Every week I include the definition of Esprit de Corps. But, I have the suspicion that many may skip over it to get to the good tidbits of history following it. This week, I have a two special requests of the active USBP folks:
- Please read the entire definition and visit the Honor First & Esprit de Corps page, and
- Take a moment to consider how you can help employee perceptions of being valued by the organization change for the positive.
The USBP is solid at responding to an employee crisis with the Chaplains, Peer Support and Honor Guard. When employees have an emergency, we leap into action for their benefit and graciously accept assistance from our friends at the Border Patrol Foundation. Where great opportunities for improvement for the USBP exists, is in valuing the workforce on a day by day basis (not just during a crisis). Doing better for the workforce on a daily basis is what will have impacts on attrition/retention, FEVS and mission sustainment/accomplishment. Things like communication (listen better and share information better), employee friendly policies, appropriate recognition (my personal favorite), fair discipline, etc...
I would say that the best place to start, is with your direct reports. It doesn’t matter their title or paygrade. The importance of feeling valued doesn’t go away with age, paygrade or title.
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 March 9, 1904, the Governor of Arizona wrote a letter of recommendation for Jeff Milton (1861-1947) to be a Chinese Immigrant Inspector. The letter gives a brief outline of Milton’s various jobs.
- As per documents that supported Jeff Milton's retirement in 1932, he was neither a Border Patrol Inspector nor a member of the Border Patrol. He was a well-known law enforcement officer in the El Paso District, which encompasses modern day Tucson, El Paso and Big Bend Sectors. It is thought that the leaders of the newly formed Border Patrol used Jeff Milton's rugged independence as an example for new inspectors to follow. This led to him mistakenly being considered the first Border Patrol Inspector.?
- On March 11, 1925, the Detroit District Director wrote a memo requesting that Border Patrol Inspectors be “designated special agents of the Prohibition Department”. Interesting in this memo:
- Three “Patrol Inspectors in Charge” are mentioned. That title would be changed to “Chief Patrol Inspector” with the implementation of General Order 61 in 1926.
- Also with the implementation of General Order 61, Ruel Davenport, one of the three mentioned Patrol Inspectors in Charge, would become one of the first two Chiefs of the Border Patrol.
- On March 29, 1926, about a year after this memo, General Order 63 would be implemented giving Border Patrol Inspectors and Immigrant Inspectors clear authority to enforce laws other than immigration laws.
- This document describes a March 7, 1928, gunfight that occurred between Border Patrol Inspectors and alcohol smugglers in San Elizardio, Texas. Interestingly, Border Patrol Inspector Bogel, who wrote the initial report stated that no smugglers were shot/injured while failing to mention that he had suffered a grazing bullet wound to his face.
- On March 7, 1935, Border Patrol Inspector Charles Askins wrote a memo concerning a national rifle and pistol shooting competition that occurred every August or September at Camp Perry, Ohio. He further wrote about his progress at developing a course of fire for Border Patrol Inspectors and a handbook, Manual of the Pistol.
- On a related note, the Border Patrol would form a team and compete at Camp Perry later that year. "…in its first appearance in the National Pistol Match finished fourth with a score only three points below the three teams tied for first place." See this document (pg 6). See the HonorFirst USBP History page for more information on the beginnings of the USBP Pistol Team.
- By the late 1940, discussions of moving the USBP Training School (Academy) away from the Camp Chigas location were occurring. This March 7, 1949 document discusses moving the USBP Training School to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
- The document mentions that the USBP Training School’s director, Harlon Carter, helped design the buildings. By this time, Carter would have been in the USBP only 13 years (since 1936) and had already been the Chief Patrol Inspector of the New Orleans Sub-district (1942-1944). He would later become the 8th Chief of the Border Patrol (1950-1957), and the first “Chief” to have graduated from the “Academy”.
- It should be noted, if still standing, the building housing the El Paso Sub-district 2 headquarters and station and, the first national training school (Camp Chigas) would be located in the United States by 10-20 feet. See this document. However, there is a former U.S. Border Patrol building that is still standing that is located in Mexico. It is the Comisión Internacional de Límites y Aguas building. See this document.
(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
Adam R. Ruiz
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent
Rio Grande Valley Sector
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Adam R. Ruiz was recognized for demonstrating unusual courage during an extremely dangerous and stressful situation. On March 11, 2008, while performing his assigned duties on U.S. Highway 281 near San Manuel, Texas, Agent Ruiz encountered a vehicle traveling northbound he suspected of being involved in human trafficking. After initiating a vehicle stop, he observed the vehicle pull over on the shoulder and into the grass off the highway. The driver absconded and the vehicle continued to travel forward and back onto the highway.
While taking immediate action to prevent the vehicle from rolling into the oncoming traffic, Agent Ruiz discovered the brakes were not functioning and maneuvered the vehicle off the northbound lanes, avoiding a major collision with other traffic including a semi-tractor trailer. After finally bringing the vehicle to a stop, he discovered that there were 10 undocumented aliens in the vehicle. With the assistance of Rio Grande Valley CBP air assets, the driver was located.
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.
Philip D. Strobridge
Date of Birth: December 28, 1904
Entered on Duty: October 1, 1930
Title: Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: March 7, 1933
In the early morning hours of March 2, 1933, Patrol Inspectors Philip D. Strobridge and Harold W. Brown were injured when the government automobile in which they were riding left the highway in a fog near Fallbrook, California. The officers, accompanied by Senior Patrol Inspector Irvin J. Curtis of Elsinore, California, had been detailed to Los Angeles to appear before a Federal Grand Jury and to work information relative to smuggling in aircraft.
The three officers left Los Angeles at approximately 11:00 p.m., enroute to Elsinore and then on to Chula Vista. They encountered heavy fog, which hampered the driver's vision and prompted very slow driving. Near Puente, they came upon an accident on the highway in which several persons had been severely injured. The Patrol Inspectors spent about 45 minutes at the scene of the wreck directing traffic to keep the road clear and to prevent further accidents.They were relieved on arrival of Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriffs and resumed their return trip to Elsinore where Inspector Curtis lived.
Reports of the accident revealed the government automobile left the highway on an "S" turn and crashed into a concrete abutment. Patrol Inspector Strobridge suffered a frontal fracture of the skull. He was transported to the U.S. Naval Hospital, San Diego, where he passed away at 1:35 p.m. on March 7, 1933.
Anthony L. Oneto
Date of Birth: December 29, 1916
Entered on Duty: October 24, 1940
Title: Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: March 11, 1947
On March 11, 1947, while conducting routine traffic checks near Indio, California, Patrol Inspectors Anthony L. Oneto and John L. Fouquette arrested Carlos Ochoa Romero in the act of hauling four smuggled aliens. The aliens were placed in the back seat of the government car and Ochoa was instructed to drive his car to the Border Patrol Office. After a short time, Ochoa stopped his car, which was being followed by the government car, walked back, said something about his car stalling, pulled a.32 caliber pistol from his pocket, and began firing at the officers. Inspector Oneto was struck four times in the head and died instantly. Patrol Inspector Fouquette was wounded but returned the fire, wounding Ochoa, who escaped in the darkness. In spite of this activity, Inspector Fouquette was able to retain custody of the smuggled aliens until help arrived.
Victor C. Ochoa
Date of Birth: March 16, 1947
Entered on Duty: June 17, 1978
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: March 11, 1983
On March 11, 1983, Victor E. Ochoa, a U.S. Border Patrol Agent stationed in the Tucson Sector, Casa Grande Station, was involved in a fatal traffic accident when the van in which he was transporting prisoners collided with a dump truck at the intersection of Ralston and Papago Roads about 22 miles southwest of Maricopa in Pinal County. The accident occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. He was transported by helicopter to St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, where he died of multiple head injuries sustained in the accident.
Miguel J. Maldonado
Date of Birth: September 29, 1952
Entered on Duty: May 12, 1980
Title: Senior Patrol Agent
End of Watch: March 10, 1997
At approximately 11:24 a.m., Senior Patrol Agent Miguel Maldonado of the Port Isabel Station was performing sensor response patrol duties alone in a Service vehicle, traveling on Alton Gloor Road in Brownsville, Texas. An eyewitness stated that Agent Maldonado’s vehicle turned left across the centerline of the road, sliding across the roadway and into the ditch adjacent to the road. It then struck an earthen berm with its passenger side tires and rolled over one complete turn, landing on its wheels. At the time of the accident, Agent Maldonado was driving in an emergency response mode with his vehicle’s emergency lights and siren activated.
Supervisory Patrol Agent Herbert J. Monette of the Brownsville Station was notified of the accident and arrived at the scene soon afterward as EMS personnel were trying to save Agent Maldonado. They then decided to transport Agent Maldonado to Brownsville Medical Center, where emergency room personnel also tried to save him. But about 12:15 p.m., Agent Monette was informed that Agent Maldonado had died from wounds sustained in the accident. The likely cause of the accident was the wet condition of the roadway.
Agent Maldonado began his Border Patrol career with the Laredo Sector. He was reassigned in August 1988 as Senior Border Patrol Agent at the Port Isabel Station under the McAllen Sector, the position he held at the time of his death.