The first memorial took place in 1994, one year after the Lucasville prison riots that gained national news attention and left 10 dead - including one guard, Robert Vallandingham.
“It's good to remember people who have given all to the community, and we need to keep people aware of their sacrifice,” said Scioto County Commissioner Mike Crabtree.
During the ceremony, those in attendance were led in prayer by SOCF Chaplains Donald York and Kevin Littler, and the SOCF Honor Guard lowered the flags to half-staff and placed flowers on the monument that stands on the front lawn.
Their guns fired a 21-gun salute, followed by the distant duet of trumpets softly singing “Amazing Grace.”
Those honored were Arthur Sprouse and Gary Underwood, both killed July 24, 1973; Eric Bowling, killed Feb. 2, 1984; Beverly Shoemaker-Taylor, killed June 7, 1990; and Robert Vallandingham, killed April 11, 1993.
“All too often, some of us forget, and this is to remember those who paid the ultimate price, and guards here at SOCF are fellow brothers in law enforcement. It's really a somber occasion,” said Scioto County Sheriff Marty Donini.
This is SOCF Warden Ed Voorhies' third memorial ceremony since accepting the office.
“You've got representatives here from a majority of the institutions from across the state, and we have a commitment to never forget those staff members who have paid the ultimate price,” Voorhies said. “I think it's paying proper respect to such an awesome service.”
Among the representatives from other institutions in attendance was Joe Mullholland of Marion Correctional Institution. Mullholland said this was the first time he's been back to SOCF since the riot, when he was sent in to help control the situation.
“I wanted to come and honor fellow officers, and fallen officers,” he said.
Darrold Clark was an SOCF guard taken hostage during the time of the Lucasville riot. He came out to support all who had been killed in the facility.
“It goes to show you where their loyalties are to one another,” Clark said. “The memory will last forever.”
In his speech, guest speaker Ronald Alexander, president of Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA-AFSCME Local 11), referred to a recently debuted stage play called “Lucasville,” retelling the story of the riot through the eyes of the inmates. He called the playwrights, actors and lawyers “vultures” who wish to twist the facts about the Lucasville riot.
“There are some playwrights out there who are trying to put their spin on the riot. We're just trying to put this down. We're going to not respond to it, I guess, would be the best way not to give it any play,” Alexander said.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235.