TIMONIUM — The 35th annual Fallen Heroes Day ceremony, which traditionally takes place on the first Friday in May at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, could not take place May 1 due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak.
“We were hoping to reschedule the ceremony later in the summer, but given the uncertainty of the evolving nature of the virus, a decision has been made to honor our current fallen heroes alongside those we will honor at next year’s ceremony, May 7, 2021,” said Jack Mitchell, president of Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, on April 27.
“Although we cannot gather at the Fallen Heroes Memorial on May 1, 2020 we encourage all Marylanders to take a moment to remember the dedicated first responders lost within the last year, as well as all police, firefighters, and emergency medical/rescue personnel who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Additionally, we thank all those on the front lines who are working to keep our community safe as they steadfastly respond to the coronavirus,” he added.
The following fallen heroes were lost within the past year and will be publicly honored at the 2021 ceremony:
Police Officer III Kyle David Olinger of the Montgomery County Police Department, Maryland, who died on April 18, 2019. Olinger succumbed to complications of a gunshot wound sustained on Aug. 13, 2003, while making a traffic stop in Silver Spring. As a result of that shooting, Olinger remained paralyzed below the chest until his passing this past April. Olinger served with distinction, serving two years with the Montgomery County Police Department and six years with the Reading Police Department.
Firefighter Michael “Mike” Powers of the Libertytown Volunteer Fire Department in Frederick County, who died on June 25, 2019. While responding to the scene of a fatal vehicle accident involving a tanker truck and car, Powers suffered a medical emergency as he was clearing away wreckage from the Route 26 accident. The veteran volunteer firefighter’s distinguished fire service career spanned more than 50 years.
Assistant Engineer Otis Isaacs Jr. of the North East Fire Company who died on Dec. 29, 2019. The volunteer firefighter, who was past chief engineer, president and chief of the fire company, suffered a cardiac arrest following a shift working on a fire department vehicle and working standby for two responses. Isaacs joined the North East Fire Co. in 1964 and was one of several members of his family to be part of the department. He was inducted into the Harford-Cecil Hall of Fame in 2003.
In addition, each year the ceremony honors one firefighter and one police officer who died in the line of duty before Fallen Heroes Day was established. These two first responders will be honored at the 2021 ceremony:
Firefighter Alexander C. Johnson of Rescue Hose Company No. 1, Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, who died on July 13, 1958. While fighting a warehouse fire on Shaw Street in Annapolis, Johnson collapsed and later died at the hospital as a result of heart failure. A World War II veteran, his dedication to the fire service spanned more than 10 years, working both as a volunteer with the City of Annapolis Hose Company and as a full-time firefighter at the Naval Academy.
Police Officer Milton I. Spell of the Baltimore City Police Department, who died on Aug. 15, 1974. Spell, who was on foot patrol, was shot and killed after stopping a suspected drunk driver. The driver had stolen the car and waited for Spell to approach him, at which point he shot the officer striking him in the chest and abdomen. Spell was a veteran, having served three tours in Vietnam with the Special Forces of the U.S. Army. He served proudly with the Baltimore City Police Department for seven years.
Note: a list of all fallen heroes honored since the ceremony began 35 years ago will be found at www.dulaneyvalley.com.