October 15 - October 21
Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
!!! New Book Alert !!!
You already know Joe Banco, a retired Deputy Chief Patrol Agent, distinguished historian and an invaluable source behind many of the insights shared in this blog. His dedication to preserving and sharing the history of the United States Border Patrol has made him an essential contributor to our journey through the past.
Today, we're excited to introduce Joe's latest work, "HONOR FIRST: Securing Enemy Aliens - U.S. Border Patrol During World War II." This book is a testament to his unwavering commitment to unveiling untold stories from the annals of history.
"Sometimes it's not possible to choose the story you write. Sometimes, the story chooses you." These profound words resonate with the incredible journey detailed in Joe's latest book.
History not shared or revisited has a way of falling into ruins and being overgrown with ground cover or buried by the sands of time, hiding its secrets. Such is the case of the United States Border Patrol efforts during World War II. In his book, Joe delves deeper into this period, providing a far richer and more comprehensive account of the United States Border Patrol's role during that critical time.
The story begins with Joe's recent visit to Fort Stanton in 2022, where he uncovered the remnants of the Fort Stanton Enemy Alien Detention Camp. The ruins of this camp, nestled in the New Mexico mountains, held secrets waiting to be revealed. Joe's exploration of the site, filled with moments of reflection and encounters with the echoes of the past, forms a captivating narrative.
Joe's book weaves together the stories of detainees, their experiences, and the pivotal role the Border Patrol played during a time when Border Security truly meant National Security. His account includes fascinating details about the internment of German and Japanese detainees, life within the camp, and the challenges faced by both detainees and those who guarded them.
To grasp the full narrative and understand how Border Security continues to be National Security, delve into "HONOR FIRST." It's a captivating read that brings a lesser-known aspect of American history to life.
Order your copy by visiting Amazon today and join the journey back in time.
During World War II, the United States Border Patrol was given enormous responsibilities in not only securing our borders and defending the American people, but in securing those designated as enemy aliens and protecting diplomats from the Axis powers. The expansion of the traditional duties of the U.S. Border Patrol was based on its transfer to the Department of Justice and the trust placed in the organization by leadership at the highest levels of the government. It was a time when Border Security became National Security and the U.S. Border Patrol was recognized as America’s first line of defense.
In HONOR FIRST: Securing Enemy Aliens - The U.S. Border Patrol During World War II the story will be told of a little known and often times mischaracterized period in our history. From running enemy alien detention camps to conducting coastal submarine patrols, capturing escaped prisoners of war and escorting enemy aliens from Latin America, to securing Axis Diplomats and their families, the U.S. Border Patrol played a vital role in the war effort.
This week, we highlight select chapters from the U.S. Border Patrol's history. In 1910, Supervising Inspector Frank Berkshire penned a memo concerning the selection and compensation of "mounted inspectors," a step towards formalizing roles within the organization. Transitioning to 1927, a night in the El Paso Sub-district saw Patrol Inspectors William A. Holt and John H. Lewis among others involved in two separate confrontations with smugglers. Fast forward to 1953, during the dedication ceremony for the Falcón Dam, Border Patrol Inspectors provided assistance in securing the event attended by President Dwight Eisenhower and Mexican President Adolfo Ruiz Cortines. Lastly, in 2004, the Border Patrol Basic Academy relocated to Artesia, New Mexico, marking a change in the training regimen for the Border Patrol. Join us as we continue to explore notable events that have contributed to the evolution of the U.S. Border Patrol.
This week, we honor two Border Patrol Agents on the anniversary of their Newton-Azrak Award actions.
We also remember the loss of six of our fallen, including John Rector who was accidentally shot and killed by fellow Inspector Bill Jordan, and two who fell in the same event. Jesus de la Ossa and Thomas J. Williams fell in the same incident in 1998. It's saddening to note that the USBP has lost two Agents due to the same event nine times (18 fallen). Their names are listed below:
Daniel P. Cox and Edgardo Acosta-Feliciano both fell on July 31, 2021. However, their causes of death were not related.
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
The Patch, The Badge, and The Tarantula
Throwback to 2008: An unexpected guest decided to pause on the iconic Border Patrol patch. Who needs backup when you've got eight extra legs on your side?
Note: No agents were terrified in the taking of this photo—officially.
Follow this link to see examples of USBP employees Upholding Honor First.
Juan Cruz Jr. - photo
Border Patrol Agent
Marcus K. Johnson - photo
Border Patrol Agent
The incident occurred on October 19, 2015, at approximately 2:00 a.m. Border Patrol Agents Juan Cruz, Jr. and Marcus K. Johnson responded to a call for assistance by agents working border enforcement duties near the Hidalgo, Texas, Settling Basin. A subject had jumped into the water basin and was struggling to stay afloat. The potential victim was frantically screaming for help and periodically dipping below the surface of the water. The agents quickly improvised a safety line from tow straps and courageously entered the dark, cold water in an attempt to rescue the subject.
Unfortunately, the improvised safety line was not long enough to reach the subject and the dangerous conditions forced the agents to return to land. Cruz swam out for a second time in an attempt to throw the subject a floatation device, but that attempt also failed due to the subject’s panicked state of mind. Upon the arrival of the City of Hidalgo’s Fire Department, the agents were informed that the fire department would not attempt a rescue due to policy constraints dealing with the dangers involved in a night time water rescue.
Both Cruz and Johnson ignored the injuries they had suffered to their bare feet on their previous rescue attempts and for a third time volunteered to try to rescue the subject. They borrowed life vests from the fire department and re-entered the dangerous water. On the third attempt, the agents managed to reach the subject and provide him with a life vest and were able to successfully extract him from the water without further incident.
The subject was examined by emergency medical technicians at the scene and found to be in good health and not in need of further medical attention. Both Cruz and Johnson were treated for their injuries at a local hospital and released the same night.
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.
Date of Birth: February 5, 1882
Entered on Duty: August 15, 1918
Title: Mounted Watchman
End of Watch: October 21, 1922
Mounted Guard Charles Gardiner was shot and killed without warning by the driver of a wagon loaded with smuggled liquor. Gardiner was approaching the vehicle to inspect it when the unprovoked attack occurred. The report indicated that he approached a one-horse wagon containing two Mexicans for the purpose of questioning them as to their immigration status and that they jumped from the wagon, immediately firing upon him from close range.
Survivor benefits - As per this document, his wife received $66.67 per month for her and their four children. Then $49.50 for her and one child.
John A. Rector
Date of Birth: August 23, 1898
Entered on Duty: March 13, 1928
Title: Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: October 16, 1956
At approximately 11:30 a.m., October 16, 1956, Patrol Inspector John A. Rector was accidently shot by the firing of a .357 Magnum revolver by fellow officer, Bill Jordan. The mishap occurred at the Chula Vista Sector Headquarters as two officers were discussing various guns and their limitations and advantages. During the course of the conversation, the .357 Magnum was unloaded, examined, then reloaded, and placed in a desk drawer. The two officers then examined a .22 revolver and soon the discussion returned to the .357 Magnum. At this point, Patrol Inspector Jordan reached into the desk drawer, picked up the pistol, and without realizing that it had been reloaded, pulled the trigger.
The bullet passed through a partition wall into Patrol Inspector Rector's office where it struck him in the left jaw and ranged up through his head. Upon arrival of an ambulance and a doctor, Patrol Inspector Rector was removed to the Paradise Valley Hospital in National City. Two neurosurgeons from San Diego were called; however, nothing could be done for Inspector Rector. He died at approximately 2:00 p.m. the same day.
Elgar B. Holliday
Date of Birth: October 6, 1911
Entered on Duty: June 19, 1944
Title: Senior Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: October 18, 1967
In September 1967, Hurricane Beulah struck the lower Rio Grande Valley and adjacent areas causing extensive wind and flood damage. During the emergency, Patrol Inspectors rendered assistance in the protection of life and property, performing exhaustive and arduous tasks and working long periods of time without rest or relief. Senior Patrol Inspector Elgar B. Holliday was engaged in continuous emergency work assignments for three days. During the third day, September 24, 1967, he was stricken, suffering from extreme shortness of breath and pains in the chest. Showing signs of complete exhaustion, he was taken to a doctor, who gave him an injection and diagnosed the difficulty as heart failure due to over-exertion. Mr. Holliday was subsequently placed in the St. Joseph's Hospital, Houston, Texas, where he died on October 18, 1967.
Date of Birth: July 18, 1939
Entered on Duty: November 2, 1970
Title: Aircraft Pilot
End of Watch: October 19, 1979
During the afternoon of October 19, 1979, Pilot Weldon Smith had been working with ground agents Roxy D. Kieffe and Frank Ureta, Jr., of Rio Grande City Border Patrol Station. They were trailing aliens on the Gallagor Ranch, about 10 miles north of Guerra, Jim Hogg County, Texas. Pilot Smith returned to McAllen to refuel. As he was returning to the location of the aliens, he passed about 100 feet over Kieffe, relocated the trail, and started relaying the location to Kieffe. He said, "I found the tr-" and quit transmitting in mid-sentence. Officer Kieffe did not see the crash, but saw the smoke and ran toward it. The plane was completely engulfed in flames, destroyed by the impact and fire. Pilot Smith died on initial impact. A Justice of the Peace from Hebbronville, Texas, held an inquest upon arrival at the scene of the accident and pronounced Pilot Smith dead. Subsequent investigation determined that the aircraft had stalled and the pilot was unable to recover from the stall.
Jesus de la Ossa
Date of Birth: June 21, 1965
Entered on Duty: November 28, 1993
Title: Senior Patrol Agent
End of Watch: October 20, 1998
On Tuesday, October 20, 1998, at 7:00 p.m., Agents Jesus De La Ossa and Thomas J. Williams were traveling to San Diego after successfully completing the Border Patrol Academy Instructor’s Course. They were involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle and lost their lives in the accident, which happened about 15 miles west of Artesia, New Mexico.
Agent De La Ossa was born in Nogales, Arizona. Before entering the Border Patrol, Agent De La Ossa served as a military policeman in the U.S. Air Force. He joined the INS as a Border Patrol Agent and was later promoted to Senior Patrol Agent. At the time of his death, his official station was Brown Field, California. He was a graduate of the 264th session of the U.S. Border Patrol Academy in Glynco, Georgia.
Thomas J. Williams
Date of Birth: July 21, 1966
Entered on Duty: May 5, 1994
Title: Senior Patrol Agent
End of Watch: October 20, 1998
On Tuesday, October 20, 1998, at 7:00 p.m., Agents Thomas J. Williams and Jesus De La Ossa were traveling to San Diego after successfully completing the Border Patrol Academy Instructor’s Course. They were involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle and lost their lives in the accident, which happened about 15 miles west of Artesia, New Mexico.
Agent Williams was born in Hazel Green, Wisconsin. He graduated from Western Illinois University Magna Cum Laude with a degree in criminal justice. He served in the Navy for four years, two of which were served on the submarine USS Henry Clay. He joined the INS as a Border Patrol Agent and was later promoted to Senior Patrol Agent. At the time of his death, his official station was Brown Field, California. He was a graduate of the 266th session of the U.S. Border Patrol Academy in Glynco, Georgia.
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.