“Elizabeth, his widow, along with daughter Samantha and son Travis, accepted awards from DI and INL in recognition of Willard’s service and sacrifice,” according to a press release from DynCorp International.
Willard was 44 years old when he was killed in Afghanistan by a suicide bomber, according to the American Embassy.
“A suicide-bomber rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into the police training center in the southern city of Kandahar,” said the embassy.
Members of law enforcement, along with representatives from DynCorp International (DI), the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), attended the memorial in Calhoun to honor Willard.
Defense of Freedom
Additionally, Willard is one on a long list of fallen International Police Agents (IPA) eligible for the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom.
The commendation has not been given to any IPAs killed in action to date, including Willard.
“He and the other police officers wounded or killed are eligible for the Defense of Freedom Medal, the civilian equivalent of the Purple Heart, and many of the wounded have been able to navigate the often onerous process to have themselves nominated. However, that process is very difficult for the families of those who are killed and so far not one Defense of Freedom medal has been awarded to someone killed in action,” according to a press release from U.S. Senator Ron Wyden.
However, eight senators of the United States Congress have made it their goal to have Willard and other IPAs recognized.
They have signed a written request to the Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, for the easement of the process for medal commendations for those killed in action.
Senators from Oregon, Main, Minnesota, Connecticut and South Dakota all signed a request to the Secretary of Defense, the Honorable Leon Panetta, to consider easing the process for families of fallen IPA’s, to be awarded a medal of commendation.
According to the letter, the rotation of stations overseas and the large amount of paperwork families have to complete, makes the process so difficult, no IPAs killed in action have been honored with this award yet.
The Civilian Police Officer Alumni Association (CAA), an organization fighting for fallen IPAs to be recognized, has called upon members of Congress to help with the multi-year pursuit to honor their fallen comrades.
The CAA, in conjunction with members of Congress, has sent a list of IPAs killed in the line of duty along with their request for lightening the system of medal accreditation.
Willard, a Calhoun local, served with the Calhoun City Police Department from 2001 to 2008, where he was promoted to Sergeant in 2005.
According to DYN news, Willard began working for DynCorp in 2009, when he was deployed overseas under DynCorp International’s Afghan police training contract, said the article.
The letter was sent to the Secretary of Defense March 1, 2012, but to date, no progress forward has been made.
Citizens are encouraged to contact their local senators and share any support to help bring this recognition to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Currently there is no update on the progression of the legislation, according to a response from Tom Caiazza, Press Secretary for Senator Wyden.