July 24 - July 30
Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
I'm going to start this email with a focus on righting past wrongs. Specifically, I'm speaking of recognizing the worthy past actions of employees that were unrecognized or under-recognized.
Let's start with a few recent military examples. Although I'm using just the Medal of Honor, these types of recognitions regularly occur with several other decorations as well. All of these heroes' actions were under-recognized and subsequently corrected with the presentation of the Medal of Honor:
When the Patrol implemented the USBP Honorary Awards Program in 2018, it was better equipped to value the workforce and to correct its past wrongs similar to the military. Below are a few examples of USBP employees being recognized for past actions; examples of wrongs being corrected:
USBP Commendation Medals
Unfortunately, since April 2020, 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 literally hundreds upon hundreds of employees. Strikingly, the decision wasn't forced upon the Patrol from an outside organization or individual, but was the sole choice of Raul Ortiz, Chief of the Border Patrol.
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 have many orders of effect. It's worth mentioning again, the USBP completely controls the USBP Honorary Awards Program.
Recognizing Past Events with USBP Honorary Awards
Now to This Week in USBP History!
I am happy to continue to include references from Joe Banco's books in the history update. He is currently in the DC area conducting research for Volume III of his four book series on USBP history. Please visit the Border Patrol Museum's Gift Shop and purchase his books if you haven't already.
This week's update includes:
Also, we remember three of our fallen on the anniversaries of the deaths.
Have a great week!
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.
Border Patrol Agent
Border Patrol Agent
On July 25, 2010, Border Patrol Agents (Marine) Salvatore Caccamo and Raul Tamayo were conducting Riverine patrol operations on the Lower Niagara River in the Niagara Falls area of responsibility within Buffalo Sector. At about 1830 hours, the agents heard a MAYDAY call over the marine radio.
Earlier in the day, a Canadian family of four and a family friend had ventured onto a calm Lake Ontario in a 24-foot vessel for a pleasure cruise. As the afternoon progressed, a strong wind began building, quickly changing the nature of the lake. Sudden changes in weather and lake conditions are a frequent hazard on the Great Lakes, contributing to an estimated six to ten thousand shipwrecks and great loss of life in the time since sailing began on the lakes.
The family struggled to maintain control of their boat as Lake Ontario quickly turned treacherous with four to five foot breakers. Their small vessel began to take on water and founder in the unforgiving wind and waves, causing one of the occupants to give the universal MAYDAY call of a vessel in distress.
Knowing the treacherous conditions on the Lake, and without hesitation, Agents Caccamo and Tamayo responded to the distress call, communicating with the boaters as they expressed their concern that their boat would sink in short order. The Canadians’ boat was about one mile from the mouth of the Niagara River on Lake Ontario. Disregarding the perilous conditions, the agents demonstrated exceptional bravery and entered the swells and breakers on their 25-foot government vessel, in a desperate search for the sinking boat and the civilians.
The white-capped waves made the search difficult, however the agents were able to spot the vessel at some distance, and as they approached, they saw that it was in danger of capsizing, the occupants near panic.
Demonstrating superb skill and extreme courage, Agent Caccamo maneuvered the Border Patrol vessel close to the sinking boat, despite the violent pitching of the two vessels in the rolling waves and breakers. At the same time, Agent Tamayo was perilously located on the rear of the pitching Government vessel in order to affect the rescue, in constant danger of being thrown overboard into the violent lake and being crushed between the two vessels. The agents timed the movement of the two vessels and Agent Tamayo was able to pull the three children from the already half-sunken civilian boat, onto the government vessel.
Almost immediately after rescuing the children, the civilian boat began to sink at a greater rate, forcing the agents to maneuver away from its immediate proximity. The adults were forced into the water, and Agent Tamayo threw them a rescue line. One of the adults panicked, and tied the rescue line to his sinking vessel, which threatened to pull the government vessel under the surface of Lake Ontario with it. Reacting quickly, Agent Tamayo cut the rescue line. Agent Caccamo then skillfully maneuvered the government vessel in the treacherous waters so that Agent Tamayo could pull the two adults aboard, just as their boat disappeared below the waves.
Clifford A. Gill - photo, award set
On July 24, 2000, Agent Gill attempted to apprehend a person who had just illegally entered the United States near Laredo, Texas. The person fled, jumped into the flooded Rio Grande and immediately began screaming for help. Facing grave danger and beyond the call of duty, Agent Gill entered the turbulent water. Swimming in his uniform and boots, he approached the victim. Before he could reach the victim, the victim disappeared under the murky water. Agent Gill saw a large air bubble break the surface of the water. Believing the bubble to have come from the victim, Agent Gill dove approximately 5’ below the surface of the water and grabbed the victim. Due to the turbulence and the victim’s struggles, Agent Gill was unable to establish a secure hold on the victim. For the remainder of the rescue, Agent Gill struggled to keep the victim above water, which pushed Agent Gill below the surface. Agent Gill was only able to take gasping breaths as he swam them to shore. Agent Gill’s actions brought great credit upon himself and United States Border Patrol.
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.
William Llonzo “Lon” Parker
Date of Birth: April 26, 1892
Entered on Duty: September 26, 1924
Title: Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: July 25, 1926
Patrol Inspector Lon Parker was killed in a battle with alien liquor smugglers 2 1/2 miles south of Wills Ranch, west of the Huachuca Mountains, in Arizona, on July 25, 1926. Late that afternoon he left camp alone to take up the trail of mounted liquor smugglers. Tracks of a man and a horse had been discovered with evidence that the man had ridden the horse where the terrain was smooth and walked over rough places, indicating that the horse was loaded with liquor or other contraband. Nothing was heard from Inspector Parker until the Wills family returned to their ranch at about 6:00 p.m. the same day, and found him on their wood pile dying from a gunshot wound. He had been shot in the back with a rifle bullet. He died within a few minutes without regaining consciousness. During the investigation, the body of a Mexican was found about 2 1/2 miles from the Wills' home. The Mexican was identified as Artilio Espinosa, a well-known smuggler. Espinosa's horse, with 20 gallons of mescal in cans strapped on his back, was found dead of a bullet wound.
From the tracks in the area and the position of Espinosa and his horse, the investigating officers theorized that Espinosa was accompanied by another smuggler. Officer Parker rode up to Espinosa, covered him with a pistol and was shot by Espinosa's companion, who had been riding at some distance, for the purpose of protecting Espinosa and the liquor. Inspector Parker, though mortally wounded, retained sufficient command of himself to kill Espinosa and his horse, using only one shot for each, and then rode 2 1/2 miles to Wills Ranch, where he collapsed.
Survivor benefits - As per this document, his wife received $52.50 per month.
Eric N. Cabral
Date of Birth: June 27, 1976
Entered on Duty: September 25, 2005
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: July 26, 2007
On July 26, 2007, Border Patrol Agent Eric Cabral suffered a fatal heart attack as the result of heat exposure when he and another agent were tracking a group of illegal aliens north of I-8 near Jacumba, California. He had been separated from his partner when a third agent found him.
Agents initiated CPR and emergency medical services were rendered. Agent Cabral was flown to a hospital in San Diego, where he was pronounced dead. Agent Cabral had served with the Border Patrol for less than two years.
Agustin Aguilar, Jr.
Date of Birth: September 13, 1973
Entered on Duty: April 16, 2001
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: July 25, 2020
Border Patrol Agent Agustin Aguilar Jr. passed away on July 25, 2020. The circumstances of his passing were reviewed by an executive panel and the CBP Commissioner who agreed that this death occurred in the line of duty. Agent Aguilar will be remembered for his diligent service to the nation and for his bravery in the face of danger.
Agent Aguilar served as a canine instructor and handler assigned to the Eagle Pass South Station, Del Rio Sector, Texas. He started his CBP career on April 16, 2001 and served in Eagle Pass and Eagle Pass South for his entire career.
BPA Aguilar was from Lufkin, Texas, and was the eldest of 11 siblings. He was a scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America, and regularly coached Little League Baseball and football. He is survived by his wife, three children, his mother and father and siblings.
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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 Supervisory Border Patrol Agent and retired Immigration Special Agent.
U.S. Border Patrol historian and retired Deputy Chief Patrol Agent.
I prefer that you leave comments. However, if you wish to contact me, please do so by emailing Cliff@HonorFirst.com.