Folks gathered outside the South Bend Police Department Saturday for the 5th Annual Fallen Officer Scholarship Ride.
It was an event to honor one of their own who was killed in the line of duty, Corporal Thomas DeRue Senior.
“He was a good officer. Everybody I talked to said he was one of those guys that could make you laugh, he laughed all the time, he loved a practical good joke,” says Sgt. Tom Cameron.
More than 100 people rode for about an hour through the Northwest part of St. Joseph County before arriving at Riverview Cemetery where many learned about DeRue for the first time.
“November 14, 1974, Thomas J. DeRue was killed in South Bend,” adds Cameron.
Records show DeRue was working the day shift when a call came in about a robbery in progress at 100 West Colfax in South Bend.
DeRue arrived at the scene, parked in the alley right when the robber was coming out.
“All they heard Tom DeRue say was, 'Mayday, mayday, I have been shot',” says Cameron, “If Tom DeRue had had a bullet proof vest that day, he would be with us today. The shots were to his chest”.
“I was working in County City Building, up on the 14th floor and one of the gals came up and said, ‘there was a policeman killed’ and I just knew it was Tom. I just had that feeling that it was Tom,” says Patti DeRue-Nemeth.
But Saturday’s event was a way for many to honor and remember a man whose sacrifice will never be forgotten.
“It was phenomenal. I mean, there was just many, many people that never knew Tom or anything and they turn out every year and it’s not only today and not only to honor Tom, but every year there are just a ton of motorcycles that turn up to honor him,” adds DeRue-Nemeth.
After everyone paid their respects they hopped right back on their bikes and continued around the county.
They made a stop at the South Lawn Cemetery, where other fallen officers are buried, before heading off to the Corn and Sausage Roast.