August Perault Pierce was born on August 21, 1898 in New London, Connecticut, and he later lived in Rhode Island. Known as "Auggie" to his family, he joined the Navy in 1917, during World War I, and served until 1924, with duties as a painter. He married and lived in the Arlington community of Lyon Park. On January 6, 1930, he became an Alexandria police officer and was known to his fellow officers as "Perry."
In the early morning of September 7, 1930, Private Pierce was patrolling the Alexandria-Washington Highway (present day U.S. Route 1), searching for a robbery suspect who was wanted for committing a number of hold-ups throughout that night.
Around 4:30 a.m., Private Pierce observed a man matching the suspect’s description near Four Mile Run. He asked a passing citizen to follow him and drove away, but when the citizen arrived, he found Private Pierce and a second man on the ground. He went to get help and both men were taken to Alexandria Hospital where Private Pierce was pronounced dead. The second man, shot multiple times, was still alive.
Investigation revealed that Private Pierce had confronted the suspect at a car barn. The two struggled and when the suspect displayed a .32-caliber gun, Private Pierce fired his weapon, striking the suspect. The suspect fired multiple times and one shot hit Private Pierce in the chest, severing the aorta. Police found both weapons and determined at least ten rounds had been fired in the fierce gunfight.
The suspect, Owen Wroten of Denmark, South Carolina, died the next day. He was believed to be in his late teens to early 20s. Witnesses identified him as the robber police were searching for. He was also suspected in the murders of two railroad police officers in the weeks before coming to Alexandria.
Private Pierce was 32 years old and was survived by his wife Marie, and a sister. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.