August 6 - August 12
Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
This week, we're turning our spotlight towards an organization that has been a pillar of support for the Border Patrol community - The Border Patrol Foundation (BPF).
The Border Patrol Foundation
A Pillar of Support in the USBP Community
About the Border Patrol Foundation
Border Patrol Foundation (BPF) stands as a testament to the courage, commitment, and sacrifices of U.S. Border Patrol Agents and their families. Conceived by Mike Conners, a private sector Homeland Security executive, and Ron Colburn, then Senior Associate Chief of Operations at U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) Headquarters, Washington, D.C. BPF was born out of deep respect and admiration for the agents who risk their lives daily to protect our nation's borders.
BPF's journey began on July 23, 2009, a day marked by both the birth of a supportive foundation and the tragic loss of Border Patrol Agent Robert W. Rosas, Jr., who died while on duty near San Diego, CA. The Foundation's inaugural act of support was to provide financial assistance to the Rosas family, setting the tone for its mission to Honor the Memory. Serve the Families.
The Foundation's leadership was initially composed of a diverse group of private sector professionals and retired Border Patrol Agents, including Professor Shannon Brown, Attorney Bob Horn, non-profit executive Terry Modglin, businessman Terry Lanni, former Director of Presidential Personnel Bob Nash, retired Border Patrol Deputy Chief Ron Colburn, and retired Border Patrol Deputy Chief Luis Barker. Mike Conners and Ron Colburn, the two visionaries behind BPF, served as its first President and Vice President, respectively, from 2009 to 2012.
Today, BPF is led by President Rowdy Adams, who joined the Board of Directors in November 2012, and Erica Aguilar became Executive Director in 2020, the surviving spouse of Border Patrol Agent Luis A. Aguilar. Their leadership continues to uphold BPF's mission and values, and to further expand the Foundation.
As listed in the 2022 Charity Listing from the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), BPF is a recognized charity with a 5-digit code of 79557. It operates as a 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in the State of Arizona. BPF's mission is, “To honor the memory of fallen U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents and provide support and resources to the families. BPF provides support to Border Patrol employees, USBP agents and their families for on- and off-duty deaths, injuries, illnesses, family medical emergencies, special circumstances and student scholarships.”
The CFC listing also reveals that BPF maintains an annual fundraising and administrative cost of 16.2% of its total revenue. This ensures a significant portion of the funds raised directly supports its mission. BPF falls under the Service Categories (Taxonomy Codes) of Human Services (P) and Education (B), reflecting its dual commitment to immediate support for Border Patrol families and fostering educational opportunities through scholarships.
The Mission of the BPF
BPF's mission is multifaceted. Firstly, it honors the memory of fallen U.S. Border Patrol agents by providing immediate financial support to their families. This support also extends to all employees of the Border Patrol, including uniformed personnel and mission support, for on- and off-duty deaths, injuries, illnesses, and family medical emergencies.
Secondly, BPF offers scholarships to the children of the fallen agents through its Silent Partner Program, and scholarships awarded on a competitive basis to children of active and retired Border Patrol employees, fostering the growth and development of the next generation.
Lastly, but certainly not least, BPF recognizes the heroic deeds and exceptional performances of our agents through its annual recognition dinner. This event serves as a platform to celebrate the courage, commitment, and sacrifices of U.S. Border Patrol Agents.
In addition to these core activities, the BPF ensures that the memory of fallen agents and inspectors is kept alive by posting on social media about them on the anniversary of their deaths. This act of remembrance is a testament to their service and sacrifice.
BPF Events: Honoring and Supporting
Each year BPF hosts several events to honor the memory of fallen agents, support their families and raise funds for the mission. BPF planned for 7 events in 2023, 5 of which have already been held, and the last two major events planned in 2023 are: "Honoring the Green" in Dulles, Virginia on September 22, and their 15th Annual Recognition Dinner at the JW Marriott in Washington, D.C. on October 27. These events serve as a platform for BPF to raise funds, honor the fallen, and celebrate the courage and commitment of U.S. Border Patrol Agents. Please note that the "Honoring the Green" event is currently sold out, but you can get involved by becoming a BPF volunteer for any of their events.
Supporting the BPF
BPF's work is made possible by the generous support of individuals, corporations, and other organizations. There are various ways to support BPF's mission, including donations, becoming a national partner, and participating in their events. Every contribution helps BPF continue its invaluable work for the Border Patrol community. If you're interested in supporting BPF, visit their website to learn more about how you can help.
Over the years, BPF has stood as a beacon of hope and support for the Border Patrol community, embodying the spirit of our motto, "Honor First." As we delve deeper into BPF's history and contributions in this week's blog, let's take a moment to appreciate the invaluable work they do and the lives they've touched
This week, we continue our journey through the U.S. Border Patrol's history. We start in 1913, noting the job announcement for "Mounted Inspector (Male)". We then move to 1929, highlighting a confrontation between Patrol Inspectors Charles W. Hayes and Richard R. Costa and alcohol smugglers. A significant development occurred in 1961 when President Kennedy announced that Border Patrol Agents would be placed on commercial airlines to prevent hijackings, marking the birth of the Sky Marshals. Our timeline ends in 1995 with the establishment of a satellite Border Patrol Academy in Charleston. These events, among others, will be our focus this week.
Additionally, we'll honor five Border Patrol Agents and two Immigration Officers on the anniversaries of their Newton-Azrak Award actions.
We also pause this week to remember Border Patrol Agent Manuel A. Alvarez on the anniversary of his death.
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 email@example.com). 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
Guardians of the Frontier
A Sunny Glimpse into the Past
This captivating, albeit faded color photograph from around 1960, believed to be taken on the sun-drenched plains of Montana or North Dakota, showcases three dedicated Border Patrol Inspectors in their crisp dress uniforms and campaign hats. They stand tall in front of their iconic seafoam green patrol vehicles - a 1957 Ford Fairlane or Galaxie with single headlights, and a 1958 Ford Galaxie with double headlights and a single fireball on the roof. The men and their vehicles are positioned on a grassy expanse, with rolling hills stretching out behind them and not a tree in sight. The man in the center is Border Patrol Inspector Jerrel B. Scott, grandfather of Mr. L. Floyd, who graciously shared this piece of history with us. These men, and the vehicles they relied on, were integral to the Border Patrol's mission during this era, embodying the spirit of service and dedication that continues to define the agency today.
Follow this link to see examples of USBP employees Upholding Honor First.
Robert B. LaBelle
Border Patrol Agent
Peter R. Moran
Border Patrol Agent
Donald A. Peck
Patrol Agent in Charge, Swanton Station
Border Patrol Agent Robert B. LaBelle was recognized for his exceptional courage in rescuing two Canadian residents whose boats had capsized in the midst of one of the most violent summer storms ever experienced in the Lake Champlain region. On August 8, 1983, despite the extremely hazardous and life threatening weather conditions, he, along with Border Patrol Agents Peter Moran and Donald Peck, made numerous attempts before successfully rescuing the victims.
Arthur G. Lopez
Border Patrol Agent
On August 10, 1995, Border Patrol Agent Arthur G. Lopez displayed unusual courage during an incident in which he was critically wounded by gunfire along the U.S./Mexico international boundary.
At approximately 2:00 pm, Agent Lopez proceeded to an area along the border commonly known as Smuggler’s Gulch. He was accompanied by BPA (T) Ronal Wehr and was assigned routine linewatch and patrol duties.
Agents Lopez and Wehr observed activity on the Mexican side of the international boundary fence that appeared to be Mexican police chasing individuals on foot. The Smuggler’s Gulch area is a notoriously known canyon leading into the U.S. from Mexico that empties near the residential and business areas of Nogales, Arizona. It is frequently used by organized criminal groups for the purpose of smuggling undocumented foreign nationals, narcotics, and other contraband. It is also a favorite lair for border bandits who prey on their victims (other illegal aliens) as they cross from Mexico into the U.S.
As Agents Lopez and Wehr arrived at a high point on the U.S. side of the border that overlooks Smuggler’s Gulch, they observed armed, uniformed individuals chasing and shooting at other individuals. The agents saw these uniformed individuals capture two, and then push and kick one of the people they were chasing. Upon discovering that they were being observed by Agents Lopez and Wehr, at least one of the individuals, later identified as Mexican police officers, began shooting at Agents Lopez and Wehr. BPA Lopez was critically wounded while attempting to run toward the steel border fence for cover. Agent Lopez fell to the ground but was able to crawl to the fence. He continued to give clear verbal instruction to BPA (T) Ronald Wehr the entire time. After ensuring the safety of his trainee partner and himself, Agent Lopez proceeded to call for assistance via his hand-held radio. He informed other units that he had been shot and that he was continuing to receive gunfire from the Mexican police. He verbally directed the responding units to his location, advising them when it was clear to approach and the originating point of the assailant’s gunfire.
His calm and composed actions during a very traumatic, critical moment most assuredly contributed to the safety of his partner, the responding units, and likely played a key part in saving his own life, as he was racing the clock against rapid loss of blood. He never lost consciousness, did not panic, and was able to clearly communicate the situation to the benefit of the responding Border Patrol units and other agency units.
James E. Lassiter Jr.
Mr. James E. Lassiter, while on official duty as the Assistant Officer-In-Charge, Nairobi, Kenya, Rome District, Office of International Affairs, courageously saved the life of Foreign Service National employee of the United States Government following the attack of the U.S. Embassy on August 7, 1998.
Mr. Lassiter was in an interior section of the main floor of the Embassy when the explosion occurred. Mr. Lassiter was buried under four feet of concrete bricks and ceiling material. He was in total darkness, pinned to the floor from the waist down, and forced to breathe toxic, smoke-filled air. When the smoke and dust cleared, Mr. Lassiter forcibly extricated himself from the heavy rubble and, although in shock, began climbing over bricks, glass, broken furniture, and mangled security bars towards daylight at the rear of the Embassy.
When Mr. Lassiter reached the INS office and adjacent foreign commercial Service office areas, he could see that all interior walls had been blown down and broken desks and files were piled from two to eight feet deep. Still in shock, he continued to make his way toward the light when he heard a cry for help from a Foreign Service National employee of the Foreign Commercial Service. When Mr. Lassiter found the employee, he had blood streaming from his head and face and his left hand was partially severed at the wrist. Mr. Lassiter assisted him to his feet, put the Kenyan’s arm around his neck, and helped him to reach the back wall. Mr. Lassiter assisted him in climbing onto a high window ledge and then dragged and verbally directed the employee to crawl approximately 15 feet to a place where they could safely exit the building and then assisted him into an ambulance. Despite severely bruised ribs and a smashed lower leg, Mr. Lassiter remained at the scene to assist in further rescue efforts. He gave direction and information to rescue workers and security personnel regarding those individuals who were present on the main floor at the time of the blast, and the layout and condition of the interior of the main floor. The Foreign Service National Employee was evacuated to Germany for medical treatment and has since regained his eyesight and use of his left hand.
Joseph P. Martin
Mr. Joseph P. Martin, Officer-in-Charge, Nairobi, Kenya, Rome District, Office of International Affairs, is recognized for his unusual courage and bravery in his reaction to the terrorist bombing of the United States Embassy in Nairobi on August 7, 1998.
Mr. Martin was in the Embassy at the time of the explosion and was able to exit the building; however, on three occasions, ignoring his own safety, he returned into the building to assist in the rescue operation of other trapped, injured, and deceased Embassy personnel. Mr. Martin assisted in the evacuation of several Embassy personnel, including the wife of his Assistant Officer-in-Charge. Additionally, concerned about the fate of another INS employee, Mr. Martin returned to the INS area of the building in an attempt to locate her. The INS office was one of the hardest hit at the Embassy; however, Mr. Martin climbed a ladder back into the Embassy in an attempt to ensure the employee’s safety.
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent
San Diego Sector
On the morning of August 8, 1998, at approximately 8:05 a.m., a serious injury two-vehicle accident occurred at the intersection of Ballantyne and Main in the city of El Cajon. As a result of the accident, one of the vehicles which was occupied by an adult female driver and a three-year-old passenger, burst into flames.
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Armando Moralez was on duty at the time of the two-vehicle accident. As he came upon the scene, he positioned his vehicle to block the traffic flow to keep other vehicles from becoming involved in the accident scene. Upon observing the fire and that the vehicle was occupied, SBPA Moralez immediately retrieved his fire extinguisher from his Border Patrol vehicle and began attempting to extinguish the fire. During this time, SBPA Moralez and other law enforcement officers exposed themselves to the danger of the fire and possible exploding fuel. SBPA Moralez continued to fight the fire until the rescue of the two victims was complete.
During this stressful emergency, SBPA Moralez exercised great courage and bravery in the pursuit of a worthwhile objective fully knowing that he was placing himself in imminent peril of loss of life or great bodily injury in the line of duty.
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.
Manuel A. Alvarez
Date of Birth October 12, 1978
Entered on Duty: July 13, 2003
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: August 11, 2016
On August 11, 2016, Border Patrol Agent Manuel A. Alvarez was killed in the line of duty near Casa Grande, Arizona. Agent Alvarez was involved in a vehicle accident and died at the scene. He was 37 years old and assigned to the Casa Grande Station.
Agent Alvarez entered on duty July 13, 2003, as a member of U.S. Border Patrol Academy Class 557.
He is survived by his wife, four children, parents and two sisters.
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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