Harrison Co. holds 'End of Watch' ceremony for deputy killed 45 years ago

Harrison Co. holds 'End of Watch' ceremony for deputy killed 45 years ago

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - It's called the end of watch, the moment in time when an officer lays down their life protecting others.

Family members, friends, and fellow officers were present for the ceremony.

Earl Wesley Phillips died on February 19th, 1973.

Despite the passage of time, the pain of loss is still there for grandson Wesley Phillips, Sr. He said, "Well, i was only nine months old so I didn't know anything about it. I know that he held me that morning and it happened shortly after but I never got the chance to know my grandfather."

Other relatives never knew him, but know that he died doing what he loved.

One of them is his grandson, Hunter Phillips. "I'm very proud that he was out protecting and doing things for the people to be safe and unfortunately, it ended the way it did, but extremely proud of him."

Sheriff Troy Peterson took the lead on planning this special ceremony. "We put this together to not only give the family a little but of closure with the sheriff's department, but to honor the deputy that was killed in the line of duty," Peterson explained.

The teenager accused of the deputy's killing only spent 10 years in jail, still a shock to the family, including Hunter. "I don't think it's right the fact that you take someone's life and then take a small punishment and then he's out in danger of everyone else again," he explained.

Forty-five years have passed since Earl Wesley Phillips paid the ultimate sacrifice  protecting the people of Harrison County. Monday's ceremony was the first of it's kind, but it won't be the last.

That's's the promise from the sheriff. "Why he wasn't honored in the past, I can't answer that. But as far as I'm concerned, as long as I'm here, he'll be honored."

After the heartfelt tribute, there were plenty of hugs and a feeling of peace for Wesley senior. "It heals, yes it does. This means a lot that people still care."

Deputy Phillips was 56 years old when he died.  He left behind a wife and son, as well as grandchildren.

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