The Tulsa World, Saturday, May 27, 1978

Slain Troopers Take Last Trip Home

By David Averill

OKLAHOMA CITY – A trooper squatted beneath the clatter of the helicopter propeller with his arm across the white sheet-covered stretcher, as if to guard the body of his fallen comrade.

A hundred yards away two others, with their campaign hats cocked forward on their heads and their hands in their pockets, rocked back and forth on their heels, helpless, as they guarded the gate that leads to the helipad behind the governor's mansion.

A block away, in front of the state Capitol Building, the flag, newly lowered to half staff, rippled in the wind.

Two miles away at patrol headquarters hang plaques honoring men killed in the line of duty as Oklahoma Highway Patrolmen.

The helicopters behind the governor's mansion bore the bodies of the men whose faces and names will appear on the 14th, 15th and 16th plaques.

Pat Grimes, 36, Moore, Billy G. Young, 50, Woodward, and Houston Summers, 62, Enid, were gunned down by two McAlester penitentiary escapees who terrorized a multi-state area for a month and who in turn died in a hail of law officers' bullets.

Ironically, the gray skies that had threatened rain throughout the day cleared and the sun shone as the helicopters arrived behind the governor's mansion about 2:20 p.m. Friday. One had taken off from Durant with the three bodies and one would carry two of them on their final journeys to Enid and Woodward.

Hard-hatted groundskeepers paused and leaned on their rakes and shovels to watch the silent drama. A small group of news reporters and photographers were kept by a high chain-link fence and the length of a football field from prying at close hand into the scene.

Firemen, who routinely are called to be on hand during helicopter landings, stood quietly beside their trucks and watched along with the other spectators as, one after another, the sheet-covered stretchers were removed and transferred .

A television crewman screamed instructions into a walkie-talkie. A few cars slowed down as drivers tried to see what had attracted the TV crews.

In a few minutes it was over. First the Army helicopter and then the others lifted from the concrete pad, propellers whirring.

A plainclothesman in shirtsleeves accompanied the body in the hearse. In the patrol car following the hearse the grim-faced driver gripped the steering wheel. Beside him a fellow trooper sat with a clenched fist pressed against his mouth.

As the little caravan wheeled away down Northeast 323rd Street another spectator, this one a Capitol policeman who had paused outside the gate in his car, leaned with his elbow out the window and spoke to the reporters.

"Gentlemen," he said. "this has got to be the saddest day in the history of Oklahoma."