Thank you, Acting Director [Dave] Harlow, for that introduction. And thank you for your more than 30 years of service to the Marshals Service.
We are gathered – during this Police Week – to pay special tribute to the memory of Deputy Commander Patrick Carothers.
I especially want to thank Terry, Jessica, Conner and the entire Carothers family. You helped Patrick become the man that he was. And the strength that you have shown at this difficult time is nothing short of amazing.
Today, we recall his 20 years of service as a Deputy U. S. Marshal and for his service as Deputy Commander of the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force.
As we do that, we also remember what it means to be a U.S. Marshal.
Marshals catch fugitives on the run. They keep our courthouses, our judges and our witnesses safe.
It was the Marshals who brought peace and order to the Wild West. It was the Marshals who stood guard during the Civil Rights Movement, protecting innocent people.
That tradition of keeping our communities safe has continued unbroken since 1789. Just in the last decade, U.S. Marshals have arrested more than one million violent fugitives. They have recovered hundreds of missing children. They have safely transported more than 2.5 million detainees and inmates, and protected our communities by completing more than 300,000 compliance checks on registered sex offenders.
They do these things at great risk – at the risk even of their lives. And they know that. They and their families know that only too well.
It takes courage to wear a badge for even one day. It takes a lot more courage to wear it for 20 years, like Patrick Carothers did.
He lost his life while trying to arrest a suspect wanted on charges of attempted murder – attempted murder of police officers.
When I heard about his loss, I was reminded of the man who is synonymous with the Marshals service: Robert Forsyth.
Robert Forsyth was, of course, Patrick’s predecessor. He was the very first U.S. Marshal for Georgia, appointed by President George Washington.
He was also the first U.S. Marshal killed in the line of duty, and the namesake of the Marshals Service’s award for valor.
He died while serving papers to two men in Augusta. One of the men saw him coming, and in a cowardly act, fired his weapon through the door, killing Forsyth instantly.
More than 400 Marshals and Deputy Marshals have made that same sacrifice since that day. Each of them was an American hero.
Deputy Commander Carothers was an American hero, too.
He died during an important mission – bringing to justice a dangerous and violent criminal.
After so many years in law enforcement, he could have retired or gotten a desk job. But that just wasn’t for him.
That day – and so many other days – Deputy Commander Carothers led from the front. He was the first officer through the door in pursuing the suspect.
He left behind him what he was most proud of: his wife of 30 years, Terry and their five children.
I think it’s clear that he handed down to his children his commitment to serving this country. All three of Patrick and Terry’s grown sons – Lieutenant Michael Carothers, Ensign Matthew Carothers and Midshipman Paul Carothers – are serving our country in the Navy. In fact, they couldn’t be here today because they are currently serving. But they are certainly with us in spirit.
The tragedy happened on November 18th, just before Thanksgiving, when we as Americans set aside time to gather with family and give thanks for our blessings.
That time of year will never be the same for this family. They will never stop missing him. But neither will they ever forget his heroic example.
Nor will the more than 2,000 people who came to his funeral. Nor will we.
We won’t forget what he did, and we won’t forget who he was.
If you talk to his fellow Marshals and Deputy Marshals who knew him, they’ll tell you that Patrick was always quick with a smile, and that, if you offered him a handshake, he might just give you a hug instead.
They’ll also tell you just how proud he was to be a member of America’s oldest and most versatile federal law enforcement agency.
And as proud as he was to be a U.S. Marshal, the Marshals Service is even more proud of him – to have had someone like him wear the badge.
Today we unveil his name on the Marshals Service Wall of Honor. Whenever people come to headquarters, they will see his name. And when they see his name, they will think about his example, what he did for us. I hope that will inspire us to imitate his bravery, his dedication and his love of country. Thank you.