Commentary - Where do we find men like Brian Ishmael?

by Placerville Newswire / Nov 02, 2019 / comments

<Cris Alarcon, 9-27>

"Where do we find men like Brian Ishmael?" my stalwart friend asked me on the way home from the Press Conference at the Sheriff's Office regarding Deputy Brian Ishmael’s death in the Line of Duty at the age of 37. He responded first at a fight between two people.  He died for less than $15,000!

The Press Conference was announcing that the charity “Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation” would take over the mortgage payments for the slain deputy’s wife and children.

"Where do we find men like Brian Ishmael"  asks Rick G.

Herbert Green School?  Brian, Don, many of our friends, and I all went to Herbert Green school many years ago.  Herbert Green School was not the answer. So I did not understand his question. I was a bit confused.   

"Where do we find men like Brian Ishmael?"

I do know Rick well and I know that when he uses the term "men" his is not talking of gender, but of intestinal fortitude.  He is a war Veteran, a Retired Cop, and effectively my adopted father. He already has several sons of his own but nearly 20 years ago he took me under his wing and has treated me like a son.  Rick is an old, crusty, Private Investigator these days.  

He has kevlar, a permit, and the will to fire if needed.  I have worked many cases with him over the years from Asset protection in Sac, to forged notarized names of Vietinese citizens living in Sacramento. Requireing working with others in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  Most recently investigating a “death (no body found)” insurance fraud case when I found an image of the very much “Live” missing person. Found in Germany, at an open air market - all by using “Friends” of “Friends” on Facebook as I sat at home. Rick packs the “heater” and knows the old-school cop work like writing the “Narrative” and following leads. I do the Tech.  When I need backup, I call Rick.

This day I needed backup… because the death of our hometown deputy had shaken me deeply and I did not want to be working solo. I asked Rick to drive me to the event.  We went for a coffee to unwind after the Press Conference when Rick asked me, 

"Where do we find men like Brian?" 

I looked over and was taken aback to see his eyes misty.  I had seen Rick in many mindsets, from steaming anger to silent compassion, but never had I seen his eyes leaking!

Hard-nosed old cops, asking enigmatic questions, with tears in their eyes...  

Not something I had ever seen.

The event was a 9-11 related charity announcing that they would take over the house payments for the murdered officer's family.  The house his wife and children currently live in today.

Sheriff John D'Agostini read a statement by Brian's wife Katie.  In a part where she wrote that it was not long ago that her and her 38-year-old husband had bought their dream home to raise their children and to live in for "the rest of our lives together..."

It was then that I saw the same misty eyes and a slight catch in Sheriff John D'Agostini’s breath. The same look I was seeing in Rick's eyes and catch in his breath as he drove to the coffeehouse. 

At the same event a special guest also spoke.  The brother of an area officer that died in the line of duty. The charity had assumed the mortgage payments on the home after his brother's death. He told the people assembled there that the taking over of the mortgage had made a huge difference to his brother's wife... that was one thing she did not have to worry about during her time of crisis.  

He went on to say that all his brother wanted to do was to put on a badge and help people... His voice cracked and he openly cried, missing his brother.

As I sat in the passenger seat pondering Rick's question of where do we find such men, he went on...  "Where do we find men that run into the gunfire when others are running away?” Many of us have heard this kind of question so many times that it now rings somewhat hollow, but it was Rick’s tone of voice that got my attention more than the question itself.

I don't pry into a person's war experiences and Rick has only told me a little.  That he was shot in the stomach and pinned down in a rice paddy fertilized with manure.  He only told me this because he was going in for even more intestinal surgery. He had been in for a several times already but as he aged new repairs were necessary.  On this day he told me more about his war experience.

After he asked me, “Where do we find men like Brian?"  He said, "Ralph was one of those men" (it was a non-sequitur but I knew who he meant by Ralph because years earlier Rick had given me a treasured keepsake that Ralph had given him the day he brought Rick into the Esperanza Lodge in San Francisco.  Ralph was Rick’s Masonic father as Rick was subsequently mine. Ralph made Rick a Freemason after they returned from the war.)

Rick now told me that he was gut-shot and pinned down.  He yelled over to Ralph [noncommissioned officer - Master Sergeant] that he was out of ammo.  “Ralph looked about and then told me, ‘I'll be right back’" as he broke into open field at a full run.  Rick looked at me and said, “I knew he would be back! The ONLY reason he would not be back is if he was dead!”

He then said, "Where do we find men that run into the gun fire while others are hiding in a hole?"

I then understood his question. 

Indeed, where do we find people like Ralph and Brian!

To all those that gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to others -- Rest in Peace.

Cris Alarcon, Oct. 27 2019.