ISP honors its fallen
LOWELL — Indiana State Police Probationary Trooper Lewis E. Phillips of Michigan City was 24 when he died in a crash while responding to another’s trooper’s call for assistance in 1975.
Trooper Robert O. Lietzan, a Westville native, was 31 when he was fatally shot by a suspect in rural Franklin County in 1961.
The two La Porte County natives are among a total of 46 members of the Indiana State Police, men and women, who have died in the line of duty since the department’s inception in 1933.
On Friday, the ISP Lowell Post conducted its annual memorial service to honor those members of the department who gave their lives while serving.
Troopers were brought to attention and prepared for roll call by Lowell Sgt. Dan Leslie before members of the North Region Honor Guard displayed the national and state flags. Lt. Terry Gose, commander of the Lowell District, and First Sgt. Terrance Weems, assistant district commander, then read each fallen member’s name, along with a description of the circumstances surrounding their deaths.
Phillips, appointed to the former Dunes Park District was five days of completing one year as a probationary trooper when he responded to a call for assistance from a fellow trooper who was pursuing a suspect. Phillips was traveling on U.S. 20 when his patrol car crested a hill and collided with a semi truck that was making an illegal U-turn. Trooper Phillips died at the scene on April 16, 1975.
Lietzan was appointed to the Connersville District on Aug. 16, 1961. Eight years later, he was responding to a complaint of a man firing shots at a family in a camping area in rural Franklin County. He and other police officers arrived on the scene to find the suspect in a barricaded position.
As police called for the suspect to surrender, he fired several shots into the group of officers, fatally wounding Lietzan, who died on March 30, 1969.
After the names of the fallen officers were read, the Lake County Sheriff’s Pipes and Drums Corps played the bagpipes to the tune of “Amazing Grace”; and “Taps” was performed by First Sgt. Brian Schnick.
Since the early days of the Indiana State Police, memorial services have been held each May at all district posts to perpetuate the memory of those who have died in the line of duty, according to Master Trooper Glen Fifield.
“The service serves as a means of paying tribute to those who died in the line of duty, that their sacrifice was not made in vain, and as a reminder to those of us left behind that we should strive to maintain the level of professional service to the public our departed comrades so unselfishly gave their lives for,” he said.
The first ever memorial service was held on Memorial Day 1943 at the former Ligonier Post in northern Indiana.
For a complete list of Indiana troopers killed in the line of duty and a summary of their deaths, visit the Indiana State Police website at in.gov/isp and click on the In Memoriam link under About ISP on the left side of the page.
—From staff reports