The annual walk to honor the memories of fallen Pilot Mountain Police Officers Glenn Branscome and Ralph East will take place Saturday morning and all area residents are invited to take part.
Officers Branscome and East were shot and killed on the night of Feb. 3, 1969, at a location along the side of the Old Highway 52 Bypass behind East Surry High School, after they had stopped a car matching the description of a vehicle 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 East Highway 52 Bypass (Branscome-East Highway) in Pilot Mountain.
Participants will then make their way on foot along 1.5-miles of the route over which Officers 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 representative 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. All ages are invited to attend and to take part in the walk.
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.
Jessup, whose family lived in Pilot Mountain, was 8 years old at the time of the tragedy and over the years has grown increasingly aware of its lasting impact on the community. At the time of the shooting, the Pilot Mountain Police Department was made up of four officers, including Branscome and East.
“We walk to honor the memory of fallen officers Branscome and East,” Jessup explained, “and out of respect for their surviving family members. We walk to show that these men did not die in vain.”
“It’s been 49 years since this tragedy,” he continued. “A lot of people who lived in the Pilot Mountain community have since passed away or moved on and others have come here. This walk is a way to remember and to inform those who have taken up residency here in the past 49 years. This is a part of the town of Pilot Mountain history.”
Anyone requesting additional information may contact Jessup at 374-5409.