Last Updated on July 25, 2021 7:52 pm
It's been 9 years since the untimely passing of Watauga County Deputy William Mast Jr.
He was just 23 years old when killed while responding to a call in Deep Gap during the early morning hours of July 26, 2012. At that time Deputy Mast became only the second officer of the Watauga County Sheriff's Department killed in the line of duty since 1952, and only the third officer to pass away while actively serving. Sadly, just this year alone two Watauga County deputies were killed during a welfare check on April 28, Sgt. Chris Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan Fox.
In an article I wrote on February 24, 2014, titled Widow Of Watauga County Sheriff’s Deputy Shares Her Story, my first sentence was “It was an event that no family, law enforcement agency, or media outlet wants to be informed of: “Deputy Killed In Overnight Shooting“. Little did I know in 2012 and 2014 that covering the shooting of two more local law enforcement officers would happen just nine and seven years later respectively.
Since the time of Deputy Mast Jr.'s passing there has been a bridge dedication, his name added to the Fallen Officer's Memorial, an annual memorial foot race established, an annual memorial motorcycle ride established and the birth of his son – just 17 days after he passed.
At the 8th year mark of his passing WataugaOnline.com reached out to Sheriff Hagaman for his thoughts. His full response at the time is below:
That’s the equivalent of a child going from the First Grade to the Eighth Grade…or an equal amount of time that will hopefully propel the same traditional student through BOTH high school and college.
It’s the amount of time that a Deputy, or Police Officer, has begun and completed their first quarter of an honorable and professional career – filled with service above self and the guardian between good and evil.
It’s eight years where a void still resides in our minds and hearts; as we once again silently look and reflect on every July 26…
It’s eight years where we are finding ourselves telling new officers about “one of our own,” who gave the ultimate sacrifice at a time when these “newbie’s” were probably only 13 years old…
Nothing really prepares us for our July 26, daily, monthly, and annual loss that grief brings us – at various times, we all feel the loss…let us truly never forget.
Personally, it always raises questions, as I purposely sent a co-worker and brother into harm's way – never to return to a yet-to-be born child, family and friends.
That said, the key is to always remember that our folks are indeed, “the very best, of the best.”
Let us ALL honor the service, memory and life of Deputy William Mast Jr. and just as importantly his reach beyond death to continue to touch and inspire his fellow officers and ALL citizens of Watauga County.”