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Published: Thursday, 5/14/2009

Wood County salutes fallen officers

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - Ninety years to the day after Bowling Green Patrolman Austin Harman was accidentally shot and killed while on duty, he was recognized yesterday for his sacrifice.

In the crowd gathered outside the Wood County Courthouse for the annual police memorial service, Jason Langlois looked on proudly as Mr. Harman's name was added to the roll of 11 Wood County law enforcement officers who have died on the job since 1896.

It was Mr. Langlois, a Lucas County sheriff's deputy, who in December stumbled upon a newspaper account of Mr. Harman's death in May, 1919, while doing research for an unrelated project. Mr. Harman was the seventh area lawman the deputy had come across who was killed on the job but never recognized.

"This is my seventh, but it's the first time I got to go to a ceremony for one," Deputy Langlois said after the service. "Bowling Green really ran with it. When I've given the information to other departments, they thank me and don't really take it any farther."

Walter Metcalfe of the Lucas County Sheriff's Office plays the bagpipes at the memorial service. Walter Metcalfe of the Lucas County Sheriff's Office plays the bagpipes at the memorial service.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Bowling Green Police Lt. Tony Hetrick said Patrolman Austin's name was added not only to the Wood County Police Memorial but to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington.

Retired Bowling Green Police Sgt. Claude Clouse, 81, accepted proclamations from Wood County commissioners and Bowling Green Mayor John Quinn on behalf of Mr. Harman and the city's other fallen officer, Patrolman Ralph Castner, who died in a shootout with two bandits on a multistate crime rampage in 1931.

Mr. Clouse said afterward that he never heard a word about Mr. Harman's death while he was on the police force from 1957 to 1991. He said he worked with the police chief who would have been with the department in 1919, but that he "never said anything to me about it."

Lieutenant Hetrick said the department was glad "to correct an historical oversight," although they were unable to locate any of Mr. Harman's descendants.

As the roll of fallen Wood County lawmen is read in Bowling Green, a ceremonial bell tolls for each name on the roster. As the roll of fallen Wood County lawmen is read in Bowling Green, a ceremonial bell tolls for each name on the roster.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Patrolman Harman, he said, was working with another officer to remove boxes that had been set up around telephone poles in downtown Bowling Green to help decorate for a parade for returning World War I soldiers when the other officer's revolver fell from its holster and discharged, piercing Mr. Harman's femoral artery.

"He was taken to a local restaurant where a doctor was called but the doctor could not stop the flow of blood, and Patrolman Harman bled to death within 30 minutes," Lieutenant Hetrick said. "Patrolman Harman was 65 and had served with the Bowling Green police division for 21 years at the time of his death."

After the police memorial, a graveside service was held at Union Hill Cemetery north of here where Mr. Harman was buried.

At 11 a.m. today, Ottawa County will recognize its law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty at a police memorial service at the Harris Elmore Union Cemetery at Elmore East and Schultz Portage roads in Elmore.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-724-6129.



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