AUSTIN (Nexstar)— The bagpipes and a gun salute filled the air with sound and smoke at the Texas Department of Public Safety headquarters in Austin, as agency leaders honored officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.

DPS Director Colonel Steven McCraw says 221 Troopers, Rangers, and Special Agents have been killed in action since 1823.

“It takes courage, both mental and physical to knowingly risk your life every day to protect people,” McCraw said, acknowledging the Troopers who were shot and hit by drivers on Texas roads.

“Since January 2016, we’ve had 51 Troopers hit from behind by vehicles while they’re on the side of the road parked while enforcing or protecting people,” McCraw said.

While honoring the fallen, DPS took the opportunity to remind Texas drivers about road safety.

“Reduce those distractions, pay attention out there,” said Texas Highway Patrol Sergeant Robbie Barrera. “We are out there to protect you and to make sure that you got home safely to your loved ones, so make sure that we get home safely also.”

DPS also recognized fallen Trooper Terry Wayne Miller, who was killed in October 1999. His widow and daughter presented a wreath at the memorial service. 

Other family members of fallen troopers attended the service.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar served as keynote speaker.

“Over all of the years that I have interfaced as an elected official and as a public citizen of this great state with those that work for Department of Public Safety, there is no other law-enforcement agency that has the highest level of professionalism, courtesy, respect, and it is always a great joy to interact with those individuals,” Hegar said Tuesday morning.

No Troopers lost their lives on the job in 2018. The department posted a list with more information about the fallen officers on its website.