Our fallen heroes Gone, but never forgotten

Members of the 341st Security Forces Group participate in a 5K memorial road march during National Police Week May 14, 2019, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Members of the 341st Security Forces Group participate in a 5K memorial road march during National Police Week May 14, 2019, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. The 341st SFG conducted the road march in memory of fallen defenders. 1st Lt. Joseph D. Helton Jr. made the ultimate sacrifice in 2009, when his vehicle was attacked by a roadside bomb near Baghdad. (U.S. Air Force photo by Devin Doskey)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- On July 14, 2011, I, along with officers from across the United States and Canada, filled the Bismarck, North Dakota Civic Center. This band of law enforcement brothers and sisters came together to honor the life of Sergeant Steve Kenner. 

Steve was a law enforcement brother of mine. We both served with the Fraternal Order of Police in North Dakota. I served as our local lodge’s state trustee and Steve was the National Trustee for North Dakota. He was a “cop’s cop” who dedicated his life to serve others. He was an awesome guy, a “gentle giant”, and a 56-year-old guy who would give you the shirt off of his back. 

On July 8th, 2011, Steve responded to a call in the city where a man was threatening a woman with a knife. A domestic disturbance, something all police officers are familiar with. We all know how volatile these calls can be, even on military installations. When Steve and another officer arrived on scene, they located the man in a van and began to challenge him to come out of the vehicle. Instead of complying, the man opened fire, fatally striking Steve. 

The next day, I spoke with my friend John, a former security forces flight chief, who was serving in the department with Steve. I will never forget the words, “I cannot believe he is gone!” Steve was John’s good friend and he had been up all night at the hospital comforting the Kenner family. 

Now, we were in the civic center remembering Steve. The dispatcher could be heard over the speakers and through radios worn by Bismarck Police officers. She did status checks with the patrols on the street asking their status. Each officer responded with, “10-8” meaning all secure.  She asked for the status of their sergeant, badge number 40. “Headquarters, 40, status?” Then again, she asked as her voice began to break -- no response. One final time she asked and you could hear the emotion in her voice. Again -- no response. Then the shift commander came on and stated, “Headquarters, 40 is 10-42, July 8th, 2011, [10:47 p.m.]” 10-42 is the code for ending a tour of duty.  

Steve was a 32-year veteran of the Bismarck Police Department and only about a year from his retirement, where he planned to enjoy his retirement life with his wife and watch his three children grow up. Instead, he was the first police officer to ever be killed in the line of duty in Bismarck, N.D. 

The Kenner family was honored the following May, as Sergeant Kenner was memorialized on the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. He is one of 20,267 names of local, state, federal and military police officers killed in the line of duty. 

This year on May 15th, National Peace Officer’s Memorial Day, 307 police officers will be honored and added to this wall. These officers dedicated their lives to service, their community, and country. They may be gone, but will never be forgotten.

During National Police Week, the men and women of the 341st Security Forces Group will honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice during their service. We will remember our fellow beret wearers killed performing Security Forces duties:


Tech. Sgt. Robert Butler (1998, Edwards AFB , California),

Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Jacobson (2005, Camp Bucca, Iraq),

Staff Sgt. Brian McElroy (2006, Taji, Iraq),

Tech. Sgt. Jason Norton (2006, Taji, Iraq),

Airman 1st Class Leebernard Chavis (2006, Baghdad, Iraq),

Staff Sgt. John Self (2007, Baghdad, Iraq),

Airman 1st Class Jason Nathan (2007, Camp Speicher, Iraq),

Staff Sgt. Travis Griffin (2008, Baghdad, Iraq),

First Lt. Joseph Helton (2009, Baghdad, Iraq),

Senior Airman Nicholas Alden (2011, Frankfurt International Airport, Germany),

Staff Sgt. Todd Lobraico (2013, Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan),

Airman 1st Class Kcey Ruiz (2015, Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan),

Senior Airman Nathan Sartainn (2015, Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan),

Tech. Sgt. Joseph Lemm (2015, Bagram Air Field Afghanistan),

Staff Sgt. Louis Bonacasa (2015, Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan) and the many Air Policemen & Security Policemen who died protecting our air bases during previous wars since 1947.  NEVER FORGET!

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