BELTON, Texas — On March 9, 2023, the Bell County Sheriff's Department made sure that fallen Deputy John Rhoden's name would live on.
During a morning ceremony, the department unveiled the sign officially renaming a section of Loop 121 as the Deputy Sheriff John Rhoden Memorial Highway.
Almost every agency in Bell County came out to the ceremony to show their support, from the Temple Police Department, Texas Department of Transportation and members of the Troy, Killeen and Harker Heights Police Departments.
"This day forward, as long as this road is in existence, the memory of Deputy John Rhoden not only in our minds, but in the history books, on the maps and atlases, on Google, everywhere. Deputy John Rhoden's name will live on forever," Bell County Sheriff, Eddy Lange said.
Deputy Rhoden grew up in Lampasas and attended the University of North Texas. He originally pursued a major in music.
Rhoden's dad, Michael Rhoden, said John graduated with honors. Afterwards, he started his career in law enforcement with the Bell County Sheriff's Department. In 2014, John was selected to go to the police academy in Temple, where he once again graduated with honors.
Deputy Rhoden served for a decade with the Bell County Sheriff's Department.
"Deputy Rhoden was one of my outstanding young deputies," Lange said.
Rhoden's family says he did his job with pride and joy.
"He'd come over and visit us," Michael Rhoden said. "All he wanted to do was talk about his job. He gave everything he had to this community."
Deputy Rhoden was killed on April 26, 2020, while trying to put down spike strips to stop a suspect who was leading police on a chase in a stolen vehicle.
The chase started in Williamson County and proceeded into Bell County along IH-35. A tractor trailer hit Deputy Rhoden near Exit 294.
The highway designation in his name was passed during the 87th legislature under Texas House Bill 532 thanks to State Representative Hugh Shine.
Manuel Ramirez Junior is charged with murder for the death of Deputy Rhoden. He is being held without bond at the Bell County Jail.