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Fallen game warden honored 75 years later

Charles Masoner died 75 years ago before he was properly honored. (Source KSWO) Charles Masoner died 75 years ago before he was properly honored. (Source KSWO)
(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)
(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

CACHE, OK (KSWO) -Game wardens from across the state came to Southwest Oklahoma to pay their respects to a fellow officer, 75 years after his death.

A ceremony for Charles Masoner was held at the cemetery in Cache Tuesday. He was born in Cache and served in World War I, but at the time of his death in 1941 at the age of 50, he was working as a game warden in Minnesota.

He and other workers had moved 80-pound hay bales through thick snow in order to prevent the loss of deer in the harsh winter months when he suffered a fatal heart attack. Tuesday, they finally gave Masoner the recognition he deserved.

Michael Scott, a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation officer, says when Masoner died, they didn't know he died in the line of duty, so he was never put on the National Law Enforcement Association's honor roll list, until now.

Masoner's sister had mentioned her brother's name to a game warden last summer in Minnesota. He did some research and found out Masoner never received the honor he deserved.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife was humbled when they received a call from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources asking to help honor the life of a fellow officer and an Oklahoma native.

"We're all a brotherhood, and we may live in different areas, we may wear different uniforms, but we all do the same job and we all care for each other and this is a fallen brother to us," said Lt. James Edwards Jr., Oklahoma Department of Wildlife.

Officers placed a wreath on Masoner’s grave and stood watch over the site for 20 minutes, but Lt. Edwards says he wishes he could do more for his fallen brother.

"For this man to not be honored for 75 years, not sure there's a way you can make up for it, but we're doing the best we can," he said.

Lt. Edwards says it was a bit of a challenge to locate Masoner's grave. He and the president of the Cache Cemetery Association, John Webb, searched more than 1,000 tombstones.

"We definitely wanted to make sure we got it located, got the right spot, and it's just kind of amazing," Webb said.

With National Law Enforcement Week coming up, Webb says this was the perfect time to recognize Masoner's 19 years of service.

"I'm glad that they did this and that this man finally gets that recognition he deserved 75 years ago," Webb said.

Officer Charles Masoner will also be honored on Sunday in Minnesota where he worked and in Washington where his name will be added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial.

Copyright 2016 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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