Area residents are invited to come out for an annual memorial walk Saturday morning, honoring the memory of fallen Pilot Mountain Police Officers Glenn Branscome and Ralph East.
Officers 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. The brutal tragedy occurred 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 East Highway 52 Bypass (Branscome-East Highway) in Pilot Mountain.
Participants will then make their way along 1.5-miles of the route over which Officers Branscome and East followed the suspect vehicle before stopping it.
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 the town of Pilot Mountain will be among those sharing remarks at that time.
All ages are invited to take part in the walk. A bus will be provided for those who wish to participate but do not feel they can walk any or part of the route or in the event of inclement weather. 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.
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, the Pilot Mountain Police Department was made up of four officers, including Branscome and East.
“It’s important that our community recognize these two fallen officers and show their respect,” Jessup said. “There are still family members of both officers in this area and we want them to know that people still care.”
“This was a shock when it happened and there are a lot of people here who still remember that day and the days that followed,” he noted. “And we want the people who are younger or who have come here later to know about it. It’s important that these officers are remembered.”
“Whether they walk or ride,” Jessup said, “we’re hoping to see a good crowd come out and take part in honoring the memory of these fallen officers.”
Anyone requesting additional information may contact Jessup at 374-5409.
Dean Palmer may be reached at 336-351-4131 or email@example.com.