This Week in USBP History, Vol. 51
August 21 - August 27
Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
Every Sunday, I try highlight something that resonates with me and that I hope does with you too. This week I was inspired by an Instagram post from the Laredo Sector where approximately twenty-five employees received a USBP Honorary Award. This is a subject of which I am very passionate. People who know me might caution you about asking me anything about employee recognition, knowing I never give the short answer on the subject! So, trying to be interesting and informative, I will keep this highlight as brief as I am able.
History of the USBP Honorary Awards
On August 8, 2002, the Border Patrol implemented its awards/medals program with the presentation of the first two medals.
Assistant Chief William V. Beaumet, was originally assigned the awards/medals program and designed the medals and ribbons in collaboration with the U.S. Army’s Institute of Heraldry. When Chief Beaumet transferred to the Border Patrol Academy as the Deputy Chief Patrol Agent, the awards/medals program was assigned to Assistant Chief Randy Gallegos. Assistant Chief Gallegos continued with the procurement of the first medals. In June of 2002, the program was again reassigned, this time to Assistant Chief Dan Harris.
Although many awards were created and proposed, most were not implemented. By 2004, the Chief’s Commendation Medal fell into disuse after only having been awarded once leaving only the Newton-Azrak Award and Purple Cross medal sets were presented to employees. In 2008, the USBP de-authorized the the wearing of the USBP 75th Anniversary Award.
In 2018, I was an Assistant Chief at HQ and was able to built on the foundation that began with Chief Beaumet and drafted the policy for the USBP Honorary Awards Program. Under the program, the USBP 75th Anniversary Award was reauthorized for wear and two of the earlier awards designed by the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry were repurposed for use.
Today, USBP Honorary Awards are still presented but in numbers far less than intended and far less than necessary to have a meaningful impact for the workforce. In Chief Provost's cover memo introducing the USBP Honorary Awards policy, she indicated the target amount of recipients per year by stating, "Headquarters will provide sectors with sufficient [USBP Achievement] awards sets to recognize approximately 10% of the workforce per year."
By the time I had retired in 2020, all sectors had received enough USBP Achievement Award medal sets to recognize nearly 25% of their workforce. Even with such an abundance of awards, sectors such as El Centro, Ramey, Tucson and the Special Operations Group hadn't recognized even 1% of their workforce with the awards that were readily available in their storage closets. I am told that Chief Patrol Agents and other supervisory personnel have attempted to maintain the prestige of the award but their efforts have been contrary to guidance and criteria, and to the detriment of the workforce. Take a look at the USBP Achievement Award's criteria:
As a good rule of thumb, Chief Patrol Agents and other supervisory personnel contemplating recognizing their employees should simply follow the guidance and perhaps ask themselves, "Is a coffee mug appropriate for this achievement or act of heroism?" If the answer is "no", then the employee should receive, at a minimum, a USBP Achievement Medal. Stated in another way, USBP Achievement Medals are not Medals of Honor. They are the lowest formal recognition that the USBP may present for acts of heroism, valor, achievement and service. They were designed to be given generously to recognize 10% of the workforce per year. They are awarded to both individuals and as group awards (the USBP does not have unit awards).
Ending on a positive note, I have been told that Chief of the Border Patrol Raul Ortiz has reconsidered his position where he blocked recognitions for 370 USBP employees. Assuming that is true, I commend him for having the strength to change his decision, and for providing an example of valuing the workforce that should be emulated in the sectors.
As a final thought, Chief Beaumet never received recognition for his efforts that have benefited so many. I sure would like to see his name added to the list of 370 that I hope are pending recognition. I think his actions easily warrant a USBP Commendation Medal.
This week's documents start in 1921 when the Departments of Agriculture and Treasury did not concur with a plan to consolidate all federal law enforcement activities under a single administrator. We have Jacksonville District shooting scores from 1931, Nogales fencing request in 1935, and 1942 is brought to us compliments of Joe Banco. Finally, the Border Patrol Choir Practice forum turns 24-years old!
There are no known Newton-Azrak Award anniversaries this week. However, I do highlight two recipients whose date of action is unknown.
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.
There are no know Newton-Azrak Award action anniversaries for this week. However, there are several actions that do not have a specific date. This week, I will highlight two from 1987.
Lee R. Prejean
Criminal Investigator Lee R. Prejean conducted undercover activities as part of Operation Castoron, which commenced as a marriage fraud investigation and grew into a visa fraud, smuggling, gunrunning, narcotics and terrorist investigation. Through his devoted and selfless efforts, he was able to infiltrate the large-scale conspiracy organization posing as a corrupt immigration officer. During the period of his undercover activities, he held hundreds of consensually monitored conversations, both telephonic and in person, with criminal elements involved in the investigation. He received pay-offs for alleged misconduct on his part, and was able to elicit the support and fidelity of the criminal principals in the case to such an extent that much valuable information was supplied to him willingly by these individuals which, in effect, led to the successful conclusion of this investigation. His involvement was so thorough that he placed a separate telephone and answering machine in his home in order that he might be available to the principals at any time.
Mr. Prejean demonstrated unusual courage and competence while in the line of duty and under very trying circumstances.
George E. Evancheck - award statuette, notification letter
Border Patrol Agent
Del Rio, Texas
No description available.
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.
There are no line-of-duty death anniversaries this week.
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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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I prefer that you leave comments. However, if you wish to contact me, please do so by emailing Cliff@HonorFirst.com.