When peace officers take the oath of honor pledging to protect the community, they understand that they may one day make the ultimate sacrifice.
For the 16 men and women in the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office honor guard, death frequently knocks, and they ensure that every fallen officer receives a ceremonial burial to honor his or her memory.
Now, the guard received an honor of its own.
The Honor Network presented the rifle team of the honor guard with black cotton gloves with gold embroidery, as opposed to the typical white cotton gloves worn by honor guards around the country. Only three law enforcement agencies in the country have received this honor from The Honor Network since it began awarding the gloves in February of 2015. The nonprofit travels to more than 100 officer funerals, including those for line of duty deaths, around the country every year.
“We heard your firing squad and their attention to detail and their perfection on that sequence on their firing was amazing. Absolutely amazing. So much so that we had to take a drone and zoom in on the barrels to make sure there was smoke coming out of the barrels,” said President and founder of The Honor Network Chris Heisler.
The black gloves symbolize the excellence, commitment and attention to detail of the seven-member firing squad as it performed a three-volley salute in perfect synchronization.
“There’s been honors down the line and all but this is probably one of the best. When you have your men and women under your command who do an outstanding job day in and day out … to receive an honor where we’re just the third one out of the country to receive the award, that just shows the dedication and the pride that they take in the extra responsibility that they volunteer to do with this honor guard,” said Montgomery County Sheriff Tommy Gage.
Heisler selected the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office honor guard firing squad after watching its three-volley salute to Sgt. Stacey Baumgartner of the Patton Village Police Department, who passed away in June after a high-speed pursuit ended in a fatal car accident.
“We wanted to do something distinctive and different to honor the firing squads across the country,” Heisler said about honoring firing squads with the black gloves.
The funeral of the Patton Village officer was one of a dozen funerals the sheriff’s office honor guard has conducted this year alone, and the rest were with law enforcement agencies across Texas and the Gulf Coast.
Texas has consistently ranked as one of the deadliest states for active duty officers. Currently, Texas ranks as the No. 1 state in line of duty deaths for 2016 with 14 deaths, according to the nonprofit Officer Down Memorial Page.
Senior Sgt. Edd West has fired his rifle to honor fallen police officers for the last 19 years and has commanded the rifle squad for the last two years. He was ecstatic about the recognition and the black gloves his squad received.
“We work hard. Everyone on the team takes it seriously. It’s an honor for us and for the families,” West said
Press Release: Courier: Courier