December 10 - December 16
Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
Navigating Change with Integrity
HonorFirst.com's Ongoing Commitment to the U.S. Border Patrol Community
Welcome to a special post on HonorFirst.com, a platform that has been a cornerstone in supporting those aspiring to join the U.S. Border Patrol. Created by Ray Harris in the mid-1990s, our website began as a resource to help navigate the complexities of the U.S. Border Patrol hiring process. Over the years, we've grown and evolved, expanding in 2021 to include a broader range of content that appeals not only to prospective agents but also to current and former Border Patrol employees, as well as those with a general interest in the Border Patrol.
At the heart of our mission is a powerful motto: "Preserving the Legacy - Empowering the Future." This statement encapsulates our dual commitment: to honor the rich history and traditions of the Border Patrol and to assist the next generation of aspiring agents to enter the workforce.
Today, I want to share with you a recent decision that reflects both our adherence to this motto and our ongoing commitment to ethical and responsible information sharing. This decision, though difficult, underscores our dedication to upholding the principles of "Honor First".
The Ethos of "Honor First"
At the core of HonorFirst.com's mission lies the Border Patrol's guiding principle: "Honor First." This motto, deeply embedded in the history and traditions of the Border Patrol since the 1920s, symbolizes our unwavering commitment to integrity, honesty, and ethical conduct. It's a guiding light that ensures our actions align with the highest standards.
For nearly 25 years, HonorFirst.com has provided the USBP Academy class schedules, a service that has been a cornerstone of our support for those aspiring to join the Border Patrol. However, in keeping with the ethos of "Honor First," our recent decision to cease publishing these schedules reflects a dedication to upholding these values. This change, prompted by a conversation with Academy Chief Patrol Agent Ryan Landrum regarding the sensitivity of this information, marks the end of a long-standing service. It underscores our commitment to maintaining the trust and respect of our audience and the Border Patrol community. "Honor First" is not just a motto; it's a responsibility that guides our decisions and actions, especially in challenging situations.
This ethos, along with the Border Patrol's "Esprit de Corps" – a blend of organizational pride and employee morale – drives us at HonorFirst.com to support the Border Patrol's mission in a responsible and ethical manner. As we adapt to new challenges, our commitment to these principles remains steadfast.
The Unofficial Partnership
The relationship between HonorFirst.com and the U.S. Border Patrol, though unofficial, has been deeply impactful. This was notably recognized in 2020 when Ray Harris, the founder of HonorFirst.com and a retired U.S. Border Patrol veteran, received the USBP Commendation Medal from Chief Rodney Scott. This honor celebrated Ray's extraordinary contributions to Border Patrol recruitment through HonorFirst.com since 1996.
Ray's work, and by extension, HonorFirst.com's role, has been pivotal in bridging the gap between the Border Patrol and prospective agents. Our platform has complemented official channels by offering insights and support, evidenced by the forum's extensive reach and engagement.
Our recent decision to cease publishing USBP Academy class schedules reflects our commitment to this partnership and respect for the Border Patrol's operational integrity. While this marks a change in our long-standing practice, it aligns with our ethos of supporting the Border Patrol's mission responsibly.
As we continue, we remain dedicated to adapting our resources to support the Border Patrol community, always guided by the principle of "Honor First."
Adapting to Change
Change is an inevitable part of growth and progress, especially in the dynamic landscape of law enforcement and public service. At HonorFirst.com, adapting to change is not just about adjusting our strategies or content; it's about staying true to our core values while navigating new challenges.
The decision to stop publishing the USBP Academy class schedules is a prime example of this adaptability in action. This change ends a service we've provided for nearly 25 years, and notably, it affects our site's most visited page. The Academy Schedule page has consistently been a major draw for our audience, achieving over 3,000 views per month. Its removal is a step taken with a deep sense of responsibility, reflecting our commitment to upholding the principles of "Honor First" and ensuring the safety and integrity of the Border Patrol's operations.
We hope this change is short-lived and that we will soon be able to post a schedule that is desensitized to the comfort of the Academy. Our goal remains to provide valuable, compliant, and relevant content to our audience. We are exploring new ways to empower and inform prospective agents and those interested in the Border Patrol, ensuring that our platform continues to be a resource that aligns with both our audience's needs and the Border Patrol's standards.
As we move forward, we embrace these changes with a spirit of optimism and innovation. We believe that through adaptation, we can continue to be a beacon of support and information for the Border Patrol community, preserving the legacy of the past while empowering the future.
As we close this chapter on publishing the USBP Academy class schedules, we look ahead with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment. The journey of HonorFirst.com has always been about more than just sharing information; it's about being a steadfast ally to those who aspire to serve in the U.S. Border Patrol and to those who already wear the badge with pride.
Our decision to adapt our content in response to the evolving needs and guidelines of the Border Patrol is a reflection of our dedication to the motto "Honor First." It embodies our respect for the integrity of the Border Patrol's operations and our commitment to the safety and security of its members and applicants.
We remain deeply grateful for the trust and support of our community over the years. Your engagement and feedback have been the driving force behind our efforts. As we move forward, we invite you to continue this journey with us. HonorFirst.com will persist in its mission to preserve the legacy and empower the future of the U.S. Border Patrol, adapting to changes while upholding our core values.
Thank you for being a part of our story. We look forward to continuing to serve you with the same dedication and commitment that have been the hallmarks of HonorFirst.com.
Call to Action
As we navigate this new phase at HonorFirst.com, we warmly invite you, our esteemed community, to engage and contribute actively. Your insights and participation are vital in shaping our platform's future and enhancing the support we provide to the U.S. Border Patrol community.
Thank you for your unwavering support and active participation.
The HonorFirst.com Team
This week in USBP history, we explore significant chapters that have shaped the enduring legacy of the Border Patrol. On December 11, 1924, the foundational General Order 42 was issued, defining the iconic Border Patrol uniform that symbolizes commitment and duty. We also revisit the creation of the earliest comprehensive Border Patrol employee roster on December 12, 1929, offering a rare snapshot of the Patrol's personnel during its formative years. Moreover, we recall the courage displayed on December 13, 1930, in El Paso, Texas, where Border Patrol Inspectors fearlessly confronted alcohol smugglers. These episodes, along with numerous others, contribute to a rich tapestry of the Border Patrol's history and much more.
In this edition, we honor two Newton-Azrak Award recipients, recognized posthumously for their exceptional valor, who also join the ranks of five fallen officers we solemnly remember. Their bravery and ultimate sacrifice are a testament to the spirit and resilience of those who serve in the U.S. Border Patrol, leaving a legacy of honor and dedication.
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
Stepping into History
The 1925 U.S. Border Patrol Inspector Uniforms
Marking a pivotal moment in the heritage of the U.S. Border Patrol, this 1925 photograph showcases Patrol Inspector Thomas E. Phillips donned in one of the very first official USBP uniforms. Established under 'General Order 42' on December 11, 1924, these uniforms symbolize the enduring commitment and evolving history of the Border Patrol. As we celebrate the 99th anniversary of this significant milestone, we honor the legacy and the steadfast dedication of those who have worn the uniform with pride and distinction.
Follow this link to see examples of USBP employees Upholding Honor First.
James P. Epling
Border Patrol Agent
Border Patrol Agent James P. Epling was honored posthumously for his courage and bravery in rescuing a female alien in distress in the swift cold waters of the Colorado River and attempting to apprehend a group of illegal aliens along the riverbanks. On the evening of December 16, 2003, Agent Epling was assigned to the Yuma Border Patrol Sector in Yuma, Arizona. He was working near Andrade, California, when he was last seen attempting to apprehend a group of illegal aliens along the banks of the Colorado River. Moments prior to his disappearance, Agent Epling entered the swift, cold waters of the Colorado River to rescue a female alien in distress. Once the woman was safe, Agent Epling pursued four other individuals he observed running south toward Mexico along the riverbank in an attempt to escape arrest. This was the last time Agent Epling was seen alive. Agent Epling’s body was recovered from the river after a three-day search.
Brian A. Terry - photo
Border Patrol Agent
On December 14, 2010, Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry was conducting operations as a member of the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) in the Nogales, Arizona area of operations. Agent Terry’s team encountered five individuals, at least two of whom were armed with rifles, in the “Peck Well” area near Rio Rico, Arizona. During the attempt to arrest these individuals, the agents and suspects fired shots. Agent Terry was mortally wounded during the exchange of gunfire and succumbed to his injuries on December 15, 2010.
As of November 14, 2023 the U.S. Border Patrol has suffered 157* 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 although the circumstances surrounding their deaths met 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. Additionally, despite Border Patrol Pilot Howard H. Gay losing his life in the action that earned him the Newton-Azrak Award, his death is not officially recognized either. Nonetheless, HonorFirst.com respectfully recognizes and includes Inspector Harrell and Agent Gigax among those honored as having fallen in the line of duty.
Frank H. Clark
Date of Birth: January 4, 1879
Entered on Duty: August 5, 1924
Title: Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: December 13, 1924
While patrolling in company with another officer near Cordova Island, El Paso, Texas, on the evening of December 13, 1924, Patrol Inspector Clark was shot and killed by smuggler's spotters. They had concealed themselves at a strategic point on the American side of the international boundary line for the purpose of warning and protecting the smugglers should the presence of officers be detected. When the smugglers were challenged by the Patrol Inspectors, the spotters opened fire from ambush, and one of the shots hit Patrol Inspector Clark. His death was instantaneous. Other officers quickly took positions in concealment surrounding the scene of the action and remained there through the night. They found sacks containing illegal liquor, and they took into custody a Mexican family found on the scene searching the premises in the early morning. One of these Mexicans, Eulalio Aguilar, was subsequently indicted on charge of murder, convicted and given a 10- year sentence.
Survivor benefits - As per this document, Wife received $65 per month until their two children turned 18, then $49 per month.
Franklin P. Wood
Date of Birth: September 22, 1894
Entered on Duty: March 11, 1926
Title: Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: December 15, 1927
Patrol Inspector Franklin P. Wood stationed at Sibley, Michigan, disappeared in the early morning of December 15, 1927. On the Detroit River near Wyandotte, Michigan, under cover of darkness, Patrol Inspectors Wood, James W. Oliver, and Chief Patrol Inspector Ivan A. Hall patrolled in search of smugglers expected in the area. Two boats containing contraband liquor had been seized and were being guarded when Inspector Wood left to pursue another boat operating in the vicinity of Wyandotte. He left in pursuit of one boat loaded with aliens, while his fellow officers pursued another. His wrecked boat, rammed by the smugglers, was found on the river sometime after Patrol Inspector Wood was last seen. Patrol Inspector Wood either drowned or was killed by the smugglers and thrown into the river. His body was never found.
Survivor benefits - As per this document, his mother received $22.50 per month until her death in 1931.
Body not recovered.
Michael W. Barnes
Date of Birth: April 7, 1951
Entered on Duty: March 14, 1976
Title: Patrol Agent in Charge
End of Watch: December 12, 1996
On December 12, 1996, about 4:00 p.m., Border Patrol Agents were working on a trail on the Chittum Ranch in Carrizo Springs, Texas, assisted by a Del Rio Sector pilot. They spotted a group of about 13 illegal aliens, who ran when the agents approached them. Agents Barnes apprehended five of the aliens and turned them over to Agent Tapia. He began trying to apprehend the remainder of the group. The pilot spotted the group running along a creek bottom and was guiding agents toward the area. Agent Barnes was within about 50 yards of them when the pilot stated over the radio that Agent Barnes had gone down. He radioed Agent Barnes, but there was no response. When he notified the other agents in the area of the situation, they started making their way to assist him.
About 4:32 p.m., Agent Tapia found Agent Barnes face down. Agents determined that he was not breathing and had no pulse. They immediately started performing CPR. Pilot Snyder radioed for an ambulance and a helicopter. Agent Barnes was placed in an INS Bronco and transported to the ambulance. About 5:38 p.m., a helicopter took off with Agents Barnes and Guzman for a hospital in San Antonio, arriving at 6:13 p.m. At 6:25 p.m., a doctor advised Agent Barnes had died. The medical examiner’s office determined he had suffered a massive heart attack. Agent Barnes was born in San Antonio and grew up in Pearsall, Texas. He served as a Supervisor, Assistant Patrol Agent in Charge and Patrol Agent in Charge at the Carrizo Springs Station.
James P. Epling
Date of Birth: March 9, 1979
Entered on Duty: January 13, 2003
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: December 16, 2003
On December 16, 2003, at approximately 7:00 p.m., Border Patrol Agent James P. Epling was reported missing after responding to sensor activity along the Colorado River near Andrade, California. Agent Epling had apprehended two Chinese illegal immigrants and had rescued another from drowning in the Colorado River. He was attempting to apprehend other illegal immigrants along the river when he suddenly disappeared.
A massive rescue operation by Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue teams, as well as multiple local, State, Federal, tribal, and foreign agencies, was immediately initiated. The response and coordinated rescue effort continued for three days. On December 19, 2003, at approximately 7:15 p.m., with the aid of an underwater camera, Agent Epling’s body was located 29 feet deep in the Colorado River. He was approximately 200 yards from where it was believed he initially disappeared. The investigation revealed that Agent Epling had died as a result of accidental drowning.
Agent Epling was 24 years old and was a graduate of the 537th session of the Border Patrol Academy. On January 28, 2004, his son, James Paul Epling II, was born.
Brian A. Terry
Date of Birth August 11, 1970
Entered on Duty: July 23, 2007
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: December 15, 2010
On December 14, 2010, Agent Brian A. Terry was shot while conducting a Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) operation in the area of ‘Peck Wells’. This area is near Rio Rico, Arizona and about 15 miles north of Nogales, Arizona. At 11:15pm, Agent Terry and his team spotted a group of individuals approaching their position. An encounter ensued and gunfire was exchanged. Agent Terry succumbed to his injuries on December 15, 2010.
Agent Terry was a native of Flat Rock, Michigan. He served our country proudly with the United States Marine Corps and continued his service as a Police Officer with the cities of Ecorse and Lincoln Park prior to joining the United States Border Patrol. Agent Terry was a member of the 699th Session of the Border Patrol Academy assigned to the Naco Border Patrol Station within the Tucson Sector.
Agent Terry is survived by his mother, father, stepmother, stepfather, brother and two sisters. The Naco Border Patrol Station was later renamed in his honor.
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.