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Officer William P. Sniffen | California Highway Patrol, California California Highway Patrol, California

Officer

William P. Sniffen

California Highway Patrol, California

End of Watch: Thursday, April 5, 1973

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 31

Tour: 7 years

Badge # 4464

Cause: Vehicle pursuit

Weapon: Automobile

Offender: Not available

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Officer William Sniffen was killed in a motorcycle accident while pursuing a speeding motorist on the Nimitz Freeway. The vehicle he was pursuing rear-ended another car and burst into flames. Officer Sniffen was unable to stop and slid underneath the burning vehicle.

Officer Sniffen had served with the agency for seven years. He was survived by his wife, son, and daughter.

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Most Recent Reflection

Officer Sniffen, I was thinking about you today as I often do even though it has been over half a century since we last saw each other at Wheeler AFB, Hawaii. We both survived the Halloween night mortar attack at Bien Hoa AB, RVN and that was one hectic night back in 1964 to be sure. I couldn't get to our crash trucks since the Army had direct hits on their hooches and the tracers were flying everywhere. One of the HH43B Helicopter Firefighters based near the base of the control tower was wounded by a friendly fire round but survived. You and I were both off duty that night but it was very scary none the less. How I ended up with your fatigue top on I can't say but all I could think about was getting out of my civies and into a uniform since it was unknown at the time if the base would be overrun. I can remember that night as if it was just yesterday and chaos reigned to be sure. The fire station where we worked was badly damaged by scrapnel as were the three pilot alert trailers next to the station. The VC had us zeroed in from the start since the first mortars hit about 30 yards from the front door of the fire station but all personnel made it out safely but 4 soldiers in the hooches mentioned didn't make it. How can you forget something like this, I know I cannot...and will not. Bye the way, Marty Jester and Eugene Traczyk both were awarded Silver Stars for their brave actions but they never received them until 34 years after that night. What a crock! Well goodnight once again old friend, sleep peacefully. It has been good for me to write and since I am now 74 years old, maybe we will meet again in the not to distant future...you at 31 and me at...who knows? Love you friend and I have not nor will I ever forget you. Note: William D., son of William P., I read your comments and would like to hear from and about your mother, your sister and you. Nothing personal but just maybe a little about your Dad between 1965 and 1973. I live in Ohio but have been in San Francisco a couple times over the years but could not find any info on your family. My daugter went to the Navy's A-School on Treasure Island before the base closed. I will enter my email but it will likely be removed for security reasons. My warmest regards to you and your family. You were indeed fortunate to have had Officer Snifffen as your Dad. I have some pics from Hawaii and Vietnam of your Dad if you are interested.

Robert G. Vanzant DVM
USAF Buddy
August 6, 2017

 

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