Friday, June 22, 2007

Officer Marty Henry

Marty Henry is a 32 year veteran of the Syracuse Police Department. He came on about a year or so behind me. We worked the south side together for a while back in the late 70's. Marty is a huge man, 6'5" and almost 300 pounds. And he is a gentle soul. For the last ten years Marty worked in the Personnel Division.

Yesterday morning a special ceremony was held in his honor outside St. Joseph's Hospital. The event was captured in this morning's Post Standard.

Hundreds attend "Signal 94" ceremony for Marty Henry, a cancer patient.

A line of Syracuse police officers stood at attention Thursday morning in a courtyard and saluted toward a hospital room containing one of their own.

Ten cars with lights flashing were in front of them. Behind them were more than 200 people, some in uniform, some in hospital scrubs, some in civilian clothes.

The parking garage and the skywalk that connects it to St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center were lined with people at 9 a.m. All were quiet.

Officer Marty Henry, a man Sgt. Tom Connellan called "the most beloved police officer on the force," was unseen behind a tinted window receiving his "Signal 94," a ceremony marking the end of his last shift on duty.

Henry, 56, an officer with the force since 1975, is being treated at the hospital. He has cancer, his family said.

The officers in the courtyard held the salute for almost 10 minutes. The cadets in the police academy saluted in their sweats. Tears moved down more than one cheek.

"God bless our friend. You're a fine example for all of us to follow," Deputy Chief Michael Kerwin said before the 911 center made the radio broadcast marking Henry's end of service.

Henry last served in the chief's office but was more known for his work in the personnel department. "Anyone hired (by the Police Department) in the last 10 years went through Marty to get here," Connellan said. When you came on the job, he gave you your badge. When you retired, he took it back," Deputy Chief Dave Barrette said.

He was also the man who planned Signal 94 ceremonies for retiring officers, Barrette said.

"Marty took sick a week after putting in his retirement papers," Barrette said.
He was supposed to retire in May but decided not to when he learned of his illness, Barrette said.

During his career, Henry had a couple of brushes with death. He almost died in the summer of 1981 when he was stabbed as he was going through a door, Barrette said.

Henry also was forced off Interstate 481 in 1999 whnen his vehicle was rammed from behind by a speeding sport utility vehicle. Henry went across the median and through oncoming traffic before hitting a tree, records state. His sons, Tom and Chris, were in the room with him. Tom works for Google in California, and Chris is in the Washington, D.C., police academy.

"He was shocked," Tom Henry said. "I don't think he realized the impact the ceremony would have."

The numbers of people that Henry had touched moved everyone in the room, he said.

After the service, as the police cars pulled away, police Chief Gary Miguel told officers that Henry was moved.

"He saw the whole thing and so did his family," an emotional Miguel said.

"I said, 'Marty, how many people do you think are out there?' " Miguel told officers.

"He said, 'A lot.'

I said, 'They're all here for you.' "

Marty is very close to death now. Say a prayer for his family. We're all going to miss him.

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