HOONAH - Hundreds of people lined the deck of the Hoonah Ferry Terminal on Wednesday, waiting for the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry Malaspina to bring the remains of Anthony Wallace and Matthew Tokuoka to this small Tlingit community.
Hundreds more waited at the terminal gates, and still hundreds more lined the streets and waited inside the Hoonah Junior/Senior High School gymnasium as the families of the two Hoonah police officers and accompanying law enforcement personnel arrived, along with the urns.
A law enforcement color guard posted the colors, signaling the beginning of the memorial service for Wallace and Tokuoka, the officers who were shot Aug. 28 and died Aug. 29. John Marvin Jr. is charged with the murder of both men.
"Through media coverage and word of mouth over the last 10 days, I have gotten to know of Matthew and Tony," Gov. Sean Parnell said as he spoke to a standing-room-only crowd. "They were sons and fathers, men who loved their families ... men who put others first, men who balanced strength and authority with respect and compassion ... Tony was a loving son and a proud father, (and) despite his hearing challenges he was one of the best officers and men (I) ever met, he never let a challenge keep him from realizing a dream, he worked hard and earned everything that came his way."
Parnell's voice cracked as he continued, "We know that Matt was the best kind of friend. Scriptures tell us that 'greater love has no man that he lay down his life for a friend.' We are honored to have law enforcement officers of this character serving in this state."
Parnell also thanked the community and residents of Hoonah, "I have a profound amount of respect and care for you. We all understand that it is hard to have this kind of attention drawn to your town. ... But I want you to know how proud we are of you as well, for your kindness and compassion ... but inside we know we need something more, something more than any friends, neighbors, or any family member can supply. We need a love that is everlasting. We hope that we will see Matt and Tony again. ... It is our challenge in Hoonah and everywhere else in this great land to love and to serve each other, our communities to love and serve our families, for Matt and Tony ... God bless them."
Department of Public Safety Commissioner Joseph Masters spoke after Parnell.
"Tony and Matt were warriors," he said. "They wanted to protect their country, their home, they were one of us. ... On behalf of all law enforcement, thank you for sharing Tony and Matt with us. We are better because of it."
Hoonah Police Chief John Millan spoke of the two officers and their affinity for pranks, their love for Hoonah, and their devotion to both family and their duties as law enforcement personnel.
"I was more a friend and a colleague of these two men than just being a boss," Millan said. "No poet, philosopher, or Ph.D. can predict the words that adequately sum of the lives of these two men ... I think of the phrase, 'a police officer died today, and a piece of America died with him.' That is so true ... The word 'hero' will be a recurring theme throughout this eulogy ... Matt and Tony are two men who didn't get into this line of work for medals, money, praise or fame. They simply wanted to serve their fellow citizens. ... This is not about how these brave men died, but how they lived."
Millan closed by saying "Semper Fi" for Matt, who served in the Marine Corps before becoming a policeman. He then signed "I miss you, my friend," for Tony, the hearing-disabled former All-American wrestler at the Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology.
Hoonah Mayor Windy Skaflestad, in a weary voice, proclaimed Wednesday, Sept. 8th would now officially be known as Officer Matthew Tokuoka and Sergeant Anthony Wallace Memorial Day.
Haley Tokuoka spoke of her husband's turn as Santa Claus for son George Jr., 6, and how daughter Layla, 2, would call Wallace "Mac Mac."
Lexis Wallace, Anthony's daughter, took the microphone, but her emotions overcame her before she cold say anything.
Many Hoonah residents would offer their own recollections of the two policemen that shaped their town.
A slide show of photos were shown on the gymnasium wall as bagpipers played and most in attendance cried.
The final slide flashed the words: "Officer Matthew Tokuoka, Sergeant Anthony Wallace, Hoonah Police Department, Alaska, End of Watch: Sunday, August 29th 2010."
Contact Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at email@example.com.
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