(BLOOMINGTON) – The Bloomington State Police Post District 33 paid tribute to the 43 troopers who gave their lives to protect and serve those in the State of Indiana on Monday.
Four residents former troopers from Lawrence County made the trip to the annual memorial service which honored Lawrence County’s own Indiana State Police Trooper Robert Craig Gillespie. They were Tom Cox, Jim Richardson, Lonnie Summers, and Vernon Wright.
Indiana State Police Trooper Robert Craig Gillespie
Trooper Gillespie gave his life in the line of duty on June 8, 1962. Trooper Gillespie was responding to a request for assistance in the Town of Mitchell. He was traveling at a high rate of speed with emergency lights on when he 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 then was struck by another car. Trooper Gillespie died as a result of his injuries.
Trooper Gillespie, from Bedford, was assigned to the Seymour Post. His wife and six children survived him.
In 1951, he was awarded the agencies Gold Star Award for Valor when, in spite of gunshot wounds, he continued to pursue a couple who fired at him.
A portion of State Road 37 near Mitchell is dedicated in his memory – “Trooper Robert Gillespie Memorial Mile.”
During the service, each of the trooper names was read, the date they started with the Indiana State Police and the day they gave their lives in the line of duty.
The sound of Taps filled the air, and a closing prayer was said by former Trooper Larry Valentine.
Larry Valentine concludes service with prayer at today’s memorial service.
Trooper Sam Gillespie, the grandson of Stephen Gillespie, told WBIW. “It is an honor and privilege to wear the same uniform that my grandfather wore. I wear the same shooting pin that my grandfather wore, and although I never got to meet him.”
Trooper Sam Gillespie honored to serve in his grandfather’s footsteps.
Retired Trooper Jim Richardson spoke of how it was hard to fill the shoes of Trooper Robert Gillespie. Richardson transferred to the Seymour post to fill the vacancy after Gillespie’s death.
“He was a very tough act to follow,” he added. “It was a difficult time for the post and those who worked with Trooper Gillespie.:
Richardson reflected on how things have improved.
“Today, troopers wear bulletproof vests,” he added. “Back then there was only one radar gun, and the cars had no air conditioning.”
“It is always an honor to keep the memory of those who have been killed in the line of duty,” says ISP Sgt. Curt Durnil. “Each year, in May the Bloomington Post conducts the memorial service.”