A section of Interstate 5 in Southern California today is being named in honor of four California Highway Patrol officers who were killed in April 1970 in the line of duty, including two officers from Merced County.
A dedication ceremony at 10 this morning names a mile-long section of I-5 between Highway 126 and Magic Mountain Parkway after James E. Pence Jr., Roger D. Gore, Walter C. Frago and George M. Alleyn.
Frago and Gore came from Merced and Snelling area respectively. Friends since their school days, they joined the CHP together in August 1968 and died April 6, 1970, when two men fired more than 100 rounds at their patrol car and that of Alleyn and Pence. The officers were killed within an interval of just over four minutes.
Frago's mother, Rose Frago, of Merced, plans to be at the ceremony. She expects the dedication to be very emotional but the family feels honored after so many years.
"It (ceremony) brings back everything," Frago said. "There will be a lot of our family there. It (the officers' deaths) was just a tragic thing that happened."
Being a highway patrolman was what her son wanted to do, she said, and he was doing what he was supposed to do when he was cut down that April morning.
Officer Shane Ferriera, spokesman for the Merced Area CHP office, said 70 to 80 from all four officers' families are expected to be at the dedication, some coming from Washington and Texas.
Gore, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Max Gore, of Snelling, was 23, and Frago was 24 when they were killed. Frago, the son of Mr. and Mrs. A.L. "Gus" Frago, was survived by his widow, Nicola and two daughters, Amorette and Gabrielle. Gore and his widow, Valrie, had an 18-month-old daughter, Elyse.
Frago graduated from Our Lady of Mercy High School and Merced College; Gore graduated from Merced High School and was a bus driver for the Merced Union High School District before entering the CHP academy.
The dedication takes place at the Caltrans North Region office at 28820 N. Old Road in Valencia. CHP public information officer John Lutz paid tribute to the fallen officers.
"Although their memories evoke great sorrow with family, friends and co-workers, their ultimate sacrifice has nonetheless influenced law enforcement worldwide," Lutz said. "A renewed focus on officer safety, comprehensive training and revamped procedures have provided all law enforcement agencies with the wisdom to prepare for the inherent danger facing today's officer."
Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2485 or firstname.lastname@example.org.