EXTENDED FAMILY - (l-r) Julie, Diane and Erica Hacker were escorted at the Capitol by friends and officers First Sgt. Thomas K. Mullens of Princeton Detachment. Sgt. Sharon Deitz of Charleston Headquarters, Sgt.. Gerrold E. Ratliff of Welch, Sgt. Ron G. Blevins and Tpr. Steven J. Verdow of the Harrisville Detachment.





Awarded Medal of Honor
By Janet Hodge

As twilight settled across our nation's capital on Friday, May 13th, the bright flames of over 1,000 candles lit the area on Judiciary Square. In the crowd, the sobbing of a small boy could be heard as the names of 146 fallen police officers were called.

Standing closely together in the crowd were Diane, Erica and Julie Hacker - the survivors of Senior Trooper Larry G. Hacker. Also present were Sgt. Ron Blevins, wife Karen, and children, and Tpr. Steven Verdow and his wife, Mary. As the small group from Ritchie County stood in close company, they were soon to realize that everyone in attendance that night was, indeed, a survivor.

The roll call that evening was given as part of the 1994 ceremonies in Washington, D. C. which commemorated National Police Week. During the past year, 146 police officers were killed in the line of duty and each name was read during the vigil at the nation's capital.

Tpr. Hacker was fatally shot on April 8, 1993, after he responded to a dispute in the White Oak Community near Pullman. His accused killer, Dennis Ferguson, later committed suicide while detained in the Ritchie County Jail.

Regarding the events during the past year, Hacker's widow Diane said, "The West Virginia State Police is top-notch when it comes to taking care of their own."

As she recalled the night of her husband's death, her words rang true: "The night Larry was killed, Karen Blevins came to my house. Within a few minutes Patty Deak and Wanda Hissom also arrived. Karen and Wanda stayed at the house and notified the rest of the

Jesus said unto her, I am tile resurrection, and the life: 
he that believeth in me, though he were dead yet shall he live: 
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shaft never die.
John 11:25-26

family and Patty drove us to the hospital. We were met along Route 50 by a police car with a flashing blue light, and they escorted us all the way to the hospital. The next thing I remember was Colonel Kirk. He was with me when they told me that Larry didn't make it." Although, for the Hacker family, the coming weeks were more trying than any they had faced, the words of Hacker's fellow officers comforted the family - "If you need anything, anything at all, just let us know. We're here to help."

During the largest memorial service in the county's history, officers from across the country paid last respects to Trooper Hacker. Among the crowd, nearly every segment of Tpr. Hacker's life was represented - he was a friend to all and knew no stranger.

"When Larry was growing up, he wanted to be a policeman or a fireman," said Diane. Hacker's goals were not easily achievable, remarked Diane. "He worked hard for six years to get into the academy and he never gave up hope."

Much like Larry Hacker, his family also refuses to give up the hope to which they cling. "The Lord has been with me," said Diane, "and I know where Larry is. He can't be here with us, but he's in a better place."

As Hacker's death touched many lives across the country, Diane and her daughters received hundreds of letters of encouragement. "I received one letter from a woman whose husband was in the Air Force. His plane was shot down over the Ionian Sea. He was killed just 15 days before Larry, but this woman took time to write to me," said Diane. "I carried that letter with me for many weeks because she was someone who was experiencing the same kind of grief, and her words comforted me."

Among the letters and gifts which the Hacker family received following Larry's death, one stands in a prominent place in the family's home. A small white Bible with an inscription, "From the Cruisin' Crew," lets the family know the many lives which Tpr. Hacker touched. "That night [April 8th] the parking lot downtown was filled with kids. They were waiting to see if Larry would make it. These were the same kids who usually cruised around town, and some people thought were trouble-causers. I just didn't realize how Larry had touched so many lives."

A lifetime of fond memories may be all the Hacker family have, but it's enough to see them through the hard times. "I remember when we first moved here," said Diane. "Every time that Larry had a day off, we would drive around the back-roads in the county. Larry said he
wanted to know where all the hollows were in case someone needed him."

As the family adjusts and their lives continue, the presence of Larry Hacker remains hovering above those he held so close to his heart. "He's here," said Diane with a smile, "and I know we'll all be together again some day."

Assuming the responsibilities of raising their two daughters, Diane has learned much during the past year. As young Julie returned from school last week, she showed Diane a book she had purchased at school. Looking at the book, Diane laughed, and read the title aloud, "Take Time to Relax."

When Erica returned from school she sat close to her mother on the couch, and began her homework. As Julie rocked quietly and played with her cat, the family once again was joined. "We're all pretty protective of each other," said Diane, smiling at the girls. "And we're going to make it."

Senior Trooper Larry G. Hacker was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by the Fraternal Order of Police which noted his supreme sacrifice. Hacker's wife and daughters were given the medal during services held in Washington, D. C.