Sheriff’s deputy awarded Medal of Valor

Bohman cast risk to self aside to save fellow deputy

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

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ROCKINGHAM — On Sept. 15, 2008, a group of individuals used a home in the 200 block of Rummage Pack House Road near Ellerbe as a place to break the law.

Men used a press to make bricks of cocaine. The intent, authorities said, was to ensure that cocaine went into the pipeline of of hard drugs that have helped curtail nothing short of the American Dream.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Former Richmond County Sheriff Dale Furr, left, presents Deputy Travis Bowman with the Public Safety Office Medal of Valor for actions taken on Sept. 15, 2008, in the saving of fellow Deputy Robert Smith.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Former Richmond County Sheriff Dale Furr, left, presents Deputy Travis Bohman with the Public Safety Office Medal of Valor for actions taken on Sept. 15, 2008, in the saving of fellow Deputy Robert Smith.

Robert Smith was on the Special Response Team with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. He was part of a team of specially trained deputies and agents with the State Bureau of Investigation set on taking down the illegal cocaine operation.

Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. told those who attended the annual Peace Officers Memorial Day Observance in front of the former Richmond County Court House that Smith was shot during the effort to take into custody the men responsible.

“Robert Smith became disoriented,” Clemmons said, and stumbled into open territory — and in the field of fire. He was struck by a bullet.

“Officer down,” said former Richmond County Sheriff Dale B. Furr, the phrase being “a resounding thing that just makes time stop. It’s one of your people.”

There was a man to help. Deputy Travis Bohman had been tucked away safely in the wood line and had provided cover fire for agents and deputies while they advanced on the home. He’d been in position for some time as he relayed information about the individuals in the home to fellow law enforcement officers over an extended period of time.

But with Smith down, Bohman thought — actually, he probably didn’t think. If he had taken the time to have a thought, he might have thought better of running into the open field and facing the possibly of being shot. Instead of thinking, Bowman quickly moved forward and covered an estimated 200 yards of open territory to reach Smith “to half drag, half carry Robert Smith approximately 100 yards” to safety.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Bohman was honored on Friday as Furr, 16 years the Richmond County sheriff, presented him with the Public Safety Office Medal of Valor for his heroic life-saving actions of a fellow law enforcement officer. Furr retired from the position in 2010 after 40 years in law enforcement. He said Friday that “the biggest fear that I had … was that one of the people that was working for me would be killed or seriously hurt.”

Inscribed in the back of the medal: “For extraordinary valor above and beyond the call of duty.”

Furr said some deputies didn’t escape injury during his tenure but he expressed gratefulness that no one was killed and that, despite much difficulty, Smith made it home from his shift.

That’s not always the case. Officers go to work each day, said Rockingham Police Department Chief Billy Kelly, knowing “we may not come back.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

It’s a risk law enforcement officers are willing to take to protect and serve, Kelly said, but that “protection comes at a price,” often no more directly than the officers and their family members who deal with the aftermath of an operation — or something as simple as a traffic stop — gone wrong.

Clemmons called out the name of the Richmond County law enforcement officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty as a deputy rang the the historic 1890 court house bell, one per fallen officer.

Approximately 70 people attended the event, primarily representatives of local law enforcement agencies, their family members and elected and appointed local, county and state officials.

Filed in: Ellerbe/Norman, Featured News, Hamlet, Latest Headlines, News, Public safety, Religion, Rockingham

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