By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (May 14, 2019) -- Police officers with the Pentagon Force Protection Agency gathered in the courtyard at the Pentagon to recognize the valor and sacrifice of their own as part of the 2019 National Police Week events in Washington.
This week in the nation's capital, at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, the names of an additional 144 police officers from around the United States who died in the line of duty during 2018 will be inscribed alongside the more than 21,000 names already there.
"It is our duty to let the survivors, families, friends and coworkers know that our fallen officers have not, and will not, be forgotten," Pentagon Police Chief Woody Kusse said at the memorial today.
Remembering a Fallen Comrade
Among the names already engraved on the memorial is that of PFPA's own, Officer James. M. Feltis III.
"Always seeking challenges, James stepped forward to meet the threat to our community during the anthrax investigation by serving in the hazardous material response unit," Kusse said. "It was in that spirit that he was struck by a fleeing suspect on the morning of Jan. 11, 2005, as he stepped forward once again to protect who he thought was a citizen in mortal danger."
Feltis was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Valor in February of that year. Since 9/11, a total of 27 PFPA officers have earned that medal. Many were recognized in person at the Pentagon.
Feltis eventually succumbed to his injuries and passed away on Feb. 14, 2005. His window, Mary Feltis, said she remains grateful to PFPA for continuing to remember their own, and for remembering her and keeping her as part of the family.
"A lot of us survivors, a lot of us feel, but I've never felt -- I'm so blessed -- is that survivors are sometimes forgotten," Mary Feltis said. "After a year or two, it's over. For a lot of people. But it's never over for us. So it's wonderful to have the organization continue to support us and to be able to know that they still remember James and the sacrifice he made. And thanks also to a lot of the people here in this department who have been so great and not left our sides."
For many in the Pentagon, PFPA officers are most visible at entry control points -- checking badges and verifying access for employees and visitors to the building. But Kusse said the agency does much more than that.
Inside the Pentagon, PFPA officers provide security and protection for nearly 23,000 individuals. The agency provides protection also for an equal number of individuals that work in the "scores of buildings we have responsibility for in the [National Capital Region]," Kusse said.
Moving between those buildings, PFPA officers can also provide police services to civilians in need when they find them. "We'll run into a citizen in distress, or a traffic accident or some other need for police services," Kusse said. "We are empowered to take action then. We are not just security guards. We are fully-fledged law enforcement officers."
The chief said the PFPA team includes not just law enforcement, but chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high explosive protection directorates as well as intelligence and counterintelligence assets.
"There is no mission, no single DOD agency that has a mission quite like ours," he said. "We are fusion of all the things that are required for force protection. You name the discipline, and we are all fused here. The strength that we have in our relatively small 1,200 employee agency is in our diversity, and how well we are fused together in one cohesive team."