September 10 - September 16
Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
The Newton-Azrak Award and the USBP Legacy
This week, I'd like to dive deep into a matter close to my heart - the sense of pride and history we share as members, both past and present, of the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP). I've always believed that to truly appreciate where we are, and to effectively chart our path forward, we must understand where we've been. This understanding roots us, gives us a unique identity, and embodies the spirit of esprit de corps.
On that note, let's discuss the Newton-Azrak Award. It is one of the most significant awards in the USBP, commemorating agents Theodore Newton and George Azrak, who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. This award symbolizes the courage, commitment, and sacrifice that our agents exhibit, qualities that are at the very core of what the Border Patrol stands for.
Now, here's a synchronistic twist: While last week's blog was highlighting the heroics of Border Patrol Agent George E. Evancheck—a Newton-Azrak Award recipient from 1986, whose valorous action had been forgotten for decades— a planning meeting was concurrently taking place at USBP Headquarters for an upcoming ceremony, where the history and recipients of the Newton-Azrak Award was proposed to be presented. I was taken aback to be told that the individual responsible for USBP history, and the HQ division overseeing awards and recognitions, did not possess a history of the awards, an updated list of recipients, or details about the courageous actions that led to the awards It's somewhat unsettling to think that such foundational information wasn’t immediately accessible or championed by those who should be the keepers of that information.
This revelation underscores a concerning gap in our institutional memory and emphasizes the crucial need to uphold and revere our traditions and accolades. As a retired agent and steadfast advocate for the Border Patrol's rich legacy, I felt it was my duty to bridge this knowledge divide. I reached out, emailing three high-ranking USBP HQ employees, offering them access to the extensive volumes of historic information meticulously curated on HonorFirst.com, especially the intricate details surrounding the Newton-Azrak Award. Much to my dismay, these efforts to share such a pivotal facet of our history were met with silence, with no acknowledgment or response to my outreach.
But why does this matter? The answer is multi-faceted: Beyond honoring our past, organizational pride plays a pivotal role in fostering a cohesive, motivated, and committed workforce. When employees understand and take pride in the legacy they're a part of, it boosts morale and job satisfaction. This can, in turn, lead to improved retention rates, as agents feel a deeper connection and commitment to the organization's mission and values. Furthermore, a thorough grasp of our accolades, awards, and traditions is not just about facts and dates; it's about keeping the flame of pride, commitment, and sacrifice alive.
So, here's a call to action. Let us take the initiative to value, document, and share the rich tapestry of stories, achievements, and sacrifices that define the U.S. Border Patrol. After all, Honor First is not just a motto; it's our guiding principle
This week, we journey further into the U.S. Border Patrol's compelling history. We start our exploration in 1911, where an insightful memo by Acting Commissioner-General Frank H. Larned illuminates discussions about the compensation of "mounted inspectors", shedding light on a prelude to the formation of the Border Patrol. Moving on to 1924, we delve into the tragic accidental death of Patrol Inspector James Mankin, a poignant chapter in our agency's lore. From there, we advance to 1926, where we’ll uncover the determination and grit of Inspector Frank Edgell as he skillfully and peacefully resolves a tense standoff with 47 hostile Yaqui Indians. Fast-forwarding to the 1980s, we touch on the foundational year of 1982 for the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC), showcasing the agency’s commitment to adapting and evolving in the face of new challenges.
This week, we honor five Border Patrol Agents on the anniversary of their 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 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
CBP Drummers, St. Patrick's Day 2016
A rhythmic flashback to Savannah's St. Patrick's Day 2016. All drummers, identifiable by the distinct check pattern on their glengarries, from CBP's Air and Marine Operations, Office of Field Operations, and the United States Border Patrol come together. Their smiles and confidence beat as one, echoing unity and pride.
Follow this link to see examples of USBP employees Upholding Honor First.
Richard B. Holmes
Border Patrol Agent
Joseph E. Kempa
Border Patrol Agent
Michael W. Richardson
Border Patrol Agent
Andrew W. Schutt
Border Patrol Agent
Austin L. Skero II - photo
Border Patrol Agent
On September 10, 1996, agents from the Brownsville Station encountered hostile gunfire while on duty. During this confrontation, Agent Rodelfo Martinez was shot in his right arm. Nearby, Agents Michael W. Richardson, Joseph E. Kempa, Andrew W. Schutt, Austin L. Skero II, and Richard B. Holmes were patrolling an area along the Rio Grande River, notorious for illegal activities, about seven miles east of the Gateway International Port of Entry in Brownsville, Texas. They quickly responded to assist during the crisis.
The immediate and decisive actions of these responding agents were instrumental in saving Agent Martinez's life. Their exemplary bravery and resilience were evident as they navigated the intense situation.
As events unfolded, Agents Skero and Holmes found themselves directly in the assailants' line of fire. Agents Kempa and Martinez were initially trapped by the gunfire. However, when the assailants shifted their focus to Agents Richardson and Schutt, Skero and Holmes, disregarding their own safety, moved to assist Martinez and Kempa. Holmes took a protective stance over them and, alongside Kempa, administered first aid to the injured Martinez. Skero engaged the assailants, ensuring Richardson and Schutt remained unharmed. Once the immediate threat was neutralized, Skero also helped in attending to Martinez's wound.
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.
James F. Mankin
Date of Birth: April 5, 1902
Entered on Duty: July 28, 1924
Title: Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: September 14, 1924
At about 4:30 p.m., September 14, 1924, Patrol Inspector James F. Mankin was killed by the accidental discharge of a service rifle. The accident occurred about 18 miles northeast of Laredo near the Rio Grande River where Patrol Inspector Mankin, along with Patrol Inspectors Buck West and Ralph R. Dockum, were patrolling in a government vehicle. The officers, upon reaching the banks of the river, alighted from the car to determine whether any crossings had been made. Upon returning to the car, Patrol Inspector Mankin, who had been driving, entered the vehicle and seated himself behind the steering wheel. Patrol Inspector Dockum prepared to enter the back seat of the car from the left side and Patrol Inspector West was to enter the back seat from the right side of the automobile. There were two rifles in scabbards in the back of the car along with camping gear and other articles.
The two officers were rearranging the items in the back of the car in order to make more room for themselves when a .30 caliber government rifle slipped out of the car, the hammer striking the running board and discharging the gun. The bullet struck the back of the front seat about six inches below the top. The bullet split, one part ricocheting to the left, striking the bow over the back seat and passing within a few inches of Dockum's face. The other part of the bullet ricocheted to the right through the upholstering of the front seat, striking Inspector Mankin behind the right ear.
Inspector Mankin died less than thirty minutes after the accident.
NOTE: For several years, Inspector Mankin was not carried carried in the rolls of the Immigration Service's honored fallen. This is evident by his name being omitted in the 1927 Commissioner-General's Annual Report to the Secretary of Labor (pg 18).
Survivor benefits - As per this document, his mother received $20 per month for 8 years.
Trena R. McLaughlin
Date of Birth: April 3, 1950
Entered on Duty: October 14, 1984
Title: Supervisory Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: September 14, 2009
On July 14, 1994, Border Patrol Agent Trena McLaughlin was stuck with a syringe while searching a vehicle in Temecula, California. As a result of this incident, Agent McLaughlin tested positive for Hepatitis C in 1998.
After medically retiring from the Border Patrol in 2002, Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Trena McLaughlin died of liver failure on September 14, 2009.
Agent McLaughlin served with the United States Border Patrol for 18 years and was a member of the 167th session of the Border Patrol Academy assigned to the Temecula Station later renamed the Newton-Azrak Station in the San Diego Sector.
Burial Details Unknown
Date of Birth February 6, 1987
Entered on Duty: September 1, 2008
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: September 15, 2012
On September 15, 2012, Border Patrol Agent Jeffrey Ramirez, died at the age of 25. Agent Ramirez had been hospitalized in Laredo, Texas since the onset of a heat-related illness on August 22, 2012.
Agent Ramirez entered on duty with the U.S. Border Patrol on September 1, 2008, as a member of Border Patrol Academy Class 810. Following graduation from the Academy, he was assigned to the Hebbronville Station in the Laredo Sector.
Agent Ramirez is survived by his parents, sister, two brothers, son and a girlfriend. His brother is a Border Patrol Agent at the Freer Station.
Tyler R. Robledo
Date of Birth May 1, 1980
Entered on Duty: September 8, 2011
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: September 12, 2014
On September 12, 2014, Border Patrol Agent Tyler R. Robledo was involved in a two-vehicle accident near Carrizo Springs, Texas. Agent Robledo died of his injuries at the hospital shortly after the accident. The driver of the other vehicle also died. Agent Robledo was 34 years old at the time of his death and leaves behind his wife and two children.
Agent Robledo entered on duty with the U.S. Border Patrol on September 8, 2011, as a member of the 988th session of the Border Patrol Academy. He was stationed at the Carrizo Springs Station at the time of his death.
Help spread the word!
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.