Game Warden Memorial


Game Warden Memorial Statue
Game Warden Memorial - Artist: Pamela Gilbreth Watkins

Each day, over 550 Texas game wardens dedicate themselves to protecting the state's natural resources. It's a legacy they've carried on since game wardens first enforced resource conservation laws in the Lone Star State prior to the turn of the century (1895). Texas Game Wardens also help to keep their communities safe, patrol the state's vast waterways, and respond to natural disasters. For 19 wardens, that dedication cost them their lives.

A memorial honoring Texas Game Wardens who lost their lives in the line of duty has been erected at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, Texas. The Memorial Plaza features a bronze life-sized Game Warden statue accompanied by the Texas and American flags.

Following is a list of Texas Game Wardens who died in the line of duty, and the circumstances surrounding their deaths:

  • Joe Williams and Harry Raymond - Both officers were washed away in a hurricane in 1919 while trying to reach their boat RELIANCE in Aransas Bay to put out more anchors.  More details of the event.
  • Dawson Richard Murchison - While patrolling for poaching activities on the King Ranch in 1938, was murdered by a poacher near the site currently known as Murchison Lake. The lake is near the county line between Kleberg and Jim Wells counties. The murderer fled into Mexico and was never brought to trial.
  • R.M. Wynne - Was killed in a car accident near Amarillo in 1948.
  • Gus Engeling - A warden and a biologist, Engeling was murdered by a duck poacher in Anderson County in 1951 near the current site of the Wildlife Management Area which bears his name. The poacher was apprehended, convicted of murder and executed in the electric chair.
  • Claude Keller - Was killed in a plane crash in 1956 while patrolling the Laguna Madre for illegal netting activities.
  • J.D. Murphree - Was murdered by a duck poacher in Jasper County in 1963. The murderer was apprehended, convicted of manslaughter and given a prison term.
  • Joe Evans - Was killed in a car accident while patrolling in Young County in 1965.
  • Lloyd Gustin - Drowned on Somerville Lake in 1968 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers boat he was riding in capsized and sank.
  • Ronnie Germany - Was murdered by a poacher in San Augustine County in 1973 while patrolling a remote river bottom area. The poacher was caught, convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to prison.
  • James Daughtrey - Was killed in a head-on collision with suspected night hunters while patrolling near the Nueces River in McMullen County in 1978.
  • Sergeant James Birmingham - Suffered a fatal heart attack October 12, 1988 while patrolling the bays near Port O'Connor.
  • Barry Decker and Bruce Hill - Both officers drowned while on patrol on Lake Murvaul in Panola County in 1990.
  • Mike Pauling - Stopped to offer roadside assistance in Port Arthur on August 2, 2001. A driver sped off with Pauling partially inside his vehicle, and the warden was thrown to the roadway and killed. The driver was convicted of aggravated assault on a public servant; he received 55 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
  • Wes Wagstaff - Was killed in a head-on collision while responding to an Operation Game Thief call in Hardin County on August 5, 2003.
  • Justin Hurst - Murdered by gunfire while apprehending an illegal road hunter in Wharton County on March 17, 2007.
  • Teyran (Ty) Patterson - Drowned May 30, 2007 while attempting to recover the body of a drowning victim from the Paluxy River.
  • George Harold Whatley, Jr. - Suffered a fatal heart attack October 10, 2008 while participating in a required physical fitness assessment at Fort Stockton High School.

The Officer Down Memorial Page contains more information