This Week in USBP History, Vol. 66
December 4 - December 10
Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
Just this week I shared with fellow Border Patrol Historian, Joe Banco, the feeling of melancholy I sometimes experience as I spend so much time with so many that have been gone for so long. Every week, I reread every document that I reference in the Documents/Events section of the newsletter. Every time that I mention a name of a person who has died, I research and attempt to find their gravestone and give a link in their years of life. Sometimes, it's quite an investment of time to find and confirm their gravesites. I commonly find myself thinking that I'm the only person on the planet that is thinking of that person.
Relatedly, I was recently having a conversation with my wife about the recent loss of her mother and the death of my great-grandmother many years ago. We agreed that I was the last generation in my family that would remember my great-grandmother and my wife's children would be the last generation that would remember her mother. After those generations are gone, they'll only be remembered as an image in photographs, or names written in documents or on grave markers. Our conversation led to who might be the last to remember us. Quite a sobering thought of our mortality.
Back to USBP history, I tend to concentrate on official documents. That's what is found in National Archives. They comprise the official history of the Patrol. But since I've been authoring these emails, I've received incredible stories from Ron Colburn, Joe Banco, John Burgmeier and others. Stories of big personalities, heroism, tragedies, and humanity. Some have been funny or sad, but all are the building blocks that create the foundation of Patrol's culture.
Embarrassingly, I have missed the organizational importance of the stories of the individual as I have presented USBP history.
All of us have so many incredible experiences that may never see the light of day. Many of them may involve acts of heroism or the terror of being shot at. Some may be stories of humanity, or the lack thereof. Maybe great law enforcement actions, big personalities or whatever... We've heard of people wanting to collect PA stories to write a book, but it never seems to happen...
Well, it turns out that Ray and I have a website. Now, I've tried to highlight the good works of the workforce with the pages of Upholding Honor First. And now I have built another section of the site devoted true PA stories, Border Patrol Stories. There are a few stories there and I hope that you'll email me some more so that they and the individuals that lived them aren't lost in time.
I know that we have to protect the identities of the innocent, so the author can be anonymous and names changed, but I'd like to keep the sectors and years accurate. I see this as a way to preserve soul of the Patrol.
If you have something to share, please email me the story at email@example.com. I can even put photos in them.
This week starts BIG! The first document is General Order 42 from 1924, the Patrol's first uniform policy! We have three gunfights from the late 1920's from El Paso (they seemed to be the only sub-district reporting shootings). We end in 1998 with the approval of the USBP flag.
There are no Newton-Azrak Award action anniversaries for the week, so I'll present you a mystery. Border Patrol Agent Carlos Martinez is listed as having been a recipient from 1993 while he was assigned to San Diego Sector. That is the extent of the information that I have on his action and I have exhausted my sources. I have records that show "Carlos Martinez" being a member of Class 231 in 1988-1989. If any of you have additional information, I'd love to receive it!
We also remember two of our fallen on the anniversaries of their 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.
There are no Newton-Azrak Award action anniversaries for the week.
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.
Doyne C. Melton
Date of Birth: January 17, 1902
Entered on Duty: October 29, 1927
Title: Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: December 7, 1933
Patrol Inspector Doyne C. Melton was shot and killed in a battle with Mexican smugglers at El Paso, on December 7, 1933. Six Patrol Inspectors were moving up in the darkness on seventeen Mexican smugglers who were wading across the river with packs of liquor. One of three smugglers acting as spotters who had preceded the main body of the smugglers over the river, concealed beneath a platform on the American side, opened hostilities by shooting Inspector Melton. The opening shot was fired without warning and before any challenge had been given. Inspector Melton was shot through the heart, dying instantly. The bitterness of the fight was evidenced by the fact that in addition to the slaying of Inspector Melton, four smugglers were killed and another was wounded.
Survivor benefits - As per this document, his wife received $54.25 per month.
James G. Burns
Date of Birth: July 31, 1924
Entered on Duty: June 8, 1955
Title: Senior Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: December 8, 1968
Official reports covering the death of Senior Patrol Inspector James G. Burns indicated he was performing line watch operations, looking for evidence of illegal aliens in a river bottom near Calexico, California, on Sunday, December 8, 1968. He was searching places of concealment in heavy undergrowth, which was exceptionally strenuous activity and required considerable physical exertion. At 6:30 a.m., he began to suffer pains in the chest area, which prompted him to immediately return to the office. He was taken home by another officer and was then conveyed to the El Centro Community Hospital by his wife. He passed away at 8:25 a.m., less than two hours after being stricken. Death was caused by an occlusion of the left coronary artery due to arteriosclerosis.
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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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