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Ceremony honors sacrifices of area troopers

Retired members of the Pennsylvania State Police fill in the ranks with active-duty state police officers during the annual memorial program held Tuesday morning in Wyoming.

Clark Van Orden/The Times Leader

Cpl. Ronald J. Zukosky, retired, president N.E. Retiree Association, and his son, Tpr. Ronald S. Zukosky, lay the wreath during the annual memorial program to honor those troopers who were killed in the line of duty.

Clark Van Orden/The Times Leader

WYOMING – Retired state police Sgt. Chester Zaremba asked for a wish during his keynote speech during the annual State Police Memorial Service held Tuesday at the Wyoming barracks.

Talking about his recent visit to the State Police Academy in Hershey, Zaremba found himself pondering the State Police Memorial Wall.

“I never gave it a really good look before,” Zaremba said. “There are 93 names on that wall. … May the last name on that wall be forever the last name on that wall.”

Troopers killed in the line of duty were honored at the service, which included the reading by state police Lt. Richard Krawetz of the names of 10 troopers at Wyoming who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“May we never forget their bravery and dedication and forever keep them in our hearts,” Troop P Commander Capt. James E. Degnan said. “These members remind us, ‘Once you are a trooper, you are always a trooper.’ ”

Degnan said the first two troopers -- privates John F. Henry and Francis A. Zehringer – were killed Sept. 2, 1906, during a gun battle in Jefferson County, 17 months after the Pennsylvania State Police was commissioned 106 years ago.

“Today, we have lost 93 members who have laid down their lives rather than swerve from the path of duty,” Degnan said.

Retired state police Cpl. Ronald J. Zukosky and his son, Trooper Ronald S. Zukosky, placed a wreath at the memorial stone in front of the Wyoming barracks. Immediately after the wreath was placed, Luzerne County Detective Chris Lynch played “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes.

Zaremba said he either knew or graduated from the academy with four troopers – Joseph Welsch, who was killed Sept. 13, 1977; Al Izzo, Jan. 13, 1979; Paul Almer, April 12, 1989; and Sgt. Arthur Hershey, Jan. 3, 1999 – who appear on the Memorial Wall in Hershey.

“I know that each one of them wish their name is the last one on that wall,” Zaremba said. “This year we should be thankful that since we met here last May, we have not had to add another name to that wall.”

The last trooper killed in action was Paul Richey, who lost his life on Jan. 13, 2010, as a result of a gunshot wound suffered while investigating a domestic disturbance in Venango County. Trooper Joshua Miller, of Pittston Township, was killed in a shooting while attempting to save a kidnapped boy in Monroe County on June 7, 2009.

After the service, active and retired troopers were invited to a lunch held at the barracks.

Troop P troopers who have died

According to The Times Leader archives, 10 troopers based at Troop P, Wyoming, have died in the line of duty.

• Pvt. John Garcia, 30, was shot and killed when arresting a person in Jenkins Township on Feb. 21, 1909.

• Pvt. William J. Omlor, 29, was killed when he lost control of his motorcycle near Pottsville on Oct. 24, 1923.

• Sgt. Edwin F. Haas, 35, died of an accidental shooting on Oct. 17, 1924.

• Patrolman William G. Hamond, 23, was killed when he lost control of his motorcycle while traveling to the Luzerne County Courthouse on July 13, 1930.

• Patrolman Arthur A. Koppenhaver died on July 13, 1930, from injuries from a motorcycle accident on Main Street, Nanticoke, on April 21, 1930.

• First Sgt. James A. Seerey, 41, died from a fractured skull suffered in an accident involving a horse on Sept. 10, 1934.

• Pvt. Floyd W. Maderia, 34, was involved in a vehicle accident near Minooka on Dec. 10, 1934, and died the next day from injuries.

• Private John J. Broski, 40, was shot during a robbery at a tavern on East End Boulevard, Wilkes-Barre, on Aug. 14, 1937.

• Pvt. George J. Yashur Jr., 25, died when struck by a vehicle while directing traffic on Market Street, Kingston, during a flood on April 1, 1940.

• Trooper Thomas M. Kobeski, 39, died of a heart attack after a court hearing in Pittston on May 3, 2002.

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