It has been 10 years since the Santa Clara politician was killed while on duty in Afghanistan

On Tuesday, a special tribute was held to a Santa Clara police detective who was deployed to Afghanistan and never returned. Tuesday marks 10 years since 21-year-old Sean Walsh was killed while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom.

At Santa Clara police headquarters, half a dozen police officers worked out. Their routine consists of 11 wall balls, 16 climbers and 11 kettlebell turns as many rounds as possible in 21 minutes.

“The training is difficult,” said Sgt. Greg Deger from Santa Clara Police Department. “They’ve made that way for a reason. This is part of our heroes WOD program. WOD is today’s training.”

The number of reps and the duration of the training matter. On November 16, 2011, 21-year-old U.S. Army specialist Sean Walsh, who had been an explorer for the Santa Clara police, was killed in Afghanistan.

“He served with the 185th Military Police Battalion,” said Sgt. Deger. “He was killed in a mortar attack. He was very close and dear to us who were here on the ward at the time.”

Deger, who served in the California Army National Guard at the same time as Sean, remembers him as the driver.

“You could see the course,” said Sgt. Deger. “Conscription. He did very well.”

“Ten years,” said Cheryl Walsh of San Jose. “It’s still hard. I’m still crying today, just like I did the first year, the second year, the fourth year.”

Sean was Cheryl Walsh’s only child. Sean’s goal was to join the Santa Clara police. At the age of 18, he was too young to be an officer, so he enlisted in the military and paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“It’s devastating, but as the parent of a soldier who put himself in danger, I’m very proud,” Walsh said.

Sean’s mother started the K9 Memorial Foundation in honor of her son in 2012. Sean’s dream was to become a K9 trader. The non-profit organization has helped procure 32 police dogs across the country. Santa Clara Police was its first K9 recipient.

“Oh, it’s great, our K9 program has benefited greatly from it just like others,” said Sgt. Deger.

Sean’s mother said that if Sean had lived, he would be a K9 trader serving a community.

“Inspired by his passing, we have been able to make 32 dogs available and help two dozen communities and hundreds of thousands of people.”

Now they pay Sean’s dream forward one K9 at a time.

“Sean indirectly watches over us and helps us and still protects people and serves to this day,” said Sgt. Deger.

Sean was also an explorer for the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, so before COVID-19 there would be a major training challenge. The hope is to bring it back next year.

Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Send an email to Azenith at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or


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