A national memorial in Washington, D.C., bears the names of thousands of police officers killed in the line of duty. In this 2004 York Daily Record/Sunday News photo, a woman traces the name of an officer. A memorial spokesman said people leave many items for their lost loved ones – police patches, roses, stuffed animals and even beer. Background posts: Deadly York fire: ‘There never was a more horrible one’, Witman murder among York County’s most notorious crimes and 16 York County Good Samaritans honored with Carnegie Medals since 1906.
Curtis Sowers, Henry Schaad and Deputy Edward “Skip” Schroeder Jr. all were York County police officers and died in the line of duty.
Their sacrifice is known by many.
Unfortunately, another local police officer was added to their numbers this week:
Northern Regional’s David Tome was struck by a vehicle as he was re-constructing the scene of an accident.
Sometimes, Willis Cole of Fairview Township, at the northern tip of the York County, is added to that short list of heroes. The New Cumberland officer was shot and killed in 1994 after responding to a Cumberland County robbery.
Windsor Fire Police Lt. Douglas L. Rohrbaugh is one law enforcement official who died in the line of duty and is often forgotten… .
Rohrbaugh, a Laurel Fire Company volunteer, was directing traffic June 26, 1998, on Cape Horn Road at Meadow Hill Drive.
A pickup driver heading north on Cape Horn Road struck Rohrbaugh, knocking him out of his shoes and sending him 98 feet through the air to a nearby lawn. He died a short time later.
A York Daily Record story (7/1/1998) intertwines the funeral of unsung hero Douglas Rohrbaugh with memories of Officer Cole’s heroics:
As Windsor Fire Police Lt. Douglas L. Rohrbaugh is buried today, you’ll forgive Chief Oren Kauffman of the New Cumberland Police Department if he’s lost in the events of almost four years ago.
One of his men, Officer Willis J. Cole, had been shot to death during an armed robbery on Aug. 19, 1994. Cole had apprehended one suspect. But a second robber circled around and killed the officer.
Kauffman had to plan the funeral.
“I had a lot of help from State Police, and there’s just a good bit of coordination,” he said Tuesday.
“Everything from where people are going to park to how people are going to go into the church. It’s not a small undertaking.”
Details of Cole’s death had been put out over a law enforcement teletype, which included information about where to form for the procession. Kauffman included a telephone number for officers from outside agencies to call.
When the calls came in, New Cumberland police gave out directions and information about local accommodations.
In the end, hundreds of officers attended, some coming from neighboring states. Cole’s funeral parade was six miles long. A thousand people showed up.
Police funerals follow a military protocol, Kauffman said. Likewise, there are guidelines for a firefighter’s funeral, like the one scheduled for Rohrbaugh at 11 a.m. today. Daniel Orwig, chief of the Windsor Fire Company, has been helping with the arrangements.
“There are some guidelines around the state which has helped a lot,” he said. “They’ve given us different options how the casket will be carried.”
Some fire companies place the casket at the head of parade, others at the end. Today, three fire trucks will lead Rohrbaugh’s funeral procession. His silver-blue casket, draped in the Flag of the Fallen Firefighters, will ride atop a fourth.
A brigade of at least 50 – and perhaps more by this morning – fire trucks will trail behind. Their lights will be ablaze, their sirens muted, as they roll slowly from the Austin H. Eberly Funeral Home in Dallastown to the Susquehanna Memorial Gardens.
Until then, a four-man honor guard will stand vigil over the casket during visitation and until the arrival at the cemetery. A three-man color guard will carry flags of the United States, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Flag of the Fallen Firefighters- a banner that features a Maltese cross in the center and is bordered by the words, “Service, Dedication, Honor, Valor.” Across the bottom are the words, “Lest We Forget.”
“We’re still working on other details today, trying to get everything to line up in order,” Orwig said Tuesday, adding the entire fire company had been involved in the planning.
“It’s definitely not a one-person job.”
Hundreds of mourners are expected, Orwig said, including delegations of firefighters from Maryland and Harrisburg. Neighboring fire companies had been handling telephone inquires, giving the crew at Windsor a chance to focus on Rohrbaugh’s final good-bye.
At the Austin H. Eberly Funeral Home, Inc., flowers were being arranged Tuesday afternoon in advance of Rohrbaugh’s family spending some private time with him. Funeral directors were too busy, they said, to discuss arrangements.
Kauffman, the New Cumberland police chief, knows the feeling.
“When you have a loss like that, especially when someone is out protecting someone else, it touches every police officer and every police officer’s spouse,” he said. “It hurts to have something like that happen, but the support is tremendous.”
For more on York’s Police Heritage Museum, click here
Also of interest:
About slain Game Commission officer David L. Grove: ‘Last night, we lost a local law-enforcement hero’