An excerpt from the book, “Some Gave All,” coming soon on Amazon
By Mike Simmons
On June 1, 1989, Trooper Milan Hendrix was working in the Cantonment area, along Highway 29, north of Pensacola in Escambia County, Florida. It wasn’t long before a car passed Milan and headed south at a fast clip. He was speeding, and it would take some doing to catch him. Milan started out after him.
Champion Paper Company was, and is, very community-oriented. One problem they had was the traffic issue that their trucks caused as they entered Highway 29, especially headed northbound. The trucks had to stretch across the southbound traffic in order to enter the northbound lane. It caused a dangerous situation. At night, if the truck is pulling out into the road, none of its lights are visible. So, in essence, it becomes a huge, black, steel barrier that stretches across the southbound lanes.
Milan never saw it. His prey likely never saw it either. As he was in pursuit, an empty tractor-trailer log truck pulled out onto Highway 29 to head north toward the town of Century. The driver pulled out but didn’t see the Trooper’s cruiser headed south. The car went under the trailer, killing Milan.
There was an outpouring of love and support from the community. Many people wanted to blame the driver, but all acknowledged that it was a bad intersection. A lobby began to look at ways to make it safer, including a traffic light. That idea gained traction and a traffic light is working at that intersection still today.
Milan was the first trooper killed in the line of duty in the Florida Panhandle – ever. His funeral took place on June 5, 1989, at the Gateway Church of Christ. Over 300 troopers, deputies, and police officers attended, dressed in their dress uniforms, complete with hats. The troopers, of course, wore their iconic campaign hats, or, as some people refer to them, their “trooper hats.” 1000 people crowded into the beautiful sanctuary to hear the brief sermons by Fred Tate and Ronald Nunn.
On January 15, 1993, the Florida Highway Patrol held a building dedication for their new communications building on Stumpfield Road. Then, on July 18, 2019, the Pensacola News Journal reported that a portion of Highway 29 from Neal Road to Nine Mile Road was being designated “Trooper Milan Hendrix Memorial Highway. Fitting.
He loved what he did. He had been there nine years and, although it was a dangerous job, Milan loved it. And to die doing what you love is the way to go out.