Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
I started authoring these newsletters/blogs as an email in September 2021. The emails were clunky and formatting issues were common. Most of the recipients had not asked to be on the list, meaning I was sending out unsolicited emails (spam!?!). But I knew I had all of this great information that I thought people would like to receive and I was trying to share it with people that I thought wanted to receive it and could put it to good use.
In April 2022, I paid the website/email provider extra to be able to format the emails as a newsletter, what you're viewing right now. Before, I had been limited to 100 recipients per email and the formatting struggles had become tiresome. Surprisingly, under the new system, the provider had a requirement that all recipients must request or agree to receive these newsletters, an instruction the I follow seriously and think is good (I'm not a spammer). I only want to send these to people who want to receive them. With the new capability, I can send the newsletters to up to 500 people (there are less than 250 people on the list right now).
As I've written before, I author these newsletters and help maintain HonorFirst.com because I have the perception that I'm making a difference for the current and former workforce. I think of myself as an advocate for the Patrol and the workforce and this is one of the ways for me to contribute.
I started writing these intro pieces several months ago with the intention of improving organizational pride and employee morale by influencing and/or inspiring current USBP leadership to act: to define and drive culture, and to focus on the workforce. My approach has been to highlight a problem and to provide a solution.
- Last week was a great example, Border Patrol Agent John "Charlie" Gigax's death is honored by the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial (here) but not by the U.S. Border Patrol. To my surprise and disappointment, neither the Border Patrol Foundation nor the Border Patrol Museum list Charlie in their memorials. Unsatisfactory! If Charlie's death met the criteria for inclusion on the National Law Enforcement Memorial, certainly his death should be honored by organizations with the words "Border Patrol" as part of their titles!
I do not know how successful or influential these newsletters have been or are. Even though he didn't say, I like to think that Chief Ortiz reversed his prohibition of recognizing the worthy past acts of USBP employees due in part to these newsletters, and my postings on Instagram and Twitter (also see this newsletter).
Unfortunately, very few USBP personnel in leadership positions have asked to receive these newsletters. Sadly, no Senior Executives or GS-15's at HQ have asked or are on the list... That means that those in significant positions of influence are unaware of the information and suggestions that have been shared here. People like:
- Chief of the Border Patrol Raul Ortiz
- Deputy Chief of the Border Patrol Matthew Hudak
- Executive Director of the Mission Support Directorate Kathleen Scudder
- Associate Chief Joshua Hitchcock, Resiliency Division
- Associate Chief Ivan Ramirez, Recruiting Division
- Associate Chief Teresa Pedregon, Training and Agent Support Division
- Director Michael Rosamond, Workforce Management Division
Those aforementioned folks sit in key positions for formulating decisions and policies over nearly every subject I've covered. None of them receive this newsletter. They are able to provide solutions to the Patrol's woes, driving beneficial change throughout the organization. Or, those are the people who are the proverbial "They" when referring to who is responsible when things go bad in the Patrol.
Now, I do know that many of you are far more connected and influential than me. So, if I should happen to write something that you think would benefit the workforce, please forward it to someone who can do good for the Patrol! Maybe, one of those folks above?
Remember, morale is based not on fact, but on employee perceptions. Where do you think the USBP workforce is right now? I found the 3-minute video below to be very insightful
We do not have any Newton-Azrak Award action anniversaries. However, I am highlighting retired Border Patrol Agent Lazaro Alvarez, who was recognized with the Newton-Azrak Award in 1993.
We also remember four of our fallen on the anniversaries of their deaths.
Enjoy the blog and have a great week!
- As an open and continuous invitation to current and former USBP employees, I am always accepting photos to post in the USBP Photo Galleries and in the Upholding Honor First pages. I sure would appreciate you visiting those pages and sending me anything that you think I could post (just send them to email@example.com).
- As always, make sure to explore all of the hyperlinks to documents and pages.
- Finally, please forward this blog to whomever you think may enjoy it.
Two items I want to mention from last week:
- John Charles Gigax's death was the subject of last week's newsletter into. Although all organizations such as the National Law Enforcement Memorial honor his death, the USBP does not.
- I have been in contact with Theo Dwayne Hudson's daughter and have been able to update his Newton-Azrak Award entry:
Theo D. Hudson - nomination memo, 1992 commissioner's awards pamphlet
Senior Patrol Agent
Presented on March 19, 1992, to Senior Border Patrol Agent Theo D, Hudson for his outstanding and innovative contributions to the Intelligence Program in the Tucson Sector of the United States Border Patrol. His innovations have greatly enhanced the law enforcement efforts of this Sector in combatting narcotic and undocumented alien smuggling. During the period April 1, 1990 to March 31, 1991, while assigned to duties as Intelligence Agent, Theo D, Hudson designed and developed a "situation board" for tracking and documenting narcotic and undocumented alien entries into the United States which successfully evaded our apprehension. This system now enables the Tucson Sector to identify the trends, patterns and methods used by smugglers to avoid detection. It has been directly linked to the detection of three (3) 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. Smugglers are now forced to resort to more radical and unconventional methods of smuggling, such as the recently discovered "Cocaine Tunnel" in Douglas, Arizona. Due to the proven value of this system of intelligence gathering in the Tucson Sector, Agent Hudson's system is currently being considered for service wide implementation.
The workplace climate resulting from a combination of organizational pride and employee morale.
- Organizational pride is the positive feeling experienced by employees from being part of a meaningful team that is rich in history, tradition and culture.
- Employee morale is the feeling experienced by employee based in part on their perception of:
- Being valued by the organization,
- Fairly compensated, and
- Performing meaningful work.
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.
- On November 16, 1905, Jefferson Davis Milton (1861-1947) was permanently appointed as a Chinese Inspector by the Assistant Secretary of Labor (his original appointment was in 1904).
- It should be noted that as per documents that supported Jeff Milton's retirement in 1932, he was neither a Border Patrol Inspector nor a member of the Border Patrol. It is believed that he was a well-known law enforcement officer in the El Paso District, which encompasses modern day Tucson, El Paso and Big Bend Sectors. It is thought that the leaders of the newly formed Border Patrol used Jeff Milton's rugged independence as an example for new inspectors to follow. This led to him mistakenly being considered the first Border Patrol Inspector.
- On November 14, 1918, George Harris (1876-1941), who would serve two non-consecutive terms as "Chief" of the Border Patrol", wrote a memo to the Commissioner-General stating that officers to should have greater discretion concerning pursuing criminal charges against those who violated the Passport Act and regulations.
- Interestingly, his signature block lists him as the "Acting Supervising Inspector" of the Mexican Border District, a position held permanently by Frank Berkshire, the Father of the Border Patrol and the third person to have been Chief of the Border Patrol.
- On November 18, 1928, officers assigned to the Norwich University, Vermont wrote a letter to William W. Husband (1871-1942) who was formerly the Commissioner-General of Immigration and the current Assistant Secretary of the Department of Labor. The letter mentions a "Spanish book used by inspectors at Texas border", which indicates early an initiative to train USBP employees.
- On November 18, 1928, Border Patrol Inspector Ivan Scotten (1903-1929) was involved in a brief gunfight in El Paso, Texas. This document provides a brief description of the shooting.
- Inspector Scotten would be killed (shot) in the line of duty about 8 months later on July 20, 1929. Please see this historic photograph of the scene of the shooting where Scotten fell.
- On November 19, 1929, El Paso District Director Grover Wilmoth (1884-1951) issued a warning to all employees concerning "...useless and harmful talk...". This warning covered modern-day Tucson, El Paso and Big Bend Sectors. It warned of recommendations for a "drastic punishment" and "no leniency" for violations!
- On November 29, 1930, District Director Thomas V. Kirk (1862-1947) of the Jacksonville District, sent a manpower report to the Commissioner-General. The report shows the Border Patrol strength and locations in the district. The district had three sub-districts (sectors), Jacksonville, Miami, and Tampa.
- On November 18, 1937, a windbreaker jacket was authorized for wear.
- On November 13, 1940, the Los Angeles District Director sent a memorandum to the Central Office re questing new construction for the Chula Vista and El Centro Sub-districts (to build new sub-district HQ's).
- On November 15, 1956, what is believed to be the USBP's 4th uniform policy was enacted. It is believed that another policy which has never been located was issued in the 1940s. The policy included:
- Making it mandatory to have both official and rough duty uniforms
- Authorizing the overseas cap for pilots
- Authorizing the wear of Military ribbons
- Making shoulder ornaments a symbol of rank
- Gold – Chief Patrol Inspectors
- Silver – Assistant Chief Patrol Inspectors
- Oxidized – Senior Patrol Inspectors
- Eisenhower Jackets authorized for all until 1958, then only for pilots. Must be buttoned. This is also the earliest reference to the jacket so far located.
- On November 18, 2000, a six-foot brick memorial was dedicated on California Highway 79 near Oak Grove in northern San Diego County, approximately 20 miles south of Temecula at the site of the abduction of Border Patrol Inspectors Theodore L. Newton, Jr., and George F. Azrak. The monument serves as an eternal reminder of the tragedy that occurred on July 17, 1967. The memorial was initiated, planned, and carried out by U.S. Border Patrol Explorer Post #5150 and their advisors with generous donations from current and retired members of the U.S. Border Patrol and their supporters.
- From - HONOR FIRST: The Story of the United States Border Patrol - Volume II by Joseph Banco
Follow this link to see examples of USBP employees Upholding Honor First.
- An organization’s values are codified in its awards system. Recognizing the achievements, service and heroism of employees is important. It is critical for those in positions of leadership to value the workforce. Awards are a fundamental manner for leaders to demonstrate appreciation to the workforce for upholding the organizational values. – U.S. Border Patrol Honorary Awards
I am attempting to locate him so that I may be able to enrich HonorFirst.com with documents and photographs better detailing his significant contributions to USBP history.
Border Patrol Agent
In 1993, while off duty and at home, Border Patrol Agent Lazaro Alvarez heard a loud explosion at the Wagon Wheel Mobile Home Park across from his residence. Agent Alvarez quickly responded and assisted three burned, elderly people get away from the burning building. He then learned that another elderly woman was trapped underneath the collapsed building. Agent Alvarez quickly gathered help to assist him with removing debris until he was able to extract her from the burning site and carry her to safety. Agent Alvarez continued rendering first aid to other injured residents until emergency medical technicians arrived.
As of May 16, 2022, the U.S. Border Patrol has suffered 152* fallen.
- 3 Mounted Watchmen fell before 1924 and are carried as Border Patrol fallen
- 48 Border Patrol Inspectors fell between 1924 and 1970
- 100 Border Patrol Agents have fallen since 1970
- 1 Enforcement Analysis Specialist
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.
- Joe R. White - He is recognized as officially fallen by the U.S. Border Patrol but his name is not inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial.
- John Charles Gigax - He is not recognized as officially fallen by Customs and Border Protection or the U.S. Border Patrol. He is remembered by all except his own agency with his name is inscribed on the:
Ned D. Henderson
Date of Birth: December 19, 1905
Entered on Duty: December 26, 1929
Title: Autogiro Pilot
End of Watch: November 18, 1945
Ned D. Henderson, Autogiro Pilot, died on November 18, 1945, from injuries he received two days earlier when the autogiro he was piloting crashed near Sullivan City, Texas. Pilot Henderson was enroute to his official station at McAllen, Texas, following a detail to San Antonio. He was alone in the plane when it crashed at about 1:00 p.m., November 16, 1945.
A witness to the accident, Mr. Francisco Flores, stated that he noticed the aircraft coming from the west just before or about the time it hit an electric highline. The autogiro hit the ground and turned over about two times before it came to rest. Mr. Flores stopped his truck and ran over to the aircraft. He rushed over to Pilot Henderson, who was rolling on the ground just outside of the autogiro, his clothes and gloves on fire. Mr. Flores extinguished the flames and then improvised a shade from a blanket he had in his truck. Pilot Henderson was later removed to the McAllen Municipal Hospital by ambulance.
A physician's certificate indicates that Pilot Henderson suffered extensive burns about the face, neck, arms and legs; fracture of the right arm below the shoulder; and a deep cut across the forehead and right cheek. Death occurred at 1:30 a.m., November 18, 1945, about 36 hours after the accident.
James M. Kirchner
Date of Birth: December 15, 1931
Entered on Duty: November 3, 1954
Title: Patrol Inspector (Trainee)
End of Watch: November 15, 1954
While waiting to attend a training session at the Border Patrol Academy that was scheduled to commence in December, Trainee Kirchner and other new appointees were assigned to work with older and more experienced officers in and around El Paso.
On November 15, 1954, Trainee Kirchner was assigned to work the 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. with Inspector Dove. Trainee Kirchner saw three persons coming from the direction of Mexico. The persons were up in the hills and estimated to be about 1/2 mile away. Inspector Dove and Trainee Kirchner proceeded on foot, separating. Inspector Dove intercepted the suspects and determined that they were of Mexican extraction and citizens of the United States. Trainee Kirchner was observed near the top of the hill and instructed, through hand signals, to return. During the descent, Trainee Kirchner was out of the view of Inspector Dove. When Trainee Kirchner did not return in a reasonable time and did not respond to being called, Inspector Dove began searching for him. Trainee Kirchner was found slumped to the ground, face forward. After a hurried examination, Inspector Dove applied artificial respiration in an effort to revive Trainee Kirchner but was unsuccessful. Leaving one of the citizens with the body. Inspector Dove went to the McNutt Oil Refinery and called Border Patrol Headquarters. He then returned to the scene and waited until Trainee Kirchner's body was removed.
Date of Birth November 7, 1972
Entered on Duty: February 12, 1996
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: November 16, 2016
On November 15, 2016, Agent Gomez suffered a heart attack while on bicycle patrol duty near El Paso, Texas. He subsequently passed away at a local hospital on November 16, 2016.
Border Patrol Agent Gomez was assigned to the El Paso Station of the El Paso Sector. He entered on duty on February 12, 1996, as a member of Border Patrol Academy Class 299.
He is survived by his wife, three children and parents.
Date of Birth January 15, 1981
Entered on Duty: August 12, 2013
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: November 19, 2017
On November 18, 2017, Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez was patrolling along Interstate 10 in a remote area outside of Van Horn, Texas, when fellow agents were alerted that he and another agent were in distress. When fellow agents located Agent Martinez, he was unresponsive and severely injured. Agent Martinez was taken to the local hospital in Van Horn and later transported to a medical center in El Paso, Texas, where he succumbed to his injuries on November 19, 2017.
Agent Martinez entered on duty with the U.S. Border Patrol on August 12, 2013, as a member of the 1018th session of the Border Patrol Academy, and he was assigned to the Van Horn Station in the Big Bend Sector. Agent Martinez served with the United States Border Patrol for over 4 years.