MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. -- Every year, police officers around the country ride 300 miles to the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial to honor their fallen brothers and sisters. With the event open to any law enforcement agency, one police officer took the initiative to represent Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., this year.
Police Sgt. Valerie Torres, a desk sergeant with the MCAS Miramar Provost Marshal’s Office and a Loveland, Colo., native, trained and volunteered her time to ride in the 2013 Police Unity Tour, May 10-12.
“I found out about it from my [Los Angeles] police friends and thought: ‘why not represent [MCAS] Miramar?’” said Torres.
The annual tour raises awareness for the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial Fund and honors fallen officers, Torres explained. The motto of the memorial event emphasizes the riders’ focus: “We ride for those who died.”
“I didn’t have someone in mind and I haven’t lost anyone close to me… So I did some research myself and found Jared Francom,” said Torres. “I decided I’m going to ride for him.”
Francom served with the Ogden Police Department and was assigned to the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force for seven years. He was killed in the line of duty Jan. 5, 2012, leaving behind a wife and a daughter.
With more than 1,700 police officers riding for the fallen, the tour brought out the bond of law enforcement members.
“It was a remarkable experience to see all the officers there and knowing we were all there for our [brothers and sisters],” said Torres.
For Torres, showing support for the tour and cause on behalf of MCAS Miramar was one of the most rewarding parts of the ride.
“There was a sea of us and all wearing the same uniform and the only thing that sets me apart is the MCAS Miramar Patch that represented where I was from,” said Torres. “It was amazing; we were all from different places but here for the same reason.”
When she presented the idea to her superiors, they knew that Torres would embody all the great officers aboard the air station.
“She is a top notch officer and sheds a positive light on the law enforcement here on [MCAS] Miramar,” said Capt. Thomas Beck, operations officer with PMO aboard MCAS Miramar and an Edgewood, Ky., native.
When all the officers met at the memorial, they shared a moment for fallen personnel and played the Marine Corps Hymn in honor of fallen Marines.
“It gave me chills and I just started [crying],” said Torres.
When she reached the end of the tour, Torres met with members of Francom’s team and his wife.
“The whole experience was just amazing,” said Torres.
Torres plans to represent MCAS Miramar law enforcement next year in the 2014 Police Unity Tour.