Troop B of State Police honor first member killed on duty in 1920

RAY BROOK-Members of Troop B of the New York State Police took time to remember the first Trooper to ever lose their life in the line of duty.

Troop B commander Maj. Rick Smith and Former Troopers Association President Russell Slingerland unveiled a memorial plaque in honor of Lt. James A Skiff during the annual Troop B Memorial Day ceremonies May 25, the 91st anniversary of the day Skiff lost his life.

"He was stationed in Ogdensburg in 1920 and was riding in the sidecar of a division motorcycle when he was killed in an accident," Maj. Smith said. "We usually have our Memorial Day ceremonies on the Wednesday before Memorial Day, so it just worked out that way that we were able to honor his sacrifice on the 91st anniversary of his death."

Skiff is listed as the first member of the NYSP to be killed in the line of duty and, until a year ago, was a man without a "Troop."

"I had a list of Troopers who had died in the line of duty in Troop B, and we had honored everyone on that list," Maj. Smith said. "After last year's services, one of the former Troopers came up to me and told me that he had found three more names on the Wall of Honor of officers who were killed while serving in Troop B."

According to the Wall of Honor website, "Trooper James A. Skiff died at the age of 39 of injuries sustained from an accident which occurred in the city of Ogdensburg on May 25, 1920. Trooper Skiff was a sidecar passenger on a motorcycle that collided with a trolley car.

"Trooper Skiff joined the Division of State Police serving as a First Sergeant at Camp Newayo and in Troop A. He served Troop K as a Lieutenant and later transferred to Troop B."

Skiff lived in New Rochelle. Prior to joining the State Police, he was an officer in the National Guard.

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