Walk honors memory of fallen police officers

First Posted: 1/28/2015

PILOT MOUNTAIN — An annual memorial walk will be held Saturday morning to honor the memory of fallen Pilot Mountain Police Officers Glenn Branscome and Ralph East.

Branscome and East were shot and killed on the night of Feb. 3, 1969, along the side of the Old Highway 52 Bypass behind East Surry High School after they had stopped a vehicle matching the description of one used in two Forsyth County armed robberies earlier that night.

The walk will begin following a brief memorial ceremony at 8 a.m. in the parking lot of the Tlaquepaque Mexican Grill, at 511 E. Highway 52 Bypass (Branscome-East Highway) in Pilot Mountain.

Participants will then make their way along 1.5 miles of the route Branscome and East followed the suspect vehicle before stopping it. Van transportation will be provided for those who wish to participate but do not feel they can walk any or part of the 1.5-mile distance or in the event of inclement weather.

Upon arrival at a location behind East Surry High School, identified by a roadside cross as the site of the deadly confrontation, walkers will gather alongside a large granite monument recognizing the tragedy. A town of Pilot Mountain official will be among those sharing remarks at that time.

Afterwards, transportation will be offered to carry participants back to their own vehicles.

Local resident Chet Jessup, a retired law enforcement veteran who has been instrumental in honoring the memories of the fallen officers, serves each year as the event’s primary organizer. Jessup had organized the first gathering in 2007, in conjunction with the section of road being dedicated as the Officer Glenn Branscome-Officer Ralph East Highway.

“For a long time,” Jessup noted, “this tragedy was not remembered. It’s important that we come out to show our respect for these fallen officers and their families. We do this to show respect for their sacrifice and to remember their loss.

“A lot of people here still remember when this happened,” he continued, “and a lot come out to walk every year.”

Jessup encouraged residents to take part in the walk as a way of showing support for officers and their families.

“Those who don’t walk are still encouraged to come out and attend the ceremony,” he noted. “Some aren’t physically able to walk. We encourage them to ride along while we walk.”

Anyone needing additional information may contact Jessup at 336-374-5409.

Dean Palmer may be reached at 336-351-4131 or [email protected]

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