End of Watch: May 4, 2004
From the book, “Some Gave All,” coming soon on Amazon
After fighting in Vietnam as a US Marine, George Hura decided to return home as a civilian. In Pensacola in 1976, he sought employment nearby and landed a job as a corrections officer at the Escambia County Jail. Two years later, he joined the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department and became a deputy, following in his father’s footsteps.
Most people endure their job. Some like it, others hate it. But George LOVED it. He found that it fit his personality. He liked to meet people and his personality made him a favorite, both on the street and in the sheriff’s office. He also found that the job fulfilled him like his service in the Marines did. It felt right doing and enforcing the right thing for the right reason.
On March 2, 1982, George, now a motorcycle deputy riding a Harley, was patrolling on the west side of town. Escambia County had been plagued recently by bank robberies. Another one occurred within a few miles of his location. Within a few minutes, he saw a car that fit the description. He wasn’t sure, but it was worth checking out. He radioed his position and was content to wait for backup. As long as the guy didn’t arrive at his destination before backup arrived, George was good.
But when the driver pulled up to his trailer after a few minutes. George thought to himself, “I’ve got no other choice. I have to take this guy myself.” With his professional approach and his gift of making people feel comfortable around him, the charismatic deputy took the guy into custody without incident. And…yes, it was the guy! He later gave a full confession to committing two bank robberies.
Whether his excellent police work did it or not, five months later, his promotion to corporal was announced. He was assigned to the Investigations unit. He learned a lot. He was directly involved in all major crimes in Escambia County, taking the lead on many of them. Soon, he was promoted to sergeant of Investigations.
Before long, on March 15, 1989, the new sheriff, Charlie Johnson, chose George to address a problem area in the county – Pensacola Beach. No doubt the sheriff realized George’s gift for communication and relied on him to appease the elite residents of the beach. Of course, George did. He became the authority at the beach. He handled emergencies, press releases, special events, and the citizens, seemingly with ease.
In 2001, he was again promoted and given the opportunity to return to his first love – motorcycles. He chose to run his unit from his Harley. Not only did he love it, but his officers did too! It wasn’t long before he created a tight-knit group.
Department training – everyone has to do it. It keeps an officer up on the latest changes in law, procedure and tactics. Most officers make the best of it and enjoy the camaraderie. George and his officers were no different. That is what they were participating in on May 4, 2004 – department training. Even though the officers don’t usually go 100% in practicing their drills, it is quite an effort. That afternoon, at 1:30 PM, the officers were simulating firearms encounters. They had been at it pretty hard. They were tired, breathing heavy, and sweating.
George suddenly grabbed his chest and collapsed. The deputies around him called for an ambulance and began working on him as hard as they could. No good. He died at the hospital later that day.
The Oak Lawn Funeral Home was flooded with cars and visitors. The service began at 9:30 AM. Reverend Larry White was the pastor of Warrington Baptist Church, and he had the honor of giving the eulogy. As he was describing George and his easy way about him, each family member, friend and deputy could feel what he was saying.
The burial was at Barrancas National Cemetery with full military honors. The flag was presented to Mona by Sheriff Ron McNesby.
One thing is for sure…George Hura made his mark.
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