Merlin, Ore. — A memorial honoring a fallen Josephine County Marine Deputy has been restored.
It’s been more than a year since the memorial for Deputy Tom Rice was vandalized.
Today the memorial was re-dedicated.
“It’s important that we honor him. It’s important that we remember him,” Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel said.
Ten minutes from the Robertson Bridge boat ramp into the heart of the Hellgate Canyon, you’ll find a memorial plaque of Deputy Tom Rice.
“He was really liked by all and I think he had a lot of compassion for the job and for helping people and that’s definitely a quality that we look for nowadays in people but when you find it in a guy like that it’s just so rare,” Sheriff Dave Daniel said.
Deputy Tom Rice was killed in the line of duty 15 years ago in a helicopter crash while working on a search and rescue mission.
A memorial was placed in his name at the OK Corral.
It served to honor him until last summer when someone defaced it.
“There was a swastika etched into it… and that’s just completely unacceptable,” Sheriff Dave Daniel said.
But Grants Pass company Recognition Specialties volunteered to repair and replace it for free.
“The sheriff’s department… the police officers… ya know they do so much for us everyday so we try to give… if this is all we can do… I mean I hope in the future we can do more for them but this was the least we could do for them,” Tyler Cook with Recognition Specialties said.
Now, on the anniversary of his death, Deputy Rice is back where he belongs for everyone to see.
“What a great place for Tom to be remembered. In a beautiful setting… right on the river,” Sheriff Dave Daniel said.
Sheriff Dave Daniel says it’s a proud day for the community as Deputy Rice is remembered as someone who paid the ultimate price for doing his job.
“It’s an important day. And uh… Tom’s watching,” Sheriff Dave Daniel said.
Sheriff Dave Daniel hopes the memory of Deputy Tom Rice will live on the Rogue River forever.