26th Annual MD “Fallen Heroes” Day Memorial Service

April 6, 2011

Dulaney Valley Honors Fallen Police, Firefighters

Three Baltimore police officers and a Baltimore County firefighter will be honored next month at the annual Fallen Heroes Day ceremony at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens. The event is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Friday, May 6.

A procession of 25 honor guards will open the ceremony at the Timonium cemetery, which is to include an address by Gov. Martin O’Malley.

At left is a photo from Fallen Heroes day in 2009, taken by The Sun’s Lloyd Fox.

Here is a list of police and firefighters being honored, from a statement issued by organizers:

Maryland’s 2011 Fallen Heroes

Sergeant Hector Ismael Ayala of the Montgomery County Police Department died on April 4, shortly before the 2010 Fallen Heroes Day.  He was responding to backup another officer at the scene of a large fight at a Wheaton area bar when he lost control of his car, which left the road and hit a tree. Sergeant Ayala, who was promoted posthumously, had been a member of the police department for seven years. He is survived by his wife Melissa, son Hector and triplet daughters born two months after his death.

Trooper First Class Wesley Washington John Brown of the Maryland State Police Forestville Barracks was fatally shot on June 11 while working an off-duty security detail at an Applebee’s restaurant. Trooper Brown was outside the restaurant when a man he had escorted from the property earlier in the evening for failing to pay his bill returned and shot him. A member of the force for three years, Trooper Brown was also the founder of a mentoring organization called Young Men Enlightening Younger Men. Trooper Brown, who was 24 at the time of his death, is survived by his fiancé, a large family and hundreds of young boys who he mentored.

Officer James Earl Fowler, III of the Baltimore Police Department died on September 27 in an automobile accident while on his way to a training course at Penn State University. The veteran officer, a member of the force for 34 years, encountered inclement weather on the drive, which caused his car to leave the road and strike the center divider. Officer Fowler, who was 61 at the time of his death, is survived by his wife and two children.

Officer Thomas Russell Portz, Jr. of the Baltimore Police Department was killed on October 20 when his patrol car rear-ended a fire truck, stopped in the left lane of a highway. The fire truck was responding to a medical call in the eastbound lanes while the westbound lanes were being used by a film crew making a movie. Officer Portz, a member of the force for nearly 10 years, received the honor of having the U.S. Honor Flag displayed at his funeral. The flag is the one that flew over New York’s Ground Zero during recovery operations following the September 11th attacks. Officer Portz, who was 32 at the time of his death, is survived by his wife, Jessica and three children.

Officer William H. Torbit, Jr. of the Baltimore Police Department was killed on January 9, the victim of an accidental shooting by a fellow officer. Officer Torbit, a plainclothes officer was breaking up a large fight at a nightclub when he was attacked by a group of men. When he drew his service weapon, other responding officers mistook him for a gunman and shot and killed him. Officer Torbit, age 33 had been a member of the police force for eight years. He is survived by his parents and siblings.

Firefighter/Paramedic Mark Gray Falkenhan a member of both the Lutherville and the Middle River Volunteer Fire Departments was killed while fighting an apartment fire with the Lutherville Company on January 19.  A member of the Secret Service for the past four years, Firefighter Falkenhan was well-known countywide, having been stationed at nine firehouses in Baltimore County during his 16 years of service as a professional firefighter, paramedic and trainer. The 43-year–old volunteer is the first Baltimore County firefighter to die in a blaze since the 1984 Shiller Furniture Store fire, which served as an inspiration for Fallen Heroes Day.  Firefighter Falkenhan was posthumously awarded Baltimore County Fire Department’s Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart. He survived by his wife, Gladys and two sons.

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