A solemn gathering of people, many wearing immaculately presented law enforcement uniforms or shades of blue, gathered in front of the memorial dedicated to local fallen law enforcement officers Thursday morning.
They gathered to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the line-of-duty death of Lewis County Deputy Stephen Michael “Mike” Gallagher Jr.
Gallagher died Aug. 18, 2009, after his patrol vehicle struck an elk on U.S. Highway 12 near Packwood. He was on his way to assist another deputy with a domestic violence call. He was 34 years old.
“This is a solemn reminder of what this job entails, what this career, what this life that we chose does to us, but I will tell you that there is no more honorable profession than the profession that we wear — the badge,” said Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza to a crowd of area law enforcement, justice system officials and citizens, including Gallagher’s wife and two children.
Neil Hoium with the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office called for a moment of silence and gave an invocation.
“Let’s just decompress, let’s take a moment of silence and remember. Remember those friends that aren’t here, and remember why you do what you do,” he said.
Snaza said he remembers Gallagher as a loving person with a nearly permanent smile. He said he’ll always think of the words “it’s all good,” when he thinks of Gallagher — his response anytime someone asked how he was doing.
Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said that “duty, honor and respect” were more than just a law enforcement mantra for Gallagher. He said he believes that Gallagher would have still responded to the scene, even with the knowledge that it would be his last call for service.
The brief memorial gathering was emotional and followed by a lunch where a picture of Gallagher sat prominently in the room with his boots beneath the frame. A picture slideshow ran on a projector.
Prior to his time in law enforcement, Gallagher served eight years in the U.S. Army. He was hired as a corrections officer in 2003, and worked in the Lewis County Jail until he was hired on as a deputy in September 2007.