They are fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, and sisters and brothers. They served in remote corners of the forests and grasslands, helped lost recreationists find their way and arrested people who were violating the law.
They were our friends and colleagues who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Seven U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations officers are listed among the fallen by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to remembering officers killed in the line of duty. In the U.S., on average, one law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty every 57 hours. The organization notes that since the first known line-of-duty death in 1791, more than 19,000 U.S. law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty.
“We remember them every day, but we pay specific homage to them and other fallen officers at this time every year,” said David Ferrell, director of the U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations. “We also remember the families and friends of the fallen so that their loss is also recognized. It is with great humility and pride that we honor those Forest Service officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice while caring for the land and serving people. They will never be forgotten.”
Forest Service officers and agents are charged with protecting the public and employees and the natural resources found on the 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands from Alaska to Puerto Rico. Law enforcement is essential to the management, use and protection of those lands. Officers and agents are responsible for investigating a wide range of crimes and offenses such as illegal timber harvesting, traffic violations, assaults and threats, marijuana cultivation, wildland fires, destruction and theft of archeological and sacred sites and theft or damage to natural resources and other Forest Service property.
The officers who lost their lives in the line of duty as Forest Service peace officers are:
Christopher Upton: Upton served with the agency for four years and previously had worked with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and as a game warden for the Department of Defense at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. He is survived by a wife and a daughter.
Kristine Marie Fairbanks: Fairbanks served with the Forest Service for 22 years and is survived by a husband and daughter.
Michael Lee Staples: Staples was a U.S. Air Force veteran and had served with the Forest Service for 8 years. He is survived by his wife and two sons.
Stephen Allen Bowman: Bowman had served in law enforcement for 13 years. He is survived by his wife and two children.
Brent K. Jacobson: Jacobson was a valued member of the Forest Service, he served for 13 years.
Harmon O. Schwoob: Schwoob was a treasured member of the Forest Service. He is survived by his wife.
Rudolf E. Mellenthin: Mellenthin served the Forest Service for nine years and is survived by his wife and children.