August 7 - August 13
Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
Today we start with a focus on leadership.
!!! Don't Be The A$$hole !!!
That's great leadership advice from Simon Sinek. He has a two-minute video on the subject of "performance and trust" that describes his understanding of how U.S. Navy SEALs make selections for leadership positions in SEAL Team Six. Take a couple of minutes and watch the video here. It will be time well spent. Plus, it will put that shocking opening sentence into context.
Leadership is about people. It's about relationships. As Simon says, "Leadership isn't about being in charge. It's about taking care of those in your charge." If a person in a position of leadership takes care of those in their charge, then employees and the organization can be expected to do well, having high levels of Esprit de Corps. Conversely, if an organization and its employees are suffering, having low levels of Esprit de Corps, then it safely can be assumed that those in positions of leadership are not taking care of those in their charge.
Driving the point home, a reader of This Week in USBP History, who happens to be a retired agent and bona fide Border Patrol hero, shared a true USBP story from years ago... See below, (I edited it for brevity and to conceal identities):
At the beginning of the shift, a supervisor berated an agent in front of twenty of the agent's peers, for a perceived misstep or minor wrongdoing. This public scene lasted for several minutes until the agent asked that the discussion continue in private, but the supervisor would not stop. Reaching his limit, the agent told the supervisor, "If you can't be polite, then <expletive>“, and agent left to work his assigned area.
Subsequently, the supervisor wrote-up the agent and recommended a 3-day suspension. When the CPA received the paperwork, it was the supervisor who received the 3-day suspension. The CPA let it be known that if frivolous or otherwise unfair charges were submitted, that the initiator would receive the very same recommended punishment that they had submitted.
The lesson to be learned from today's focus is - Don't be the a$$hole and protect your workforce from them!
Simon has many other videos and concepts that I think are great. If you wish, visit his YouTube channel here.
This is another great week in USBP history. There's a gunfight in 1929 and rough duty uniforms being authorized in 1934. We have Border Patrol Inspectors being the first Air Marshals in 1961 and recommendations to hold gains from Operation Wetback in 1954. We also celebrate seven Newton-Azrak Award action anniversaries, two of which recognized the heroism of Immigration Officers during the U.S. Embassy bombing in Nairobi in 1998. Remember, of the 185 recipients of the Newton-Azrak Award, 26 were not Border Patrol Agents.
Finally, we remember Border Patrol Agent Manuel A. Alvarez on the anniversary of his death.
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.
I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Joe Banco for allowing me to reference his books in This Week in USBP History. Please consider purchasing his books for a deep dive into USBP History.
Newton-Azrak Award Action Anniversaries
Follow this link to see examples of USBP employees Upholding Honor First.
Robert B. LaBelle
Border Patrol Agent
Peter R. Moran
Border Patrol Agent
Donald A. Peck
Patrol Agent in Charge, Swanton Station
Border Patrol Agent Robert B. LaBelle was recognized for his exceptional courage in rescuing two Canadian residents whose boats had capsized in the midst of one of the most violent summer storms ever experienced in the Lake Champlain region. On August 8, 1983, despite the extremely hazardous and life threatening weather conditions, he, along with Border Patrol Agents Peter Moran and Donald Peck, made numerous attempts before successfully rescuing the victims.
Arthur G. Lopez
Border Patrol Agent
On August 10, 1995, Border Patrol Agent Arthur G. Lopez displayed unusual courage during an incident in which he was critically wounded by gunfire along the U.S./Mexico international boundary.
At approximately 2:00 pm, Agent Lopez proceeded to an area along the border commonly known as Smuggler’s Gulch. He was accompanied by BPA (T) Ronal Wehr and was assigned routine linewatch and patrol duties.
Agents Lopez and Wehr observed activity on the Mexican side of the international boundary fence that appeared to be Mexican police chasing individuals on foot. The Smuggler’s Gulch area is a notoriously known canyon leading into the U.S. from Mexico that empties near the residential and business areas of Nogales, Arizona. It is frequently used by organized criminal groups for the purpose of smuggling undocumented foreign nationals, narcotics, and other contraband. It is also a favorite lair for border bandits who prey on their victims (other illegal aliens) as they cross from Mexico into the U.S.
As Agents Lopez and Wehr arrived at a high point on the U.S. side of the border that overlooks Smuggler’s Gulch, they observed armed, uniformed individuals chasing and shooting at other individuals. The agents saw these uniformed individuals capture two, and then push and kick one of the people they were chasing. Upon discovering that they were being observed by Agents Lopez and Wehr, at least one of the individuals, later identified as Mexican police officers, began shooting at Agents Lopez and Wehr. BPA Lopez was critically wounded while attempting to run toward the steel border fence for cover. Agent Lopez fell to the ground but was able to crawl to the fence. He continued to give clear verbal instruction to BPA (T) Ronald Wehr the entire time. After ensuring the safety of his trainee partner and himself, Agent Lopez proceeded to call for assistance via his hand-held radio. He informed other units that he had been shot and that he was continuing to receive gunfire from the Mexican police. He verbally directed the responding units to his location, advising them when it was clear to approach and the originating point of the assailant’s gunfire.
His calm and composed actions during a very traumatic, critical moment most assuredly contributed to the safety of his partner, the responding units, and likely played a key part in saving his own life, as he was racing the clock against rapid loss of blood. He never lost consciousness, did not panic, and was able to clearly communicate the situation to the benefit of the responding Border Patrol units and other agency units.
James E. Lassiter Jr.
Mr. James E. Lassiter, while on official duty as the Assistant Officer-In-Charge, Nairobi, Kenya, Rome District, Office of International Affairs, courageously saved the life of Foreign Service National employee of the United States Government following the attack of the U.S. Embassy on August 7, 1998.
Mr. Lassiter was in an interior section of the main floor of the Embassy when the explosion occurred. Mr. Lassiter was buried under four feet of concrete bricks and ceiling material. He was in total darkness, pinned to the floor from the waist down, and forced to breathe toxic, smoke-filled air. When the smoke and dust cleared, Mr. Lassiter forcibly extricated himself from the heavy rubble and, although in shock, began climbing over bricks, glass, broken furniture, and mangled security bars towards daylight at the rear of the Embassy.
When Mr. Lassiter reached the INS office and adjacent foreign commercial Service office areas, he could see that all interior walls had been blown down and broken desks and files were piled from two to eight feet deep. Still in shock, he continued to make his way toward the light when he heard a cry for help from a Foreign Service National employee of the Foreign Commercial Service. When Mr. Lassiter found the employee, he had blood streaming from his head and face and his left hand was partially severed at the wrist. Mr. Lassiter assisted him to his feet, put the Kenyan’s arm around his neck, and helped him to reach the back wall. Mr. Lassiter assisted him in climbing onto a high window ledge and then dragged and verbally directed the employee to crawl approximately 15 feet to a place where they could safely exit the building and then assisted him into an ambulance. Despite severely bruised ribs and a smashed lower leg, Mr. Lassiter remained at the scene to assist in further rescue efforts. He gave direction and information to rescue workers and security personnel regarding those individuals who were present on the main floor at the time of the blast, and the layout and condition of the interior of the main floor. The Foreign Service National Employee was evacuated to Germany for medical treatment and has since regained his eyesight and use of his left hand.
Joseph P. Martin
Mr. Joseph P. Martin, Officer-in-Charge, Nairobi, Kenya, Rome District, Office of International Affairs, is recognized for his unusual courage and bravery in his reaction to the terrorist bombing of the United States Embassy in Nairobi on August 7, 1998.
Mr. Martin was in the Embassy at the time of the explosion and was able to exit the building; however, on three occasions, ignoring his own safety, he returned into the building to assist in the rescue operation of other trapped, injured, and deceased Embassy personnel. Mr. Martin assisted in the evacuation of several Embassy personnel, including the wife of his Assistant Officer-in-Charge. Additionally, concerned about the fate of another INS employee, Mr. Martin returned to the INS area of the building in an attempt to locate her. The INS office was one of the hardest hit at the Embassy; however, Mr. Martin climbed a ladder back into the Embassy in an attempt to ensure the employee’s safety.
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent
San Diego Sector
On the morning of August 8, 1998, at approximately 8:05 a.m., a serious injury two-vehicle accident occurred at the intersection of Ballantyne and Main in the city of El Cajon. As a result of the accident, one of the vehicles which was occupied by an adult female driver and a three-year-old passenger, burst into flames.
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Armando Moralez was on duty at the time of the two-vehicle accident. As he came upon the scene, he positioned his vehicle to block the traffic flow to keep other vehicles from becoming involved in the accident scene. Upon observing the fire and that the vehicle was occupied, SBPA Moralez immediately retrieved his fire extinguisher from his Border Patrol vehicle and began attempting to extinguish the fire. During this time, SBPA Moralez and other law enforcement officers exposed themselves to the danger of the fire and possible exploding fuel. SBPA Moralez continued to fight the fire until the rescue of the two victims was complete.
During this stressful emergency, SBPA Moralez exercised great courage and bravery in the pursuit of a worthwhile objective fully knowing that he was placing himself in imminent peril of loss of life or great bodily injury in the line of duty.
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.
Manuel A. Alvarez
Date of Birth October 12, 1978
Entered on Duty: July 13, 2003
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: August 11, 2016
On August 11, 2016, Border Patrol Agent Manuel A. Alvarez was killed in the line of duty near Casa Grande, Arizona. Agent Alvarez was involved in a vehicle accident and died at the scene. He was 37 years old and assigned to the Casa Grande Station.
Agent Alvarez entered on duty July 13, 2003, as a member of U.S. Border Patrol Academy Class 557.
He is survived by his wife, four children, parents and two sisters.
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.