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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, September 7, 2018

HCSO hosts dedication for fallen deputy’s new grave marker




Amid blue skies and sweltering heat, members of the public and local community leaders on Aug. 30 joined Sheriff Jim Hammond and other members of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office at Chattanooga Memorial Park in White Oak to dedicate a new grave marker for fallen deputy Charles Garfield.

Garfield died in the line of duty on June 2, 1961 after being struck by a drunk driver while riding his motorcycle during a routine patrol in Hixson. He died later that day at a local hospital.

In 2016, Dr. Hal McAlister of Decatur, Georgia, was visiting the graves of his wife’s family at White Oak Cemetery when he noticed a grave marker with a law enforcement badge for Garfield. The grave marker stood out to McAlister not only because of the badge but also because the deputy had died at the age of 24.

When McAlister returned to the cemetery in 2017, he noticed that Garfield’s grave marker had been damaged and the badge was missing. Concerned and wondering what could be done, he researched Garfield on the Officer Down Memorial Page (www.odmp.org) and found that he was a member of the HCSO.

McAlister then utilized Facebook to solicit anyone with any information regarding the young officer or his family to contact him. Surprisingly, the post was seen by a woman who went to school with McAlister’s wife – and who happened to be friends with Sheriff Hammond’s wife.

Sheriff Hammond assigned Neighborhood Relations Coordinator Shannon Wilson with the task of learning what could be done to rectify the damaged grave marker.

Wilson contacted the cemetery staff, who made Chattanooga Memorial Park President Gene Pike aware of the situation. Upon learning of the incident, Pike volunteered to purchase a new grave marker for Garfield.

The Aug. 30 ceremony was planned to pay tribute to Garfield’s service and dedicate his new grave marker. That marker was unveiled during the ceremony.

During the ceremony, Sheriff Hammond said, “We’re here to pay our respects and dedicate a new grave marker for a young deputy who gave his life in the service of his community.

“Deputy Charles Garfield’s life was cut short less than a year after being hired by the HCSO, so we were unable to see what great things he could have accomplished had he lived. We therefore wish to remember his sacrifice and ensure he’s not forgotten.”

Dr. McAlister also spoke at the ceremony.

Source: HCSO