LEWISTOWN – Local law enforcement gathered Thursday for the 2014 Mifflin County Law Enforcement Memorial Service to honor two local officers who have died in the line of duty.
The service is on state Route 103 in Lewistown, and is held in conjunction with National Peace Officers Memorial Day, which is held annually on May 15. National Peace Officers Memorial Day was started by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. Lewistown Police Chief William Herkert opened the ceremony describing the event.
“Today we are here to honor all local, state and federal law enforcement officers who serve and protect with such dedication and courage,” he said. “Specifically we are here to honor two local officers who have fallen while serving our local community.”
One of the officers being honored was Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. John Valent. A memorial biography was read to those in attendance by retired state police trooper Douglas Cramer.
“On Dec. 9, 1971, Cpl. John Valent was on patrol,” Cramer read. “While placing three young men into custody and taking them to the substation, one of them shot Cpl. Valent twice in the back of his head.”
At the time of his death Cpl. Valent was a 25-year veteran of the state police force. Valent was the 159th law enforcement officer to be enshrined into the Police Hall of Fame and was awarded the Medal of Honor from the American Federation
The other officer honored was Patrolman Robert McCormick of the former Lewistown Borough Police Department. His memorial biography was read by retired Mifflin County Regional Police Department officer Stephen Knudson.
“On January 9, 1974, Patrolman McCormick answered a burglary in process call,” Knudson read. “While investigating the call, he suffered a heart attack and subsequently died.”
McCormick, at the time, had dedicated 25 years of service to the Lewistown Borough Police Department, after serving in the Army during World War II and was also employed by the White Hill Correctional Institution.
After both memorials were read, Herkert said a collage with photos of both officers has been created and will hang in the Lewistown Police Department station. Herkert said while doing research on each of the incidents, he learned an interesting fact about the responding officers who came to help Valent in his time of need.
“It was discovered that after Valent was shot, McCormick was one of the officers who responded,” Herkert said. “This shows the dedication that each department has with each other and for the local community.”
In honor of National Peace Officer’s Memorial Day, flags throughout Mifflin County were flown at half-staff Thursday, as part of a proclamation of President John F. Kennedy.