SUSQUEHANNA TOWNSHIP -- Deputy Game Commission Officer Charles Beecham is anonymous no more. His name is the ninth to be added to the Pennsylvania Game Commission Fallen Officer's Memorial displayed at the headquarters near Harrisburg.
Though these officers admit, they didn't know Deputy Beecham's name until recently. An email from a national organization set off an investigation - to find a fallen deputy who had apparently fallen through the cracks.
Deputy Charles Beecham was shot and killed while on duty in Lackawanna county in 1906.
"Back at the turn of the century, game laws were relatively new in Pennsylvania, and I`m sure officer training was nowhere near to the standards that officer training is today. But, still, even given those facts there were people in that time willing to strap on a gun and a badge and try to protect our wildlife resources," said Randy Shoup, Director of the Bureau of Wildlife Resources for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Deputy Beecham was shot in a place called Priceburg in Lackawanna County. We know it as the part of Dickson City that borders Olyphant and Blakely. There was a mill and few farms there then. Deputy Beecham and a few other officers were confronting two men who were hunting illegally on a Sunday. The shooter was charged with Beecham's murder, but Game Commission records stopped after that.
Researchers couldn't track down any living family members. So, brothers in arms stepped in.
Bill Bower, a retired Game Commission officer, made the trip to the special memorial ceremony from Troy.
"This is just right up my alley, I couldn`t miss this, I had to come," Bower said.
Bower is a collector of Game Commission history. He and other retirees are working on developing a museum. Deputy Beecham's story gives him all the more reason to keep collecting the commission's history.
"It speaks of esprit de corps, you know? It`s like in the marine corps, once a marine always a marine, once a game warden, always a game warden," he added.
The ceremony near Harrisburg is ahead of one in Washington DC this weekend. Deputy Beecham will be the first Deputy Game Commission Officer to be added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial.
"It`s like the thin green line, you know? He was the beginning and here we are today. We`re still the thin green line with very few officers trying to protect our wildlife," Shoup added.
On Saturday, Deputy Beecham will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C.