This Week in USBP History, Vol. 42
June 19 - June 25
Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
I want to start today's email with a sincere thank you to you. Thank you for letting me send these emails to you, reading them and giving me feedback. Thank you for letting me be part of the Border Patrol family even into retirement. It is incredibly meaningful for me to be able to do this. Thank you!
This week brings us more interesting historic documents:
A great highlight of today is an email from retired Deputy Chief of the Border Patrol Ronald Colburn where he shares the very recent loss of his mother, stories from when he was a young agent and illustrates 4 generations of Colburns patrolling the border.
We remember three Newton-Azrak Award recipients, two of which are part of this email list.
Also, we remember two of our fallen.
Have a great week!
Email from Retired Deputy Chief of the Border Patrol Ronald Colburn
I am incredibly fortunate to be in a position to share USBP history with so many. In doing this, I am privileged to exchange emails and telephone calls with people who have shaped and continue to contribute to the United States Border Patrol. One of these people is Ron Colburn, a great person by every definition.
Yesterday, Ron sent me an email in response to last week's request for information concerning the impacts that the deaths of Border Patrol Inspector Newton and Border Patrol Inspector Azrak had on the organization, specifically in regards to checkpoint operations and initial training for new hires.
He began his email by sharing that his mother, M. Diana Colburn, had sadly passed on June 17, 2022. I know that all of you join me in offering our deepest condolences.
Below, with Ron's permission, I have included a lightly edited version of the email that he sent me. I have added hyperlinks that I hope are correct. It offers a great firsthand account of Ron's earliest days in the Patrol and an incredible glimpse of what may be the only family to have four generations patrolling the border.
My comments are italicized.
Yesterday, my 93-year-old mother, M. Diana Colburn passed away. She was the eldest matriarch of a 4-generation family of border protectors, defenders & patrollers.
She was daughter-in-law to:
Also: The Newton-Azrak incident did not uniformly change checkpoint ops. tactics, as I still stood point—middle of the night— along remote roadways, with only myself and one other Agent back in 1978-1983, @ the TCA/DGL Station. (Douglas Station in Arizona)
In August 1978, I EOD’d in Tucson, AZ and was assigned to the Douglas Station. After being sworn in, filling out reams of paperwork & being driven down to Pima Uniforms (Tucson) for rough duty shirts, pants & leather gear during my first day, I was then given directions to the DGL station on the back of a paper napkin and sent on my 125-mile drive to my new duty post.
I showed up the next morning, from the local landmark Gadsden Hotel, in rough duty shirt & pants, a river belt, with holster, loops, cuff case and keepers, but no pistol, badge, cuffs or ammo.
stepped in the back door of the “old” DGL BP Station at 10 till 7, and only the PAIC was there—he inquired, “Are you Colburn?” I said, “Yes, sir.” He snatched up a leather pouch & keys from his desk and tossed them at me. He growled, “You got Naco today!” (Note: Naco, now known as the Brian Terry Station, was a sub-office of the DGL Station, and was only then being staffed up for independent operations).
I said, “Where’s Naco?” He said, “Just drive west 22 miles, along the border road; you can’t miss it!” I did. I ended up 45 miles to the West, in Sierra Vista, and promptly arrested 4 illegals from Mexico coming out of the brush roadside, just as I drove up on them.
Being a border brat, I spoke some Spanish / Spanglish and squeezed all four into the backseat bench of my marked patrol sedan. Then, I fumbled with the unit’s radio until I raised someone on the radio (a surprised PAIC Blankenship, DGL) who dispatched the nearest available Journeyman to assist with transport & processing (I had no idea where I was and didn’t leave for the Academy until 12 days later). Evidently, they didn’t realize that I was a Border Patrol brat and actually recognized an illegal alien, so nobody was actually expecting me to arrest anyone.
Mind you, I was in uniform & driving a patrol vehicle, but I had no badge, no gun, etc. They figured out that probably wasn’t a wise practice, and I spent most of the rest of the time mending barbed wire border fence; cleaning out the storage room; changing tires on patrol vehicles, and about anything else to keep me busy and “out of harm’s way,” until they could ship me off to the Academy.
I remember hearing about the Newton-Azrak incident when I was about 12 years old, and we had just moved to Campo, CA from Rouses Pt., NY. — summer of ‘68 (a year after the incident). My Dad had just EOD’d at Campo as the ‘Station Second Senior’ (years later renamed ‘APAIC’). (Today the position is called Deputy Patrol Agent in Charge - DPAIC).
So anyway, my point was that the tactical changes were likely local and sporadic, since some stations still practiced Newton-Azrak styled ops into the eighties, at least. That’s probably why you didn’t find any written policy.
Esprit de Corps
The workplace climate resulting from a combination of organizational pride and employee morale.
Esprit de corps is reinforced through the shared goals, mission and values of the organization and its employees.
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.
Newton-Azrak Award Action Anniversaries
Follow this link to see examples of USBP employees Upholding Honor First.
Robert E. Jolicoeur
Border Patrol Agent
Del Rio Sector
On June 21, 1990, Border Patrol Agent Robert E. Jolicoeur responded to a call for assistance from the Eagle Pass Police Department concerning a possible hostage situation. After lengthy negotiations with the heavily armed suspect by local policy authorities had failed, Agent Jolicoeur risked his life to disarm and subdue the individual. His professionalism and unselfish dedication resulted in the successful termination of a critical situation without injury or loss of life.
John D. Marlborough
Senior Patrol Agent
El Centro Sector
On June 21, 1994, agents from the Riverside Border Patrol Station were working information in the Moreno Valley area near Riverside, California. The agents were traveling down Gilman Springs Road and were passing a large onion field being harvested when agents saw several of the pickers start to run. Senior Patrol Agent John D. Marlborough obtained permission from the foreman and consent was given for the agents to check the crew. As agents were working their way through the crew of almost 100 workers, they saw another subject bolt from the group and run away. Agent Saturnino Natera pursued the individual until he dove headfirst into Mystic Lake and swam away from the shoreline. Agent Natera stopped at the water’s edge and advised the subject that, for his own safety, he should not try to evade arrest by swimming out into the lake. As the other agents kept watch on the subject, Agent Natera left to chase other abscondees.
Agent Aricelia Sandoval was attempting to talk the subject out of the water when she noticed that he seemed to be having difficulty keeping his head above water. Agent John Marlborough arrived at the scene, removed his gear, and entered the lake. As he approached the subject, who at this time was almost 400 yards off the shore, he attempted to secure the person and bring him back to the shore. The subject continued to resist until he was too waterlogged to fight anymore. At the time, Agent Marlborough swam back to the shore with the semi-conscious alien in tow. The alien was removed from the water without injury and did not require first aid. It was later determined at the Border Patrol station that he was a criminal alien.
Agent Marlborough risked his own life in order to save the life of an alien attempting to evade arrest.
Jay Visconti - photo, statuette
Border Patrol Agent
San Diego Sector
On June 24, 1999, Border Patrol Agent Jay Visconti observed an automobile driving erratically on northbound Interstate 15, in San Diego, California. Agent Visconti was on-duty and returning from firearms training. Agent Visconti maneuvered his marked Border Patrol sedan closer to the erratically moving automobile and was able to ascertain that the driver of the vehicle was in serious distress. Agent Visconti then observed that the front seat passenger was attempting to steer the vehicle.
Agent Visconti realized that this was an extremely grave situation. Traffic was very congested during this time and there was a great deal of danger to the safety of the motoring public. Agent Visconti activated his overhead lights and created a traffic break. The erratically moving vehicle did not stop, but pulled over to the shoulder of the road and continued at a slow rate of speed. Agent Visconti pulled over and, exiting his vehicle, ran alongside of the offending vehicle until he was able to jump in through the passenger window and turn off the ignition.
The driver was apparently suffering from a heart attack. Agent Visconti immediately activated the emergency medical system and proceeded to render first aid treatment. When the San Diego Police and Fire Departments arrived, the driver was in full cardiac arrest and Agent Visconti was performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on her.
Tragically, the afflicted driver of the automobile did not survive. Upon being relieved of performing CPR, Agent Visconti was instrumental in directing the fast moving traffic around the scene of the stop and providing much needed support to the grieving passenger.
As of May 16, 2022, the U.S. Border Patrol has suffered 152* fallen.
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.
Robert W. Kelsay
Date of Birth: January 23, 1899
Entered on Duty: July 1, 1927
Title: Senior Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: June 25, 1930
During the night of June 25, 1930, Senior Patrol Inspector Robert W. Kelsay and another officer were watching a river crossing near Laredo, Texas. They were fired upon by liquor smugglers whom they had attempted to stop. During the gunbattle, Senior Patrol Inspector Kelsay was fatally wounded. There is no information available regarding the identity of the smugglers.
Survivor benefits - As per this document, his wife received $58.33 per month.
Earl F. Fleckinger
Date of Birth: July 25, 1917
Entered on Duty: September 8, 1941
Title: Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: June 23, 1945
At about 3:00 p.m. on the afternoon of June 23, 1945, Patrol Inspectors Earl F. Fleckinger and Wilbur E. Kinney were patrolling on U.S. Highway No. 98 about 1 1/2 miles east of Calexico, California, when they stopped and searched an automobile driven by a Mexican alien. Search of the automobile disclosed a quantity of liquor in the rear compartment, whereupon the alien was placed under arrest. The officers then started west toward Calexico with the alien. Inspector Fleckinger was driving the government automobile with the alien seated beside him and Inspector Kinney was following immediately behind in the alien's automobile. They had proceeded about one mile when Mr. Kinney heard two shots and observed the government automobile swerve off the road and into an adjacent canal bank.
Mr. Kinney stopped the alien's car about 10 or 15 yards ahead of the government car, and while he was attempting to get out of the automobile, the alien fired four shots, which failed to hit him. Inspector Kinney pursued, caught and subdued the alien, and left him in an apparently unconscious condition lying prone in the center of the highway. Mr. Kinney then went to the aid of Inspector Fleckinger, at which time his attention was drawn back to the alien who was observed to be staggering across the international boundary into Mexico.
Inspector Fleckinger was taken to a hospital in Calexico by a passerby. He had been shot in the head, which resulted in his death about 6:15 p.m. on the same day.
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Blog author, retired U.S. Border Patrol Assistant Chief and, current U.S. Border Patrol employee advocate.
Site founder and owner, former Senior Patrol Agent and retired Immigration Special Agent.
U.S. Border Patrol historian and retired Deputy Chief Patrol Agent.
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