September 3 - September 9
Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
This week, I want to focus on a topic that's close to my heart: the importance of remembering our heroes, particularly those who have been honored with the Newton-Azrak Award for Heroism and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the Line of Duty.
This week marks a special anniversary that serves as a poignant reminder of why we must never forget our heroes. It's the anniversary of Border Patrol Agent George E. Evancheck's heroic actions on September 5, 1986, near Comstock, Texas.
This Week in USBP History
The Imperative of Remembering Our Heroes
The Rediscovery of George E. Evancheck
Evancheck's story had been nearly lost to history, omitted from the Newton-Azrak Award recipient list for decades. It wasn't until 2022 that his story was rediscovered and rightfully restored. His actions during that fateful day in 1986 were nothing short of heroic, and they serve as a powerful example of why we must always remember and honor our heroes.
Why Remembering Our Heroes Matters
A Source of Inspiration
The heroics of agents like George E. Evancheck are not just commendable acts; they are the lifeblood of inspiration within the U.S. Border Patrol. These stories serve as a living testament to the core values that define us as an organization—courage, integrity, and honor. When we share and remember these stories, we're not just recounting history; we're setting a standard for what every agent should aspire to be. Whether you're a new recruit or a seasoned veteran, these tales of bravery and quick thinking offer invaluable lessons. They remind us that extraordinary feats are possible when we act in line with our core values. In a sense, these stories are the fuel that powers our collective drive for excellence, reinforcing the importance of living up to the ideals that make us proud to be part of this organization.
Heroes like Agent Evancheck don't just inspire us; they shape the very culture of the U.S. Border Patrol. Each act of bravery, each sacrifice, each moment of quick thinking adds a layer to our collective identity. These stories are the threads that weave the fabric of our organizational culture, encapsulated in our motto, "Honor First." When we honor these heroes, we're not just celebrating individual achievements; we're affirming and reinforcing the principles that guide us as an organization. Their stories become part of our shared narrative, a narrative that defines who we are and what we stand for. It's this narrative that fosters a sense of pride and belonging among agents, making us a stronger, more unified force.
Ethical and Moral Guidance
The stories of our heroes are more than just tales of bravery; they are lessons in ethics and morality that resonate deeply within the U.S. Border Patrol. Take Agent Evancheck, for example. His decision to crawl through fuel-soaked debris to disconnect live wires wasn't just brave; it was an ethical choice that put the safety of others above his own. These stories serve as real-world ethical case studies, offering a framework for making tough decisions in the line of duty. They remind us that the right choice is often the brave choice, and that bravery is rooted in our core values of integrity and honor. By keeping these stories alive, we provide ethical and moral guidance that helps shape the character of every agent, reinforcing the importance of decision-making that aligns with our organizational values.
Preserving the stories of our heroes is a responsibility that goes beyond mere commemoration. It's about shaping the future of the U.S. Border Patrol. When we remember and honor heroes like Agent Evancheck, we're doing more than paying tribute; we're ensuring that their sacrifices and lessons become a permanent part of our organizational legacy. These stories serve as a bridge between generations of agents, creating a continuum of values, bravery, and honor that stretches from the past into the future. By documenting and remembering these acts of heroism, we're not just creating a historical record; we're crafting a legacy of excellence that will inspire and guide future generations of agents.
The Danger of Forgetting
Forgetting our heroes is more than an oversight; it's a threat to the U.S. Border Patrol's organizational culture and pride. When stories like Agent Evancheck's fade away, we risk losing invaluable lessons in courage, integrity, and honor. Each forgotten hero represents a missed opportunity to inspire and guide future generations of agents.
Moreover, forgetting disrupts the continuity of our organizational legacy. A forgotten hero is a missing link in our collective history, affecting both our past and our future. The rediscovery of Agent Evancheck's story serves as a crucial reminder that we all have a role in preserving the legacy of our heroes. Forgetting isn't just a failure of memory; it's a failure to honor the values that define us.
In the U.S. Border Patrol, heroism takes many forms. While acts of bravery in the face of danger, like those of Agent Evancheck, are often the most visible, heroism also manifests in less dramatic but equally important ways. Upholding organizational values, as codified in the U.S. Border Patrol Honorary Awards, is itself a form of heroism. These awards recognize not just acts of valor but also administrative excellence, extraordinary law enforcement actions, and efforts in the preservation of life.
Remembering our heroes—whether they've shown courage in dangerous situations or upheld our values in their daily duties—is essential for maintaining organizational pride and culture. These stories serve as a constant reminder of what we stand for and what we aspire to be. They are the building blocks of our collective identity, the threads that weave the fabric of our ethos.
In a world where it's easy to forget, let us make it a point to remember. Because forgetting isn't just a failure of memory; it's a failure to honor the values that define us as an organization. Let's ensure that the stories of our heroes, in all their varied forms, are told, retold, and never forgotten.
Take Action: Uphold Honor First
Feeling inspired by the stories of heroism you've read today? Rekindle your pride in the U.S. Border Patrol and its exceptional workforce by diving deeper into our legacy. Visit the "Upholding Honor First" page to read about hundreds of Border Patrol heroes who have set the standard for courage, integrity, and honor. Let their stories fuel your own commitment to these enduring values.
This week, we delve deeper into the U.S. Border Patrol's multifaceted history. We'll start with 1918 documents that shed light on staffing levels along the Mexican border, revealing a gap between authorized and actual numbers of Mounted Watchmen. We'll also discuss the tragic 1929 murder of Marfa Assistant Chief Inspector Myles J. Scannell, a grim chapter in Border Patrol history. Additionally, we'll explore the innovative 1950s "Boatlift" program and the legislative changes of the 1960s that influenced both hijacking laws and civil rights initiatives. These stories, and much more, offer a nuanced look into the challenges and milestones that have shaped the Border Patrol over the years.
This week, we honor Border Patrol Agent George Evancheck on the anniversary of his Newton-Azrak Award action.
During this week, we solemnly remember three of our fallen on the anniversaries of their deaths.
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
From First Light to Leadership
The Journey of Agent Albert A. Herrera
As the sun rises, casting its first light on a young Border Patrol Agent named Albert A. Herrera, he stands in an early Honor Guard uniform, his eyes shielded by his campaign hat. This moment foreshadows a luminous career ahead; Agent Herrera would ascend through the ranks to become an Assistant Chief and the national leader of the USBP Honor Guard, highly decorated for valor and performance. A journey from first light to leadership, captured in a single, poignant frame.
Follow this link to see examples of USBP employees Upholding Honor First.
George E. Evancheck - award statuette, notification letter, selection letter with event description
Border Patrol Agent
Del Rio, Texas
On the morning of September 5, 1986, Border Patrol Agent George E. Evancheck was on official duty near Comstock, Texas, when he encountered a catastrophic traffic accident. A large gravel truck had collided with a passenger car, causing severe damage. The force of the impact propelled the truck off the road, where it crashed into a building serving both as a residence and a liquor store, occupied by an elderly couple.
Without hesitation, Agent Evancheck took immediate control of the chaotic and dangerous scene. Despite the evident risks to his own safety, he offered comfort to the victims, two of whom unfortunately succumbed to their injuries. Undeterred by the perilous conditions, Agent Evancheck crawled through the fuel-soaked debris of the demolished structure. His rapid assessment and decisive actions led to the disconnection of live electrical wires and butane gas lines, effectively preventing a potential fire or explosion.
Agent Evancheck's actions that day were nothing short of heroic. His quick thinking and selfless courage in the face of extreme danger are highly commendable.
The Service is privileged to have an individual of Agent Evancheck's exceptional caliber as part of its team.
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.
Myles J. Scannell
Date of Birth: December 19, 1895
Entered on Duty: September 27, 1921
Title: Senior Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: September 9, 1929
Senior Patrol Inspector, Myles J. Scannell, Marfa, Texas, was shot and killed on September 9, 1929, on the banks of the Rio Grande River near Polvo, Texas, southeast of Presidio. Inspector Scannell was working alone and apparently was attempting to arrest several aliens. Signs indicated that, while walking with the individuals he had in custody, Inspector Scannell was shot from ambush by someone else. His body bore two bullet and fifteen stab wounds. There is no information available concerning whether or not the killer or killers were identified or apprehended.
Inspector Scannell had entered the Service as a Mounted Watchman in September 1921, at Presidio. He was among the first Patrol Inspectors to be appointed to the Border Patrol in 1924, and became a Senior Patrol Inspector in July 1926.
See this 1929 testimonial from his brother officers written the day after his murder. Here is a cleaner version of the document.
Survivor benefits - As per this document, his wife received $78.74 per month for her and their child.
Robert J. Heibler
Date of Birth: January 28, 1916
Entered on Duty: April 30, 1941
Title: Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: September 7, 1941
During the evening of September 7, 1941, Patrol Inspectors Robert J. Heibler and Eldon C. Wade were on duty inspecting traffic on U.S. Highway #90 about three miles west of Uvalde, Texas. At approximately 9:00 p.m., one of the road flares used to warn approaching traffic was blown out by the wind, and Patrol Inspector Heibler, while relighting it, was struck by a passing automobile and dragged about 20 feet. The automobile did not stop and Inspector Wade did not pursue it at the time feeling that it was more important that he render first aid to Inspector Heibler. He began artificial respiration. About 15 minutes later, a physician reached the scene of the accident, gave Inspector Heibler an injection of adrenalin, and continued artificial respiration; however, the officer died within a few minutes.
Date of Birth: December 11, 1946
Entered on Duty: June 21, 1971
Title: Special Agent (Anti-Smuggling)
End of Watch: September 6, 1989
On September 6, 1989, at 1:45 a.m., Anti-Smuggling Agent Keith Connelly was shot by alien smugglers in the city of Fresno, California, where he died shortly thereafter. He was working an undercover operation accompanied by his partner, Ted Jordan, who was also shot but survived the ordeal. The Fresno, California Police Department responded to the emergency assistance call and apprehended the suspects who were turned over to the FBI for prosecution.
Keith Connelly joined the U.S. Border Patrol in June 21, 1971, in Chula Vista, California, being assigned to the San Clemente Station. He then transferred to Rouses Point, New York, in September 1975, and worked along the Northern Border until reassigned to San Clemente in May 1978. In 1983, he was transferred to Fresno, California, where he became a Senior Border Patrol Agent in December 1986. In August 1988, he was promoted to Special Agent assigned to the Fresno Anti-Smuggling Unit where he served until the time of his death.
Burial Details Unknown
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.
I prefer that you leave comments. However, if you wish to contact me, please do so by emailing Cliff@HonorFirst.com.