A memorial bike ride Thursday paid tribute to two Ellis County-based Department of Public Safety troopers who lost their lives in the line of duty: Travis Raburn Locker, whose end of watch was Nov. 9, 1969, and Milton Curtis Alexander, whose end of watch was April 14, 1983.
The ride, organized by senior trooper James Colunga of Ennis, had its starting point at the memorial marker for Locker, located off of Brookside Road at Interstate 35E in Waxahachie. There, a special service honored both men with prayer, remembrances and music.
After securing a wreath in place by Locker’s marker, the riders – escorted by DPS units – then traveled south on U.S. Highway 77 to Milford before turning east onto Farm-to-Market 308. About three miles outside of the city limits, they set out another wreath by Alexander’s memorial marker.
Information on the website, Officer Down Memorial Page, relates how Locker, a nine-year veteran, was shot and killed after he stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation near Brookside Road.
The 49-year-old Alexander, a 16-year veteran, was killed when a suspect intentionally rammed a stolen vehicle into his patrol car, according to the website.
After opening remarks by Colunga, Ellis County Sheriff’s Office chaplain Bruce Stayments read several scripture passages and prayed over the gathering.
Standing in front of Locker’s marker, retired DPS trooper Roscoe Davis recalled several memories of his former partner.
“He was a good guy to work with. I’ve had some good partners and he was one of them,” Davis said. “I remember him like it was yesterday.”
Stayments noted that memorial services are a time of reflection, not only on the lives lost but on the lives of those present.
“Are we doing what’s important? Are we living a life of dedicated service?” he asked. “Even to the point of death, (these men) served to defend our freedoms.”
Recalling Jesus’ remarks in the Bible of how there is no greater love man has than to lay down his life for another, Stayments said, “We thank God for their lives. … We should allow their lives to inspire us.”
The service included the singing of “Amazing Grace” and a trumpet rendition of “Taps,” with those gathered spending several minutes afterwards visiting and sharing memories of their loved ones.
For the families, the loss runs as deep as ever; however, mixed in with their tears were smiles as the numerous family members gathered shared their remembrances of two men who made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of their community.
“It means a lot to know he’s not forgotten,” said Locker’s widow, Alice, who noted he so wanted to be a trooper he continued to test – three times in all – until he was accepted into DPS.
“He really wanted to be a trooper. It was all he wanted to do,” she said.
Daughter Kathy recalled Locker as a funny, kind-hearted man.
“I remember him bringing kids home who had run away. He brought them to the house until the parents could get them,” she said. “He was a good man.”
Among those sharing remembrances of Alexander were his wife, Jo, and daughter, Kelli.
“It means a lot,” Jo said, with Kelli adding, “The fact he’s still being remembered after all these years.”
“He was a sweet, gentle man,” Jo said. “He was very caring.”
Kelli noted that the Officer Down Memorial Page allows people to leave messages under each officer’s article.
“There’s a letter there from a woman who thanks him for arresting her. It was a lady he had stopped for DWI (in October 1980),” Kelli said. “She says in her letter she’s been sober ever since. She celebrated 30 years of sobriety in 2010.”
“I think he touched a lot of people,” Jo said.
On their way to Austin
After placing the second wreath, the participating riders then continued under escort to Waco, from where they were scheduled to depart Friday for Austin, the starting point for this weekend’s DPS Memorial Ride and candlelight vigil.
Colunga, who serves as president of the nonprofit organization’s board of directors, founded the DPS Memorial Ride several years ago with the goal of building a memorial at the agency’s headquarters in Austin. A portion of the funds raised also go into a disability fund to assist officers and their families in need.
This was the second year for the Ellis County “Challenge Ride” in addition to the DPS Memorial Ride out of Austin, with this year’s local ride having the specific intent to honor the memory of the two fallen troopers.
“This is for you,” Colunga told the gathered families, friends and other dignitaries. “Today is in memory of your loved ones.”
On the Internet:
Officer Down Memorial Page www.odmp.org
DPS Memorial Ride www.dpsride.org