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Fallen police officers, firefighters remembered at Blue Mass

PHOENIX -- Arizona police and firefighters who died in the past year were honored Thursday morning at a Blue Mass at St. Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix.

The names of all of those who died were read, including those of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters who were killed battling the Yarnell Hill fire. Daryl Michael Raetz was one of the names that was read.

"Officer Daryl Raites was a Phoenix Police officer who proudly served in the Maryvale Precinct. He gave his life in the line of duty on May 19, 2013," said Phoenix Police Commander Michael Kirtenbach, who read Raites' name during ceremony.

Raetz, 29, was was struck and killed in a hit-and-run accident. Jesus Cabrera Molina, 24, was charged with manslaughter in his death.

An honor guard with bagpipes was part of the ceremony. Phoenix Deputy Fire Chief Chris Ketterer said the annual mass is always meaningful to him, especially when he starts hearing those bagpipes.

"When I hear the pipes and drums, I'm really moved," he said. "It sort of takes me to a special place where I can focus on the people that make the department special. Those are the people that have given, forgive the term, the ultimate sacrifice."

During the service, Bishop Thomas Olmstead, head of the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, prayed for Arizona officers and firefighters, asking God to "Keep danger far away from them."

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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