(BEDFORD) - The Indiana State Police along with the Indiana Troopers Youth Services Association honored fallen Trooper Robert C. Gillespie Monday with a graveside memorial near Bedford.
Gillespie gave his life in the line of duty on June 8th, 1962. Gillespie's family, friends and Mitchell Mayor Mitchell Mayor Gary Pruett were at the ceremony along with both active and retired troopers.
After a word of prayer was offered, the following words were said by Sgt. Curt Durnil to start the service; "We are here today to honor a fallen hero. Trooper Robert Gillespie died in the line of duty almost 50 years ago to keep the citizens of the State of Indiana safe. The Indiana Troopers Youth Services Association's vision of placing a memorial flag at every fallen trooper's gravesite is being realized today. It is with great pride and honor that I place this flag at the right of Trooper Robert Gillespie".
The service followed with words from Retired ISP Captain Jim Durnil, "Trooper Gillespie's life was always centered on 'answering the call'.
Trooper Gillespie most certainly spent his life answering the numerous calls for service to his fellow man. After graduating from Bedford High School in 1946, Gillespie enlisted in the United States Navy and served in Cuba from 1946 - 1949. After attending Indiana University in the spring of 1950, Gillespie married his sweetheart, Ms. Naomi Pierce in May of that same year. Gillespie applied for the Indiana State Police in the summer of 1950 and was sworn in on his 23rd birthday, September 1st, 1950.
Trooper Gillespie's line of duty biography reads as follows;
Dedicated To Service Since 1933
Trooper Robert C. Gillespie, Seymour Post. Appointed September 1st, 1950. Died June 8th, 1962.
"While enroute to the town of Mitchell in response to a request for assistance, Trooper Gillespie, who was traveling at a high rate of speed with emergency lights on, was forced to leave the road when a pick-up truck slowed in front of him. Leaving the highway to avoid the truck, Trooper Gillespie swerved back on the highway to avoid another car in his path. His vehicle was then struck by another car. Trooper Gillespie died as a result of his injuries."
Trooper Gillespie died "answering the call".
Family, friends and ISP retirees were then given the opportunity to share a story or memory about Gillespie. Family stated that he was a wonderful husband and father. ISP Retiree Larry Ikerd offered that he (Gillespie) was a great police officer. Ikerd said "He was the finest officer and friend that anyone could ever want to have". Ikerd was at Gillespie's side when he died.
Gillespie's son, Scott, shared information that in 1959 Trooper Gillespie was shot twice near the Post Office in Avoca, by a man who had stolen a car. After being hit, Trooper Gillespie got back into his patrol car and pursued the suspect until he could corner him and wait for backup. Again, Trooper Gillespie answered the call.
Sgt Curt Durnil then offered a closing prayer.
The Indiana Troopers Youth Services Association will continue to place memorial flags at fallen trooper's gravesites on an annual basis. May is Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Month.
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