This Week in USBP History, Vol. 62
November 6 - November 12
Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
It is not common knowledge that Acting Secretary John William Abercrombie (1866-1940), authorized the establishment of the Border Patrol on November 12, 1918. However, to me, this great anniversary is overshadowed by a continuing disservice to one of the Patrol's fallen, John Charles Gigax, "Charlie" (1972-1999). Let me describe the situation...
Charlie's is not recognized as officially fallen by Customs and Border Protection or the U.S. Border Patrol.
However, he is remembered by all except his own agency with his name being inscribed on the:
Here's a little background... Charlie was a Border Patrol Agent that was assigned to the Laredo North Station but was detailed to headquarters in Washington D.C. Charlie's family lived in Jacksonville, Florida. On Sunday, November 7, 1999, he was driving a government vehicle returning from a visit with them. At approximately 10 PM, he was involved in a fatal car accident while traveling north on I-95, near mile-marker 96 in the State of Virginia.
After Charlie's death, Laredo Chief Patrol Agent John W. Montoya initiated the paperwork to have Charlie's name inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial. Following the examples of Border Patrol Agent (trainee) Thomas K. Byrd, and Border Patrol Agents Jesus De La Ossa and Thomas J. Williams, whose deaths were considered in the line of duty by the USBP, Chief Montoya listed Charlie's death as in the line of duty.
When Charlie was laid to rest in a cemetery in Jacksonville, Florida, the Patrol had yet to develop an Honor Guard. There was very little if anything done for him and his family by way of a formal ceremony.
A year and a half after Charlie's death, another Laredo North agent who was also from Jacksonville, was killed in the line of duty, Jason Panides (1974-2001). By the time of Jason's death, the USBP had developed a robust Honor Guard with an incredible formal ceremony for honoring the fallen.
I was part of the Honor Guard that went to Jacksonville for Jason’s funeral in April of 2001. The Gigax family was there to support Jason's family.
After Jason's funeral, Charlie's father, Don Gigax (1950-2016) commented that a similar ceremony had never been conducted for his son. Further, we were surprised to find that Jason was buried only about 100’ from Charlie. See the full-sized photo, where Jason's tombstone can be seen in the background with Charlie's in front.
The Laredo Sector Honor Guard asked the Gigax family to wait until Jason's family had left the cemetery. Then the Laredo team reformed and conducted an impromptu ceremony for Charlie and his family include a flag folding, 21-gun salute, taps, and Amazing Grace by the sector pipe band.
In 2004, I was promoted to the Laredo North Station where a young agent with the name Gene Gigax had recently began his career. It turned out that he was Charlie's younger brother and was present at that impromptu ceremony in Jacksonville. It was incredible that he was assigned to the same station as his brother Charlie which was also Jason's station. I was Gene's supervisor for a year and he was a great agent!
Years later, Gene would leave the Patrol to work as a Customs and Border Protection Officer, and we happened to touch bases. During our conversation he shared that he was curious why everyone other than the Border Patrol recognized the death and loss of his brother. I could not provide an answer to him so I told him to contact AskHQ. AskHQ is a defunct, internal CBP mechanism by which questions could be asked and answered by headquarters. Below is Gene’s AskHQ submission from May 22, 2013 (OBP = Office of Border Patrol);
On June 14th HQ gave the final response which in part stated;
That is a substandard response to a family member to justify why Border Patrol Agent John Charles Gigax is recognized as fallen by every organization except his own! Further, the distinction between "on duty" and "in the line of duty" deaths would not be defined until years after Charlies death.
I have the form that was submitted by Laredo Sector to the National Law Enforcement Memorial on August 28, 2001. John Charles Gigax’s death met the approval process of the National Law Enforcement Memorial. His death certificate is part of the packet. His cause of death after an autopsy was soot and smoke inhalation caused from an automobile accident. His cause of death is accidental (not suicide) and no substances (drug or alcohol) were found in his blood. Further, his death was labeled "line-of-duty" in many sources, including documents submitted by the USBP, a CBP webpage and even Congressional records.
In 2003, CBP published a webpage that stated in part:
A 2008 Congressional record states:
Every Police Week for 15 years, Don (1950-2016) and Margarita Gigax (Charlie's parents) would come to D.C. The Border Patrol never read their son’s name with the Patrol's other fallen which was painfully obvious to them. Even though all other survivor organizations gave full honors to their son, officially, the Patrol never did... And still doesn't...
Organizationally, the Border Patrol and the INS “turned on” the switch to memorialize Charlie by having his name put on the National Law Enforcement Memorial, and by referring to his death as “in the line of duty”. Charlie needs to be added to the Patrol's list of the fallen. Hopefully, this newsletter provides the kindling for the Patrol to right that decades-long wrong.
This week is a bit light on documents, but what we have is pretty significant! We see a 1918 document that authorized the establishment of the Patrol! We also see a 1924 photograph of El Paso Sub-district Border Patrol Inspectors introducing a prototype uniform a month before the policy would be approved.
We do not have any Newton-Azrak Award action anniversaries. However, I am highlighting retired Senior Patrol Agent Theo D. Hudson being presented the Newton-Azrak Award in 1992. Many times, the award is associated with acts of heroism and valor. However, 1973-2003 it could also be awarded for:
Thoe's award was given for his incredible law enforcement contributions. I have recently been in contact with him and his wife. I hope to be able to provide additional information in the coming weeks.
There is only one USBP Fallen anniversary this week, Border Patrol Agent John Charles Gigax, November 7, 1999.
Enjoy the blog and 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 Newton-Azrak Award action anniversaries this week. However, numbers Newton-Azrak Award recipients do not have a date associated with their actions. Such is the case with Senior Patrol Agent Theo D. Hudson, who is highlighted this week.
I have recently been in contact with Theo and his wife. I hope to be able to enrich HonorFirst.com with documents and photographs better detailing his significant contributions to USBP history.
Theo D. Hudson
Senior Patrol Agent
Senior Patrol Agent Theo D. Hudson designed and developed a “situation board” for tracking and documenting narcotic and undocumented alien entries into the United States. This system has been directly linked to the detection of three major air smuggling routes through southeastern Arizona, the seizure of numerous tons of marijuana, and the apprehension of hundreds of undocumented aliens and their smugglers.
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.
John Charles Gigax
Date of Birth: June 1, 1972
Entered on Duty: March 17, 1997
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: November 7, 1999
Border Patrol Agent John Gigax was killed in an automobile crash while he was travelling from a temporary assignment in Washington, DC.
Agent Gigax, who was stationed in Laredo, Texas, was driving on I-95, near Doswell, when his department Jeep Cherokee veered off the road and struck the rear of a car carrier parked on the shoulder in Hanover County, Virginia. The Jeep's momentum caused it go over the cab of truck, landing head-first on the pavement. The Jeep broke apart upon impact with the ground, killing Agent Gigax instantly.
Agent Gigax had served with the United States Border Patrol for three years. He was survived by his wife and parents.
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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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