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Fallen Heroes Details

In Memory Of
Michael Davis
Riverside County Sheriffs Department, CA
End of watch: 1988-10-24
Aircraft: Bell UH1
Five sheriff's deputies from Southern California and three National Guardsmen were killed when the helicopter they were flying in a joint drug interdiction mission snagged on a power line and exploded into a hillside in western Imperial County.

The accident occurred Monday, Oct. 24, about 9:30 p.m., approximately 63 miles east of San Diego on what was described as a training flight on the first night of an unpublicized anti-drug surveillance program called Operation Border Ranger. The National Guard UH-1H Huey helicopter crashed when it tried to make a pass through an isolated canyon to close in on a parked car thought to belong to drug smugglers, a National Guard spokesman stated.

Killed in the crash were five deputies from a consortium of six Southern California sheriff's departments that sponsored Operation Border Ranger, an anti-drug smuggling program that was quietly organized earlier this year. The three dead guardsmen were stationed with the 140th Aviation Unit at the Los Alamitos Armed Forces Reserve Center in Orange County.

The dead deputies were identified as Investigator Michael David Davis, 34, Indio, a nine-year veteran Riverside County deputy; James D. McSweeney, 43, of Huntington Beach, and Roy A. Chester, 41, of La Verne, both 12-year Los Angeles County Sheriff's veterans; Sgt. Richard G. Romero, 39, El Centro, a 14-year veteran in Imperial County; and Mark Steven Tonkin, 31, Chino, a seven-year member of the Orange County Sheriff's Department. San Diego and San Bernardino County Sheriff's Departments, the other participants in the program, had no one on board.

The deputies who died were all experienced narcotics officers.

Davis was awarded the Medal of Valor in 1987 for the rescue of a fellow officer from a brush fire. His wife, Sandy, and four children, ranging in age from 9 to 17 survive him.

Thoughts and Memories of Michael Davis

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