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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Area man recognized as 'Honorary Trooper'

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

David G. Duty of Diehlstadt and Missouir State Highway Patrol Trooper Ron Eakins
SIKESTON -- For David G. Duty of Diehlstadt, the coffee will always be free at the Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop E satellite in Sikeston.

Last November, Duty rose to the call of civilian duty when a Highway Patrol officer was in need of assistance near Duty's home. And on Tuesday, Duty was recognized for his bravery with the prestigious "Honorary Trooper" award.

It all began around 12:40 a.m. Nov. 5 as Trooper Ron Eakins was attempting to arrest a suspect under the influence of methamphetamines, amphetamines, marijuana, opiates and barbiturates on Bridges Street near Swank Street in Diehlstadt for four felony and seven misdemeanor offenses.

"I had stopped the suspect for a traffic violation and the struggle started in the car. Then we both fell out of the passenger door and continued to struggle," Eakins explained.

Duty was backing his vehicle out of his driveway when he noticed the commotion across the street.

"I saw Trooper Eakins scuffling with the suspect," Duty recalled. "And to be truthful, I'm a little nosy so I got a little closer. I asked Trooper Eakins if he needed some help, and he did."

The suspect continued to struggle for another minute or so before Eakins and Duty were able to subdue and handcuff him.

During the struggle, Eakins injured his right hand and was taken to Missouri Delta Medical Center Sikeston, where he was treated and released.

"Due to Mr. Duty stopping and rendering assistance, the suspect was arrested without serious injury to Eakins or the suspect," noted Capt. George Ridens. "Mr. Duty did not hesitate and put his own life in danger to assist Eakins in the arrest of the suspect. He unselfishly, acted in an exemplary manner and under dangerous conditions, to assist Trooper Eakins."

With the suspect being under the influence, it always makes the situation more difficult, Sgt. Larry Plunkett Jr. of the Patrol pointed out. Anytime a trooper is involved in a struggle, danger is always a possibility because at least one person is carrying a gun, he said.

Following the incident, Eakins recommended Duty for the "Honorary Trooper" award.

"I'm just flattered. I'm speechless over the award," Duty said. "I don't feel I did anything anyone else shouldn't have or wouldn't have done in my position."

The "Honorary Trooper" certificate is the most prestigious award that can be given to a civilian by the Patrol, Plunkett said.

"We just want to express our thanks because the public is not expected to help our officers, the officers are expected to help the public -- but we are human, and sometimes we do need help," Plunkett said.

Ridens said this is only the third time Troop E has awarded "Honorary Trooper" to someone over the past 61/2 years. The other two recipients were for lifetime assistance to the Patrol, not for one incident, he said.

"It makes us feel good to know we still have the public's support," Plunkett said. "With this job, we see the bad of everybody, and it does make you feel good to know the community is still behind you."

But it was helping Eakins that was Duty's biggest reward, he said.

"And this," Duty said as he clinched his award, "is going on the wall, right next to my marriage license."