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Ocean County Honors Its Fallen Heroes

Ocean County law enforcement officials and officers gather to remember those lost in the line of duty in the last year

There are 12 names etched in the monuments at Ocean County Park in Lakewood.

It's a list that grew longer in the last year, as more law enforcement families joined those whose family members made the ultimate sacrifice in giving their lives in the line of duty.

During the annual Law Enforcement Memorial Day Service, on the grounds at the Ocean County Police Academy within the park, those officers were remembered again, as the county's entire law enforcement family paused to honor their sacrifices.

"I've always believed that we are one large law enforcement family," said Juan Mattos Jr., U.S. Marshal for the District of New Jersey, who was the keynote speaker at the service. "When one of us bleeds, we all bleed."

"Remembrance is the greatest tribute and honor to those who've fallen in the line of duty," Mattos said.

The number of officers killed in the line of duty rose 13 percent in 2011, with 173 officers killed nationwide. Of those, 68 died in firearms incidents, while 64 died in traffic accidents. Five of those killed in 2011 were from New Jersey, including Lakewood Patrolman Christopher Matlosz and Ocean County Prosecutor's Office Detective Tina Rambo.

"While we all work together, you bear the greatest risk," Mattos told the many law enforcement officers in attendance at the service, representing every department in the county.

Retired Police Chief William Dikun, who emceed the service, read off the list of all 12 Ocean County officers who've lost their lives:

-- NJ State Trooper First Class Joseph A. Smith, Aug. 4, 1927

-- Marshal Arnold Johnson, Point Pleasant Police Department, July 22, 1928

-- NJ State Trooper Leonard P. McCandless, June 28, 1931

-- NJ State Trooper John Ressler, May 1, 1931

-- Lakewood Police Officer Hartley Richter, April 8, 1946

-- NJ State Trooper Raymond P. Fiola, Feb. 19, 1962

-- Chief Angelo J. Leonetti, Long Beach Twp., March 6, 1962

-- Manchester Township Police Officer Robert T. Tobias, May 17, 1975

-- Brick Township Police Officer Richard J. Harper, May 4, 1978

-- Stafford Township Police Officer Larry Dunfee, April 27, 1981

-- Jackson Township Police Officer Robert Ventura, March 18, 2001

-- Lakewood Police Officer William Preslar, May 13, 2007

-- Ocean Gate Police Officer Jason C. Marles, Nov. 25, 2010

-- Lakewood Police Officer Christopher A Matlosz, Jan. 14, 2011

-- Ocean County Prosecutor's Office Detective Tina A. Rambo, Aug. 1, 2011

Ocean County Freeholder John C. Kelly, who is in charge of the Law and Public Safety Committee, and Freeholder Director Gerry Little presented a proclamation at the memorial service, which they gave to Beach Haven Police Chief Kevin Kohler, who is president of the Ocean County Chiefs of Police Association. Also in attendance were Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford; former county prosecutor and current Assemblyman James Holzapfel; Ocean County Clerk Scott Colabella.

The Ocean County Academy of the Arts, chorus and the Point Pleasant Borough High School Band performed at the ceremonies.

"It is important for law enforcement to come together and support each other,"  Ford said afterward. "It's also important for the family members (of the officers who were killed), to see that we are here for them."

"As much as you're honored that they acknowledge your child, it rips your heart out all over again," said Pat Engrassia, mother of Marles.

"As difficult as it is, it's comforting in the same way," said Joseph Engrassia, Marles' stepfather, who's also a detective in Seaside Heights. 

Nick Carraway May 20, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Prayers for all of the families and friends who lost loved ones this past year. Personally, I mourne for the Marles family from Point Pleasant Beach.
Really?? May 31, 2012 at 10:24 PM
It's sad whenever a young and vital person loses their life. It is particularly sad when a life is lost in the line of duty as a law enforcement officer. Those who lost their lives in the line of duty are, indeed, "heros" and deserve to be honored as such. What I wonder is why Tina Rambo is considered to be a "hero" by making the "ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty". The woman died in a car accident on the way to work. Her death was tragic but that dies not make her a hero. It minimizes the honor.

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