Area residents are invited to join in an annual memorial walk on 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 February 3, 1969, along the side of 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 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 near a large granite monument recognizing the tragedy.
All ages are invited to take part in the walk. A bus will be provided by Brims Grove Baptist Church 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. He 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.
“This shows our respect for these fallen officers,” Jessup said, “and recognizes that what they did for this community has not been forgotten. This shows their family that people respect their sacrifice and want to show them we care.”
“A lot of the people here today don’t know about this happening,” he continued, “but it’s an important part of the history of this town. It reminds us that it’s not just in the big cities or far-away places that things like this can happen. It has happened here and it can happen again.”
“This is about respecting and remembering. We want to show that some people still respect what these officers stood for.”
Anyone requesting additional information may contact Jessup at (336) 374-5409.