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Tampa police to honor two fallen officers

The names of Joseph S. Walker and Juan Nales will appear on markers at the foot of the Tampa Police Memorial.

Times file

The names of Joseph S. Walker and Juan Nales will appear on markers at the foot of the Tampa Police Memorial.

TAMPA — Town Marshall Joseph S. Walker was blasted by a shotgun-wielding man angry about his recent divorce.

Police Officer Juan Nales was disarmed by the suspect he was taking to jail and shot with his own revolver.

Both lawmen were killed in the line of duty more than 85 years ago, each wearing the badge of separate towns that no longer exist. But their names haven't been included on memorial markers, as is customary. Their sacrifice had long faded into the past, sustained only by historians and their relatives' memories.

"They just slipped through the cracks," said Robert Pennington, president of the Tampa Police Memorial Committee.

That's about to change.

In May, Walker's and Nales' names will be etched on separate granite markers at the Tampa Police Memorial downtown, then at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., during a special ceremony, along with nearly 400 others.

The national memorial contains the names of 18,274 law enforcement workers killed in the line of duty since 1792. This year the names of 255 officers killed from 1853 to 2007 are being added to the wall.

Also being added are the names of 133 officers killed in 2008, the lowest annual total since 1960, according Kevin Morison, a spokesman for the national monument.

Pennington became aware of Walker and Nales several years ago, after reading information about them in Forgotten Heros: Police Officers Killed in Early Florida, 1841-1925 by William Wilbanks, the author of a series of historical books about slain officers.

In the time since, research has been done and details double-checked.

"Once we got going, we didn't want them to be forgotten," Pennington said.

Walker, 54, was a 16-year law enforcement veteran in Port Tampa City when he was killed Sept. 25, 1915, according to Wilbanks. The once-independent municipality at the southern tip of the Interbay peninsula was annexed by Tampa in 1961.

Nales, a city of West Tampa officer, was 25 when he died July 18, 1920, Wilbanks says. Tampa annexed the community five years later.

Their names are not being added to the roster of 26 Tampa officers on the memorial in front of the department's downtown museum because they never officially worked for the city's department. Instead, they will be honored with markers at the foot of the memorial.

Grandchildren, including Chief Assistant State Attorney Dennis Nales of Sarasota County, are expected to attend the ceremony in Tampa.

Tampa's first officer to die in the line of duty was John McCormack in 1895. The most recent was Detective Juan Serrano on Feb. 25, 2006.

With the addition of Walker and Nales, Pennington said he believes that all have now been accounted for.

Two ceremonies set

Town Marshall Joseph S. Walker and police Officer Juan Nales will be honored during two special ceremonies: at 10 a.m. May 6 at the Tampa Police Memorial, 411 N Franklin St., downtown; and May 13, during an evening candlelight vigil, at the National Police Officers Memorial, 400 Seventh St. NW, Washington, D.C.

• • •

Tampa police have a picture of Nales, and are trying to find one of Walker, who died in 1915, for their memorial. They also want a copy of the city seal of Port Tampa City. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Roberto Batista at (813) 274-5843.

Tampa police to honor two fallen officers 03/26/09 [Last modified: Thursday, May 28, 2009 10:31am]
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