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Stretch of I-5 dedicated to slain CHP officers

Posted: April 5, 2008 1:25 a.m.
Updated: June 6, 2008 5:02 a.m.

The California Highway Patrol memorial drill team performs a 21 gun salute Friday in Santa Clarita during the memorial and dedication for the four CHP officers killed 38 years ago.

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A memorial service honoring four California Highway Patrol officers Friday morning caused many veteran law enforcement officers to reflect on one of the bloodiest gun battles ever witnessed in America.

On April 6, 1970, four CHP officers were shot and killed in the line of duty.

On Friday, surviving members of their family, their colleagues and politicians - about 400 - unveiled a highway sign in their honor.

The green sign designates a portion of Interstate 5 in their names: Walter C. Frago, Roger D. Gore, James E. Pence Jr. and George M. Alleyn.

All four slain patrolmen were young married men with children, each with less than two years experience; three of them had children aged one year old.

Elyse Taylor, Gore's daughter, was one of the surviving children to speak at the memorial service. She was one year old when her father was shot and killed.

'Bonded together'
"I didn't remember my father's hugs and kisses. But my father's picture never stands alone. It's always pictured with these three men.

I didn't have just one father growing up, I had four fathers," she told Friday's morning assembly. "These men are bonded together.

"I have an extended family in the California Highway Patrol," she said. "I am so appreciative. This is my family. Thank you for having me here today."

Jay Pense was named after his father.

"This is a great way to say 'thank you' and to honor their commitment to protecting the people of California," he said.

Kevin Alleyn was also only one year old when his father was slain.

"My dad was the kind of person all the other kids looked up to. I was the cool kid on the block," he said. "On April 6, countless lives changed forever."

Nicky Frago, Officer Frago's widow, said simply: "Thank you very much for not forgetting."

Among those attending the special service was retired U.S. Marine Gary Kness, whom CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow called a "true American hero."

Kness ran to the aid of the wounded officers that night in 1970 as they were exchanging gunfire with two gunmen.

Kness, then 31, was just about to start his midnight shift working at Hydraulic Research in the industrial park at Rye Canyon, and was driving in the area when he stumbled on the gun battle.

He stopped about 200 feet from the CHP patrolcars and, when he saw Alleyn fall, he ran to the officer's aid and tried to drag him to the back of the patrolcar, picked up a shotgun and fired at the gunmen, only to find the gun was empty.

'It's too emotional'
Then, as one of the gunmen walked towards him, Kness picked up a bloody handgun off the ground and fired one shot at the killer, causing him to flee.

"I try to keep it in the background. It's too emotional," Kness said after the ceremony. "I'm glad they still remember and chose to honor these guys."

Kness, who lived in Saugus at the time of the shooting, is retired and lives in Palmdale now.

"It's getting worse," Kness said about the nature of crime today.

"They don't care today. They hurt you just because they can."

Now everyone driving by the scene of one of the nation's worst gun battles to ever claim the lives of law enforcement officers will see the names of the heroes who died that day.

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