The Pennsylvania State Police have long been an elite crime-fighting force in the law enforcement community.

Just as there are monuments for heroism to honor soldiers who exhibit valor on the battlefield, the Pennsylvania State Police has a Memorial Wall to honor those who sacrificed in the line of duty.

We honor those members of the PSP who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Two of the more recent to give their lives in the line of duty were Berks County Sheriff's Deputy Kyle Pagerly who died last summer in a Berks County shootout, and Trooper Joshua D. Miller of Troop N in Swiftwater who was killed three years ago in a gunbattle with a suspect, after a 40-mile pursuit through Northampton and Monroe counties. The vehicle was brought to a stop in Coolbaugh Township, Monroe County, where Miller died in the gunbattle.

Just as our military has the Congressional Medal of Honor to honor those for their individual heroism, the state police have a similar medal that carries the same name. Since the award was created in 1970, state police have presented 58 Medals of Honor.

The most recent recipients were honored during an awards ceremony at the State Police Academy in Hershey last Friday. They were Sgt. Adam R. Kosheba, from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation in Dauphin County, and Cpl. Brad J. Eisenhower, of Troop F, Montoursville, Lycoming County.

Last June 30, Kosheba and Sheriff's Deputy Pagerly were part of a federal and state police task force trying to serve an arrest warrant on Matthew Connor for burglary, firearms and assault charges. Connor had fired a weapon during a domestic dispute and fled toward a family cabin in an isolated wooded area near the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.

As police approached, Connor opened fire with an AK-47 rifle and several rounds struck Pagerly. Kosheba returned fire, killing Connor, then immediately turned his attention to the fallen trooper. Kosheba's continued attempts to save Pagerly were unsuccessful, and he was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said Kosheba's selfless and courageous actions "undoubtedly saved the lives of other task force members who were ambushed by this dangerous fugitive."

Each member of the Pennsylvania State Police is governed by a Call of Honor.

It states: "I am a Pennsylvania State Trooper, a Soldier of the Law. To me is entrusted the Honor of the Force. I must serve honestly, faithfully and, if need be, lay down my life as others have done before me, rather than swerve from the path of duty. It is my duty to obey the law and to enforce it without any consideration of class, color, creed, or condition. It is also my duty to be of service to anyone who may be in danger or distress and, at all times, so conduct myself that the Honor of the Force may be upheld."

In presenting the Medal of Honor awards to the two troopers last week, Commissioner Noonan said "Their performance was in the best traditions of the Pennsylvania State Police."

These incredible examples of selfless duty and sacrifice bind troopers into a closely-knit fraternity, making them an outstanding model for law enforcement agencies in this nation and throughout the world.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com