This Altamonte Springs Police Officer helps Honor Flight Central Florida pay homage to our nation’s war veterans
Officer Luis Roman is a public relations coordinator at the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Center located in the lower level of the Altamonte Mall. That puts Luis front-and-center among the public he serves, but the highly visible role suits his outgoing and affable personality.
In addition to his many professional duties with COPS, Luis volunteers his time to honor our nation’s military veterans through Honor Flight Central Florida. A look around his COPS office confirms just how much Luis enjoys this way of giving back. He proudly shows off a collage of photos on his office wall filled with images of the elder veterans he’s met during the Honor Flights to Washington, D.C., that Luis has helped arrange.
He knows the name of every veteran in his collage, their rank, and when and where they served. Most notably, Luis also knows something personal about each vet – a sign of how much he respects these courageous men and women. One image on Luis’s wall is an older black-and-white photo of a handsome man in uniform who looks strikingly familiar.
“That’s my dad,” Luis says with obvious pride. “He served in the Korean War. You should have seen my room as a kid. There was military paraphernalia everywhere that I got from him.”
From the time Luis was a young boy, it was his dad who inspired Luis’s dreams of serving his country. At the tender age of 17, Luis approached his parents with the news that he wanted to join the military. His dad could not have been prouder – until Luis told him the unthinkable: He was going to join the Marines. His dad’s silence was palpable.
“You know,” his father finally proclaimed, “I served in the Army!”
“I think it broke his heart that I wasn’t joining the Army,” Luis says with a grin. “But when I told him I wanted to take my own path, he understood. I knew exactly what I was getting into.”
With his parents’ blessing and signed permission papers in hand, Luis graduated from high school and promptly joined the Marines. He served from 1986 to 1992 and participated in Operation Desert Storm before returning home to New Jersey to be a deputy sheriff for the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office.
Although Luis served a short stint as a law-enforcement officer in New Jersey, the bulk of his career has been with the Altamonte Springs Police Department. Outside the COPS Center, Luis serves as a hostage negotiator with the Seminole County Negotiation team, and he is the recipient of two medals of merit and an award for saving a life. Among his many duties, Luis also volunteers his time to the department’s Honor Guard team.
Three years ago, as part of the Honor Guard, Luis was asked to receive a group of veterans coming home from an Honor Flight, a nonprofit service that flies war veterans to Washington, D.C., at no charge to visit the memorials built to honor them.
So moved by what he witnessed, Luis became an active member of Honor Flight Central Florida, serving on its board and working as the director of ground operations for the past two years. He works hard to ensure every flight to Washington and back runs smoothly, from the early morning breakfast before takeoff, to the chartered transportation around the capital, to the raucous reception the vets receive when they return home to the airport.
When asked why he devotes his spare time to honor veterans, Luis pauses for a moment to reflect.
“Police work is what I do for a living, and I love what I do, but my passion is to serve the veterans who served us,” he says. “I do a lot of speaking engagements for Honor Flight, and I love to use the quote from Will Rogers, who said, ‘We can’t all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.’ That’s basically what we do. We clap as the veterans go by. They sacrificed so much for us, and it’s a duty and an honor to give back to them.”
And no one understands that better than this Marine who served his country with honor, courage, and commitment.
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