I’ve said before that these emails are not meant to be controversial, harassing or otherwise negative. However, infrequently, something comes up that I believe needs mentioning. That occurs today related to the actions in the Newton-Azrak Award section where two agents were recognized for actions that had occurred 16-years earlier. Which was and is a tremendous example of the USBP valuing its workforce (including a retiree)! Unfortunately, since April 2000, the Border Patrol has all but ceased recognizing past actions older than 2 years, contrary to the USBP Honorary Awards policy. That choice to stray from valuing the workforce has been and continues to be to the detriment of hundreds and hundreds of employees.
It is my sincere hope that, in these times when the morale of the workforce is so low, that there is a renewed effort to value the workforce, in all that that simple phrase entails. Employee recognition does not fix morale problems, but they are a low hanging fruit that has many orders of effect.
Now to This Week in USBP History!
Esprit de Corps
The workplace climate resulting from a combination of organizational pride and employee morale.
- Organizational pride is the positive feeling experienced by employees from being part of a meaningful team that is rich in history, tradition and culture.
- Employee morale is the feeling experienced by employees based in part on their perception of being valued by the organization, fairly compensated and performing meaningful work.
The definition turns Esprit de Corps into a simple formula and defines parts that comprise organizational pride and employee morale.
Esprit de Corps = Organizational Pride + Employee Morale
Esprit de Corps is the key to a healthy organization and engaged employees.
Honor First is foundational to the Border Patrol's organizational pride and integral to its Esprit de Corps.
- On February 8, 1911, an announcement for Mounted Inspector was issued. This position has also been referred to as the Mounted Watchmen and Mounted Guard.
- There was an organization called the Immigration Patrol that was different from the aforementioned and was abolished on August 18, 1919 as per this 1920 document. Very little information is know about it.
- On February 12, 1926, Chief Supervisor Irving P. Wixon who would later raise to be the Deputy Commissioner of the INS, wrote a 9-page memo concerning the conditions of the Port of Calexico. Interesting aspects of the memo:
- “Chief Supervisor” was a title unique to Wixon. He appeared to be a power assistant to the Commissioner-General and work out of HQ. It is possible that the position evolved to become “Deputy Commissioner”.
- Wixon criticizes:
- The efficiency of the Voluntary Return
- Border Patrol inspectors’ poor fluency in Spanish
- Border Patrol inspectors’ lack of knowledge of immigration law
- On February 28, 1928, Ruel Davenport was the sole Chief of the Border Patrol and was conducting a tour of the Buffalo District at the direction of the Commissioner-General. He wrote a detailed, 5-page report on his observations of the district and it two Border Patrol sub-districts, Buffalo and Niagara Falls.
- On February 6, 1929, Montreal District Commissioner of Immigration Landis wrote a memo to the Commissioner-General. The memo has several interesting points:
- It shows the hierarchy of Border Patrol inspectors being “kicked upstairs” to Immigrant Inspectors.
- Commissioner Landis writes of his disagreement with Assistant Superintendent Antonio Bonazzi (although he doesn’t mention his name).
- An Assistant Superintendent was the highest-ranking uniformed position in the Border Patrol (see this link for the early rank insignia/hierarchy). Each district along the border had one. Landis was writing about his non-concurrence with his subordinate.
- On February 12, 1930, Assistant Superintendent Nicolas Donald Collaer (7th Chief of the Border Patrol), submitted a blueprint for a reorganization of the El Paso District sub-districts. There are several interesting aspects of the proposal:
- The El Paso District, District #25, was comprised of:
- Sub-district #1 – Modern-day Tucson Sector
- Sub-district #2 – Modern-day El Paso Sector
- Sub-district #3 – Modern-day Big Bend Sector
- The blueprint primarily shows sub-district #1, the modern-day Tucson Sector. On the right side of the blueprint, written vertically are mentions of the other two sub-districts.
- Early use of the titles Assistant Chief Patrol Inspector, Sector Chief (modern PAIC), Assistant Sector Chief (Modern DPAIC)
- Calling modern stations “Sectors”
- The El Paso District, District #25, was comprised of:
- On February 7, 1955, a person named Crosby sent Chief of the Border Patrol Harlon Carter a comparison of the USBP promotions and resignations. It compares Jul-Dec 1953 to Jul-Dec 1954.
(Follow this link to see examples of USBP employees Upholding Honor First)
- An organization’s values are codified in its awards system. Recognizing the achievements, service and heroism of employees is important. It is critical for those in positions of leadership to value the workforce. Awards are a fundamental manner for leaders to demonstrate appreciation to the workforce for upholding the organizational values. – U.S. Border Patrol Honorary Awards
- Administrative accomplishments,
- Acts of heroism and valor,
- Law enforcement actions, and
- Lifesavings actions.
Such was the case in the events highlighted today with Gregory Stecher and George Woodward. Both were involved in an incredibly dangerous, low-light rescue on the thin ice of Lake Champlain. Both received high recognition from outside of the USBP, but nothing from the USBP. After 16 years, the USBP corrected that oversight and presented them with our highest recognition, the Newton-Azrak Award. It should be noted that George Woodward was retired and is currently the only person to have to received the Newton-Azrak Award while retired. They are examples of employees upholding Honor First and of the USBP valuing its workforce.
Gregory M. Stecher - photo
Border Patrol Agent
In the morning hours of February 11, 2005, Agent Stecher responded to a call to support a Coast Guard rescue mission involving a partially submerged vehicle on the thin ice of Lake Champlain. Two men had become stranded on the snow-covered ice when their vehicle broke through the ice. The USCG Rescue team became exhausted with the onset of hypothermia and requested assistance. Agent Stecher was aware that recent weather conditions were conducive to thin ice and that another rescue snowmobile had already broken through the ice. Beyond the call of duty and facing grave danger, Agent Stecher operated his snowmobile on the thin ice and rescued one of the fishermen while his partner and Vermont Fish and Game units rescued the Coast Guardsmen. While speeding to shore with a victim onboard, Agent Stecher’s snowmobile began to break through the ice. Only by maintaining very high speed was he able to stay afloat and complete the rescue. Agent Stecher’s actions brought great credit upon himself and the United States Border Patrol.
George P. Woodward - photo
Border Patrol Agent
In the morning hours of February 11, 2005, Agent Woodward responded to a call to support a Coast Guard rescue mission involving a partially submerged vehicle on the thin ice of Lake Champlain. Two men had become stranded on the snow-covered ice when their vehicle broke through the ice. The USCG Rescue team became exhausted with the onset of hypothermia and requested assistance. Agent Woodward was aware that recent weather conditions were conducive to thin ice and that another rescue snowmobile had already broken through the ice. Beyond the call of duty and facing grave danger, Agent Woodward operated his snowmobile on the thin ice and rescued one of the fishermen while his partner and Vermont Fish and Game units rescued the Coast Guardsmen. While speeding to shore with a victim onboard, Agent Woodward's snowmobile began to break through the ice. Only by maintaining very high speed was he able to stay afloat and complete the rescue. Agent Woodward's actions brought great credit upon himself and the United States Border Patrol.
As of December 8, 2021, the U.S. Border Patrol has suffered 151* fallen.
- 3 Mounted Watchmen fell before 1924 and are carried as Border Patrol fallen
- 48 Border Patrol Inspectors fell between 1924 and 1970
- 99 Border Patrol Agents have fallen since 1970
- 1 Enforcement Analysis Specialist
The names that appear below hold a place of honor. They have made the ultimate sacrifice in an effort to fulfill the oath each officer took to protect and defend the United States of America.
The facts regarding each officer are presented without major editing of the "language of the day" found in the reports detailing the circumstances of each event. This is done to provide the reader an association with historical timeframes.
Employees who died in the line of duty due to being exposed to deadly illnesses will not have the cause of death listed.
*With the exception of two of the fallen immediately below, all names are listed (or in the process of being included) on the official Honor Roll of U.S. Border Patrol fallen and inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. The U.S. Border Patrol should fix these discrepancies. HonorFirst.com honors both of the fallen.
- Joe R. White - He is recognized as officially fallen by the U.S. Border Patrol but his name is not inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial.
- John Charles Gigax - His name is inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial (see link) but he is not recognized as officially fallen by the U.S. Border Patrol. His EOW was November 7, 1999.
Norman G. Ross
Date of Birth: May 15, 1901
Entered on Duty: February 23, 1926
Title: Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: February 10, 1928
Patrol Inspector Norman G. Ross was shot and killed near Kane Springs, California, on the afternoon of February 10, 1928. He had arrested two Mexican aliens and was attempting to convey them to Patrol Headquarters at El Centro. The aliens, in whose car they were being transported, had a revolver concealed in the automobile, which one of the aliens used to kill Inspector Ross. His body was found on the back seat of the aliens' abandoned car. He had been shot through the head.
Survivor benefits - As per this document, his wife received $67.50 per month for her and one child.