law enforcement after another pastor they knew was killed. The father said that decision was hard on his wife, but deep down, they knew this was his life’s mission.
"Josh was a leader," Johnny Blyler said.
Deputy Joshua Blyler was killed in a car accident while responding to a call in May 2004. He was 20 years old. Blyler’s parents also give back in their son’s memory. They regularly work and counsel the family members of other fallen heroes.
Joe Solano Jr. also attended the service. His father, Deputy Joe Salano (pictured, right) was riding a Sheriff's Office motorcycle when a vehicle pulled in front of him on Feb. 12, 1983. Solano said his father loved being a deputy and was passionate about law enforcement.
“He was totally committed to it,” Solano said.
The fallen honored Wednesday:
Deputy Abe Schneider - EOW March 5, 1911
Deputy Guy White – EOW March 5, 1911
Deputy P.A. Turlington - EOW Nov. 4, 1927
Deputy Lamar Knight – EOW May 7, 1933
Deputy Frank Quigley - EOW May 7, 1933
Deputy Harold Hart - EOW April 13, 1968
Deputy Beach Marshal Ronald Parker (St. Augustine Beach PD) - EOW Jan. 12, 1975
Trooper Merle J. Cook (FHP) – EOW July 13, 1981
Trooper Cleo L. Tomlinson Jr. (FHP) - EOW July 13, 1981
Trooper Robert L. Pruitt - (FHP) EOW July 13, 1981
Deputy Joseph Solano EOW - Feb. 12, 1983
Deputy Joshua Blyler EOW- May 2, 2004
Deputy James L. Anderson EOW - Jan. 14, 2010
K-9 “Baron” - EOW Oct. 7, 2014