July 30 - August 5
Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
The Fraternal Order of Retired Border Patrol Officers (FORBPO):
A Community of Shared Experiences
Today, I want to introduce you to a remarkable organization that serves as a beacon of camaraderie and support for those who have served in the U.S. Border Patrol. The Fraternal Order of Retired Border Patrol Officers is a unique fraternity that brings together individuals who have shared the experience of serving in the Border Patrol, whether as an inspector, agent, or spouse.
What is FORBPO?
The Fraternal Order of Retired Border Patrol Officers (FORBPO) is an organization that brings together individuals who share a common past experience with the Border Patrol. This includes inspectors, agents, and even spouses. The organization boasts a membership of over 1,500 individuals, all of whom have a connection to the Border Patrol.
FORBPO is primarily a fraternal organization, meaning its main purpose is to provide a platform for members to socialize and enjoy being together. The shared experience of having been part of the Border Patrol forms a strong bond among members, creating a sense of camaraderie and mutual understanding.
The organization also hosts an annual conference, providing an opportunity for members to renew and continue the associations of earlier years. The conference is a key event in the FORBPO calendar, with the theme invariably being "fellowship".
FORBPO also maintains a strong online presence, with a website that provides a platform for members to check their dues status, change their mailing address, and view the membership roster. The site contains tons of stories (Recuerdos) written by members and many interesting photographs. The organization also has a presence on Facebook, providing another avenue for members to connect and interact.
In addition to its social functions, FORBPO also plays a role in keeping members informed about legislative activities of concern to the membership of the organization, and to the Border Patrol and its mission and employees.
Who Can Join?
FORBPO welcomes a diverse range of members, each with a unique connection to the U.S. Border Patrol. Membership is open to several categories of individuals, each with its own set of criteria and associated costs:
FORBPO also offers additional dues options for regular members in good standing. A member can pay six years of annual dues for $200.00. A life dues paid membership is available for members who have been in good standing for the previous five consecutive years. The life dues payment is a single dues payment calculated using a specific formula.
It's important to note that active Border Patrol Agents are eligible to join FORBPO as Initial Members. This provides an excellent opportunity for those currently serving to connect with a community of retired agents, gain access to a wealth of experience and knowledge, and begin forming the relationships that will support them when they eventually retire.
Visit the FORBPO Join page to become a member.
Benefits of Membership
Membership in FORBPO offers a multitude of benefits that cater to the needs and interests of its members. Here are some of the key benefits:
Remember, membership is open to retired Border Patrol Officers, active Border Patrol Agents with at least 3 years of service, and others who have a professional relationship with the Border Patrol.
FORBPO and the U.S. Border Patrol
FORBPO is an organization deeply rooted in the history and experiences of the U.S. Border Patrol. The majority of its members are retired Border Patrol Inspectors or Agents. The organization was born out of a desire to preserve the unique spirit, loyalties, and friendships that were formed during their service.
FORBPO is not just a gathering of former colleagues; it is a community that continues to uphold the values and principles they stood for during their active service years. The Border Patrol, for many of these members, was where it all began - on the river banks, sand hills, or snowdrifts in the middle of nowhere. It was in these challenging environments that deep and lasting friendships were formed, friendships that the FORBPO now aims to preserve and strengthen.
The organization is not officially affiliated with the U.S. Border Patrol, but the shared experiences and common history create a strong bond. The members of FORBPO carry with them the spirit of service, dedication, and camaraderie that is characteristic of the Border Patrol. This connection is reflected in the activities and initiatives of FORBPO, which often align with the interests and concerns of the Border Patrol community.
FORBPO and the Border Patrol Museum
FORBPO and the National Border Patrol Museum share a deeply intertwined history. The vision for the museum was conceived during the establishment of the FORBPO in 1978. The founding members of FORBPO not only sought to create an organization that would support retired Border Patrol officers, but they also envisioned a museum that would preserve and display the rich history and artifacts of the Border Patrol.
The FORBPO members approved the creation of the National Border Patrol Museum in 1979, and the collection of artifacts began. The museum was officially incorporated as a tax-exempt entity in 1980 by the Secretary of State for the State of Texas. The museum opened its doors to the public in 1985 in downtown El Paso, Texas. After a brief closure due to a dispute with the landlord, the museum reopened in a new location in 1994, thanks to the support and generosity of FORBPO members and other contributors.
Today, the National Border Patrol Museum stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of the Border Patrol. It serves as a repository for memorabilia and memories of over 80 years of Border Patrol history. The museum operates without charging an admission fee and is maintained through donations and the tireless efforts of volunteers, many of whom are FORBPO members.
The relationship between the FORBPO and the National Border Patrol Museum is a testament to the commitment of retired Border Patrol officers to preserve the legacy of their service. The museum not only serves as a historical archive but also as a symbol of the enduring bond among Border Patrol officers, both retired and active.
For more information about the National Border Patrol Museum and its history, you can visit their official website.
FORBPO and the Border Patrol Foundation
FORBPO and the Border Patrol Foundation (BPF) have established a significant partnership aimed at providing support to the families of fallen agents and fostering educational opportunities for members of the Border Patrol community.
The FORBPO and BPF partnership is a testament to the shared commitment of both organizations to honor and support the Border Patrol family. This alliance is marked by two key initiatives: the Fallen Agents Support Program and the FORBPO Scholarship Award.
Fallen Agents Support Program
In the unfortunate event of the loss of a Border Patrol agent, the families often face immediate financial needs. The FORBPO, in partnership with the BPF, provides donations to these families, offering critical support in their time of need. This initiative is a reflection of FORBPO's commitment to stand by the families of our fallen heroes.
FORBPO Scholarship Award
Education is a powerful tool for personal and professional growth. Recognizing this, the FORBPO, in collaboration with the BPF, has established the FORBPO Scholarship Award. This initiative aims to provide access to postsecondary education for members of the Border Patrol community who might not have the financial means to fulfill their educational goals. This scholarship is an addition to the existing BPF scholarship program, allowing for more scholarships to be given out annually.
The partnership between FORBPO and BPF is a testament to the power of collaboration in serving the Border Patrol community. Both organizations look forward to the important work they will be doing together as they continue to honor and support Border Patrol families.
For more information about this partnership and the initiatives it supports, you can visit the FORBPO and BPF websites.
The Fraternal Order of Retired Border Patrol Officers is more than just an organization; it's a community that fosters fellowship, supports its members, and upholds the legacy of the U.S. Border Patrol. Whether you're a retired officer, an active agent, or someone with a professional relationship with the Border Patrol, FORBPO offers a platform for connection, support, and camaraderie.
Through its partnerships with the National Border Patrol Museum and the Border Patrol Foundation, FORBPO continues to honor the service and sacrifice of Border Patrol agents and their families. It's a testament to the enduring spirit of the Border Patrol community and a beacon of support for those who have served.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read this week's blog. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about FORBPO, feel free to reach out or visit their website.
This week, we delve deeper into the captivating history of the United States Border Patrol. We start in 1789, with the establishment of the U.S. Customs Service, a pivotal moment that set the stage for the formation of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in 2003. We then move to 1942, where we witness the finalization of the official design of the USBP patch, a symbol that continues to represent the Border Patrol today. In 1975, we celebrate the trailblazing women who became Border Patrol Agents, marking a significant milestone in the history of the Border Patrol. Finally, in 1980, we commemorate the establishment of the U.S. Border Patrol Museum, a testament to the rich and complex history of the Border Patrol. These narratives, along with many more intriguing events, await you in our exploration of the U.S. Border Patrol's rich and complex history this week.
As we delve into the past, we also pause to honor three agents on the anniversaries of their Newton-Azrak Award actions.
During this week, we solemnly remember six of our fallen comrades, including Daniel P. Cox and Edgardo Acosta-Feliciano, who both tragically passed away on July 31, 2021. It's important to note that their causes of death were unrelated.
Enjoy and have a great week!
P.S. - 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 firstname.lastname@example.org). As always, make sure to explore all of the hyperlinks to the documents and pages. Finally, please forward this blog to whomever you think may enjoy it.
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.
THROWBACK PHOTO OF THE WEEK
A Quiet Word on the Plains
Back in '61, under the endless sky, a Border Patrol Inspector and a suspect found themselves sharing words by the side of the road. Their meeting spot? Nothing more than a shallow ditch. Behind them, the land stretched out - not a tree in sight. Their cowboy hats and jackets were the only defense against the chill. Next to them, the Inspector's ride, a seafoam green '60 Plymouth Savoy, waited patiently. Its single fireball light on the roof was a beacon of law and order in the wild. Just another day on the job, under the big, open sky.
Follow this link to see examples of USBP employees Upholding Honor First.
Jose M. Martinez
Border Patrol Agent
On August 4, 2010, Border Patrol Agent Jose M. Martinez was on patrol near Sackets Harbor, New York, in the Wellesley Island Border Patrol Station’s area of responsibility within Buffalo Sector. At about 0200 hours, Agent Martinez heard an urgent request for assistance from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department regarding a domestic disturbance with shots fired in Sackets Harbor. Law enforcement presence in this rural area is minimal at best, with no local police, and few deputies or State Police troopers on duty or nearby in such early morning hours. Area law enforcement agencies depend upon each other for assistance when needed, and this morning was no exception. Agent Martinez was one of the first back-up officers to arrive.
Prior to Agent Martinez’ arrival, a male subject had shot his wife multiple times with an assault rifle, leaving her lying critically wounded in the common hallway vestibule of an apartment building. Two Jefferson County Deputies, the only officers then at the scene, had just attempted to rescue the woman, but were forced to retreat when the male subject threatened them at gunpoint from the doorway of his apartment, near where the woman was lying.
Understanding this, and in the face of the still threatening active shooter, Agent Martinez demonstrated outstanding courage and volunteered without hesitation to attempt a rescue of the woman. Acting quickly, decisively, and selflessly, Agent Martinez and two deputies made a tactical approach towards the building.
As one deputy covered them, Agent Martinez and the other deputy entered the immediate danger area, still threatened by the assailant. They grabbed the motionless and defenseless woman, and dragged her out of the building to safety and a waiting ambulance.
Agent Martinez then remained at the scene to assist the local agencies with perimeter security while negotiators attempted to talk the now barricaded assailant out of the building. The subject finally surrendered without further incident when local officers entered the residence at about 0645 hrs.
Border Patrol Agent Jose Martinez’ extraordinary bravery and intrepidity in the face of recognized, real, and eminent danger saved the life of Sherry Morris, at the extreme risk of his own life.
John N. Leslie - photo, photo 2, statuette
Border Patrol Agent (BORTAC)
On July 31, 2021, Border Patrol Agent (BPA) John Leslie and his wife were headed home from a family function when they noticed a burning vehicle that had been involved in an accident. The crash caused massive damage and a fire in the vehicle. BPA Leslie stopped to render aid. BPA Leslie approached the scene and spoke with two bystanders who stated that the driver was trapped inside the burning vehicle. Without hesitation, BPA Leslie climbed into the burning vehicle through the dislodged passenger door to assess the situation. The driver was bleeding from severe head and facial trauma and was unconscious. He was pinned between the crushed steering wheel, the engine block, and his seat. His seatbelt was fastened. The vehicle was engulfed in flames and smoke.
Due to limited access, BPA Leslie climbed into the backseat to attempt to extract the driver. Discovering he lacked the necessary leverage; BPA Leslie determined the best course of action was to attempt the rescue through the driver side door but was unable to reach the lock and handle. Without any rescue tools, BPA Leslie quickly searched the smoke-filled interior of the vehicle and located a bowling ball in the rear of the vehicle.
BPA Leslie struck the driver side window several times with the bowling ball, eventually breaking it, and allowing him to unlock and open the door. Upon gaining access, BPA Leslie and one of the bystanders were able to pull the unconscious driver from the vehicle mere seconds before an explosion caused the vehicle to be fully engulfed in flames.
His heroic selflessness, undaunted determination, and compassion bring great credit upon himself, his family, the Detroit Sector, and the U.S. Border Patrol. The driver is alive today as a direct result of BPA Leslie's tenacity and disregard for his own safety in the face of the extreme danger to himself.
Travis Creteau - award certificate, photo 1, photo 2, photo 3
Border Patrol Agent
San Diego, California
On August 5, 2012, at Otay Lakes Reservoir near San Diego, California, Border Patrol Agent Travis Creteau was alerted by frantic bystanders about an SUV submerged in the water with two children trapped inside. He requested emergency services and without regard for his personal safety, immediately dove into the murky, zero-visibility waters to locate the overturned vehicle.
Performing beyond the call of duty while facing grave danger, Agent Creteau displayed extraordinary courage as he dove underwater to locate the vehicle where he managed to open a door and locate one of the girls, still strapped in her booster seat. Despite the challenging underwater conditions and doors embedded in mud, he took multiple dives to cut the restraints and bring her to the surface. Unyielding in his rescue efforts, Agent Creteau located the second child after several dives and, successfully freed her from entanglement and brought her to the surface.
Exhausted, but compelled to continue assisting, Agent Creteau swam to shore and performed CPR on one of the girls until relieved by emergency medical services. Despite facing intense fatigue, hazardous conditions, and personal risk, he showcased remarkable determination and dedication to saving lives.
Agent Creteau's conspicuous heroism and extraordinary courageous actions brought great credit upon himself and the United States Border Patrol.
As of March 6, 2023 the U.S. Border Patrol has suffered 155* fallen.
The following names hold a distinguished position, as they have made the ultimate sacrifice in their unwavering commitment to uphold the oath each officer took to protect and defend the United States of America.
The facts concerning each officer are presented with minimal editing to preserve the "language of the day" found in the original reports, providing readers with a sense of historical context.
In compliance with the Privacy Act of 1974, the cause of death for employees who lost their lives in the line of duty due to exposure to lethal illnesses will not be disclosed.
* Please note that despite their deaths meeting the criteria for Line-of-Duty-Deaths at the time, Patrol Inspector Garvis Field Harrell and Border Patrol Agent John Charles Gigax are not officially recognized as fallen by either the Customs and Border Protection or the U.S. Border Patrol. However, HonorFirst.com respectfully recognizes and includes both Inspector Harrell and Agent Gigax among those who have fallen in the line of duty.
Augustin de la Pena
Date of Birth: October 9, 1882
Entered on Duty: August 9, 1923
Title: Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: August 2, 1925
On August 2, 1925, Patrol Inspector Augustin De La Pena was shot and killed by an insane Mexican at Rio Grande City, Texas. While eating supper in a restaurant, the officer, accompanied by Patrol Inspector Fred Neale, noticed a Mexican enter the restaurant and get into an argument with the proprietor. It was later learned the Mexican's name was Macario Pena. The Mexican acted very peculiarly, and the officers noticed that he was armed with a revolver. After he left the restaurant, Patrol Inspector De La Pena decided to follow him and question him in regards to his immigration status. Inspector De La Pena followed him into the drug store and started to question him when the Mexican drew his revolver. The officer ordered him to drop the gun, but instead the Mexican fired the bullet struck De La Pena in the abdomen. Wounded, he attempted to take the revolver away from the Mexican. The two struggled behind a counter in the store, which made it impossible for others to assist. De La Pena became weakened by the loss of blood, and in order to protect others, drew his own revolver and shot the Mexican, killing him. Inspector De La Pena died on the operating table a few hours later.
Survivor benefits - As per this document, his wife received $96.67 per month for her and their eight children. After 7 children turned 18, his wife received $65.25 per month for her and one child. The document states that after being shot, his last words were, "My poor family."
Norman R. Salinas
Date of Birth: February 18, 1960
Entered on Duty: December 9, 1984
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: August 4, 1986
Border Patrol Agent Norman Ray Salinas died on Monday, August 4, 1986, at approximately 1:20 a.m., when the government van he was driving went out of control on Interstate 35, south of Cotulla, Texas.
Agent Salinas was transporting Carlos Martinez Alvarenga, an illegal alien from El Salvador, to the Lasalle County Jail in Cotulla from Laredo. Lasalle County Sheriff Darwin Avant stated that Agent Salinas apparently failed to negotiate a curve. The van left the road running onto a median, rolling over several times before finally bursting into flames. Both Agent Salinas and Martinez Alvarenga were thrown from the van. They were dead before the first officers arrived on the scene.
Javier Vega, Jr.
Date of Birth June 17, 1978
Entered on Duty: February 11, 2008
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: August 3, 2014
On Sunday, August 3, 2014, Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega, Jr. was shot and killed near Santa Monica, Texas, as he attempted to take a law enforcement action during a robbery while he was fishing with his wife, children, and parents. Two illegal aliens approached them and attempted to rob them. Agent Vega was shot in the chest when he attempted to draw his weapon. His father was also shot and wounded as he returned fire at the men.
Both men fled the scene, but were arrested a short time later. They were charged with capital murder, attempted capital murder, and other crimes. It is believed the same subjects had committed numerous similar robberies at the direction of a Mexican cartel. Both men had been previously deported numerous times.
On September 20, 2016, it was determined that, in light of information identified during the intensive investigation completed by the Willacy County Sheriff s Department, Agent Vega's actions were indicative of his law enforcement training and that he instinctively reacted, placing himself in harm's way to stop a criminal act and protect the lives of others. His death was re-determined to have been in the line of duty.
Agent Vega, who was 36 years old, entered on duty with the U.S. Border Patrol on February 11, 2008, as a member of Academy Class 745. Agent Vega was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and had served with the United States Border Patrol for six years. He is survived by his wife, three children, parents and brother.
Marco A. Gonzales
Date of Birth: October 19, 1970
Entered on Duty: November 14, 2005
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: August 5, 2020
Border Patrol Agent Marco A. Gonzales passed away on August 5, 2020. The circumstances of his passing were reviewed by an executive panel and the CBP Commissioner who agreed that this death occurred in the line of duty. Agent Gonzales will be remembered for his diligent service to the nation and for his bravery in the face of danger.
BPA Gonzales entered on duty on November 14, 2005, as part of the 606th Session of the Border Patrol Academy. He served as an agent at the Brackettville, Texas Station throughout his career. During his tenure, Agent Gonzales also served his fellow agents as a union representative.
Prior to becoming a Border Patrol agent, Agent Gonzales honorably served his country in the U.S. Marine Corps. He is survived by his wife, Maria, three children and his parents.
Daniel P. Cox
Entered on Duty: July 28, 1997
Title: Supervisory Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: July 31, 2021
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Cox and another driver were killed on July 31, 2021 in a head-on crash on State Route 86 near Sells, Arizona. Agent Cox and the other driver were pronounced dead about 12:20 a.m.
Agent Cox entered on duty on July 28, 1997 at the Eagle Pass Station in Del Rio Sector as part of the 346th Session of the Border Patrol Academy. At the time of his death, he was assigned to the BORSTAR unit in Tucson Sector as a Canine Handler and Canine Instructor.
Prior to becoming a Border Patrol Agent, Agent Cox served in the U.S. Army, receiving an Honorable Discharge in 1998.
He is survived by his daughters, Alexandria and Elizabeth: sister, Sonia: brother Gilbert: father Stacey: and half-brother, Lucas.
Entered on Duty: July 3, 2006
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: July 31, 2021
Agent Acosta-Feliciano died on July 31, 2021. The circumstances of his passing were reviewed by an executive panel and the CBP Commissioner who determined that this death occurred in the line of duty.
Agent Acosta-Feliciano entered on duty on July 31, 2021 as part of the 626th Session of the Border Patrol Academy. At the time of his death he was assigned to the Deming Station in the El Paso Sector.
Prior to becoming a Border Patrol Agent, Agent Acosta-Feliciano served in the U.S. Army Reserve Civil Affairs and completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2004.
He is survived by his wife, Astrid; daughter, Veronica; sons, Adrian and Adner; father, Eduardo; sisters, Gloribel and Maribel; and brothers, Eduardo, Ricardo, and Reynaldo.
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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 Supervisory Border Patrol Agent and retired Immigration Special Agent.
U.S. Border Patrol historian and retired Deputy Chief Patrol Agent.
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