Honoring the proud tradition of service shown by all Michigan conservation officers, the Department of Natural Resources will on Tuesday, May 15, dedicate a memorial to celebrate the lives and work of 12 conservation officers who (since 1887) have died in the line of duty.

The memorial service, offered in conjunction with National Police Week (recognizing the contributions of all U.S. law enforcement officers) will start promptly at 11 a.m. at the Ralph A. MacMullan Conference, 104 Conservation Drive, in Roscommon. The center is on the north shore of Higgins Lake, 1.5 miles east of US-27 and 5 miles west of I-75.

The 12 officers who will be memorialized include:

  • Michigan Deputy Warden Frank S. Wilson (1854-1908), Elk Rapids
  • Deputy Game Warden Julius A. Salmonson (1878-1908), Muskegon County
  • Marquette County Game Warden Arvid Erickson (1896-1926), Marquette
  • Michigan Conservation Officer Emil Waldemar Skoglund (1890-1926), Marquette
  • Michigan Conservation Officer Theron A. Craw (1900-1928), Grand Traverse County
  • Michigan Conservation Officer Andrew Schmeltz (1890-1936), Ishpeming
  • Michigan Conservation Officer Carlyle B. Smith (1895-1943), Bridgeville
  • Michigan Conservation Officer Maurice C. Luck (1908-1938), St. Johns
  • Michigan Conservation Officer Thomas J. Mellon (1901-1947), Schoolcraft County
  • Michigan Conservation Officer Gerald Welling (1918-1972), Hermansville
  • Michigan Conservation Officer Vernon Scott Averill (1946-1986), Sparta
  • Michigan Conservation Officer Edward Carl Starback (1900-1957), Breedsville

DNR Law Enforcement Division (LED) Chief Gary Hagler said the May 15 service will include the playing of bagpipes; a 21-gun salute; speeches to honor the fallen; the unveiling of the LED plaque with the names of two recently approved officers (Salmonson and Craw); and the dedication of the future site of the DNR’s Fallen Conservation Officer Memorial (the design of the physical memorial is yet to be unveiled).

This year – as the DNR celebrates the 125th anniversary of conservation law enforcement in Michigan – Chief Hagler said it is especially fitting to draw attention to the hard-working men and women who have served and those who continue to serve the state of Michigan by protecting its natural resources and the safety of the residents and visitors who want to enjoy those resources.

“In our 125 years, we have lost 12 game wardens and conservation officers in the line of duty,” said Hagler. “The majority of these died at the hands of violent offenders. As we pay tribute to our past, it’s important that we always remember their service and sacrifice.”

Those interested in more information or who would like to contribute to a fund for the construction of the memorial should visit the Michigan Conservation Officer Association website at www.mcoa-online.net.

For more information on National Police Week, visit www.nationalcops.org/npw2012.htm.

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