February 5 - February 11
Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
Sadly as we age, death becomes a more frequent visitor to us.
Earlier last week, I heard of the passing of retired Assistant Chief Eric Gough. He was only 60 years old, only three years into retirement, and gone far too soon.
I've often said, "No matter who you are, you're someone's villain." But Eric was the exception to that statement. I never met a person who did not think well of him. He was universally liked. He was passionate and enthusiastic about his work, and caring and engaging with every person he encountered. It is said that happiness is found by living in the moment. When you spoke to Eric, you could tell that he was in the moment with you, that you had his full attention.
Eric had an unusually varied and successful career. As Chief of the Border Patrol Carla Provost wrote in his retirement letter:
First off and most importantly, congratulations on your retirement! Id like to express my sincerest gratitude for your dedicated service and selfless dedication and integrity for over two decades as a Border Patrol Agent. Your kindness and welcoming demeanor has not gone unnoticed by your peers and has been a pleasure to all who have worked beside you.
You entered on duty with the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) on December 2, 1996, as a member of Class 326. Your first duty assignment as a Border Patrol Agent was at the Yuma Station, Yuma Sector, where you were soon promoted to Senior Patrol Agent in 2001 before taking the same position a year later in Port Huron, Michigan, Detroit Sector. In 2006, you accepted a Supervisory Border Patrol Agent position at USBP Headquarters before your promotion to Operations Officer in 2007. That same year, you took a Supervisory position as a Firearms Program Specialist under the Office of Training and Development. In 2011, you promoted once more, this time as a manager and Regional Command Representative to Afghanistan where you were awarded several medals of valor after engaging and terminating an armed assailant who had ambushed members of your team. Finally in 2015, you promoted to Assistant Chief Patrol Agent at USBP Headquarters, Intelligence Division, where you oversaw the Law Enforcement Technical Collections program for the entire agency.
Eric was also a BORSTAR agent having graduated with BORSTAR Class 5. He was a member of CBP deployments to both Afghanistan and Iraq. He was the first recipient of CBP's highest award, the CBP Medal of Honor for Heroism. He was also a recipient of the Border Patrol's highest recognition, the Newton-Azrak Award.
Eric Gough's Newton-Azrak Award
Eric C. Gough - photo
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent
Advanced Training Center
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
On July 22, 2012, at approximately 7:00 p.m. in Herat, Afghanistan, an armed assailant, alleged to be an Afghan National Policeman, opened fire on government contractors and CBP personnel at the Herat Regional Training Center in Afghanistan. The assailant approached from a blind spot behind a vehicle and opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle, killing two people immediately. As the assailant continued his attack, personnel attempted to take cover in a nearby bunker, and three additional people were shot, one fatally. Hearing the gunfire, Agent Eric Gough swiftly headed toward the location. As the assailant continued to fire, Agent Gough tactically approached and then stopped the threat by returning fire, which resulted in the death of the assailant.
Upon stopping the threat, Agent Gough, also a Border Search Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) member, administered aid to the wounded. The combat medical care he provided to Border Management Task Force member Dana Hampton is credited with saving his life. Hampton was shot three times and was in critical condition, including a severe wound to the abdomen. Agent Gough stabilized Hampton’s injuries, assisted with transport, and remained with him until proper medical attention could be provided. In the course of the transport, Agent Gough had to overcome security obstacles caused by a lockdown of the compound and medical facility. Agent Gough’s perseverance and tenacity ensured that Dana Hampton was given proper medical care in a timely manner.
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker lauded Agent Gough’s heroic actions and acknowledged that his decisiveness saved numerous lives. Additional accolades were received from the Department of Defense’s U.S. Central Command, Customs and Border Protection, and the Department of Homeland Security.
Eric Gough's Awards and Recognitions (Displayed on his Uniform)
A truly great man, gone far too soon.
This week's update starts with a 1911 Mounted Inspector announcement. We have 1918, 10-page summary of the status of the Mexican border written by the Father of the Border Patrol, a 5-page report covering modern-day Buffalo Sector from 1928, a blueprint for a reorganization of the El Paso District sub-districts from 1930, the Patrol's involvement in a spy exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union in 1962, and more!
We remember two Border Patrol heroes on the anniversary of the Newton-Azrak Award action.
And we remember Patrol Inspector Norman G. Ross on the anniversary of his death.
Have a great week!
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.
Follow this link to see examples of USBP employees Upholding Honor First.
Gregory M. Stecher - photo
Border Patrol Agent
In the morning hours of February 11, 2005, Agent Stecher responded to a call to support a Coast Guard rescue mission involving a partially submerged vehicle on the thin ice of Lake Champlain. Two men had become stranded on the snow-covered ice when their vehicle broke through the ice. The USCG Rescue team became exhausted with the onset of hypothermia and requested assistance. Agent Stecher was aware that recent weather conditions were conducive to thin ice and that another rescue snowmobile had already broken through the ice. Beyond the call of duty and facing grave danger, Agent Stecher operated his snowmobile on the thin ice and rescued one of the fishermen while his partner and Vermont Fish and Game units rescued the Coast Guardsmen. While speeding to shore with a victim onboard, Agent Stecher’s snowmobile began to break through the ice. Only by maintaining very high speed was he able to stay afloat and complete the rescue. Agent Stecher’s actions brought great credit upon himself and the United States Border Patrol.
George P. Woodward - photo
Border Patrol Agent
In the morning hours of February 11, 2005, Agent Woodward responded to a call to support a Coast Guard rescue mission involving a partially submerged vehicle on the thin ice of Lake Champlain. Two men had become stranded on the snow-covered ice when their vehicle broke through the ice. The USCG Rescue team became exhausted with the onset of hypothermia and requested assistance. Agent Woodward was aware that recent weather conditions were conducive to thin ice and that another rescue snowmobile had already broken through the ice. Beyond the call of duty and facing grave danger, Agent Woodward operated his snowmobile on the thin ice and rescued one of the fishermen while his partner and Vermont Fish and Game units rescued the Coast Guardsmen. While speeding to shore with a victim onboard, Agent Woodward's snowmobile began to break through the ice. Only by maintaining very high speed was he able to stay afloat and complete the rescue. Agent Woodward's actions brought great credit upon himself and the United States Border Patrol.
As of December 7, 2022, the U.S. Border Patrol has suffered 153* fallen.
The names that appear below hold a place of honor. They have made the ultimate sacrifice in an effort to fulfill the oath each officer took to protect and defend the United States of America.
The facts regarding each officer are presented without major editing of the "language of the day" found in the reports detailing the circumstances of each event. This is done to provide the reader an association with historical timeframes.
Employees who died in the line of duty due to being exposed to deadly illnesses will not have the cause of death listed.
I will note that Border Patrol Agent John Charles Gigax is not recognized as officially fallen by Customs and Border Protection or the U.S. Border Patrol. The Border Patrol Foundation and the Border Patrol Museum also fail to recognize him. He is remembered by all except organizations containing "Border Patrol" in their title. He is remembered by the:
The U.S. Border Patrol, the Border Patrol Foundation, and the Border Patrol Museum should fix their oversight.
HonorFirst.com remembers and lists Agent Gigax among the fallen.
Norman G. Ross
Date of Birth: May 15, 1901
Entered on Duty: February 23, 1926
Title: Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: February 10, 1928
Patrol Inspector Norman G. Ross was shot and killed near Kane Springs, California, on the afternoon of February 10, 1928. He had arrested two Mexican aliens and was attempting to convey them to Patrol Headquarters at El Centro. The aliens, in whose car they were being transported, had a revolver concealed in the automobile, which one of the aliens used to kill Inspector Ross. His body was found on the back seat of the aliens' abandoned car. He had been shot through the head.
Survivor benefits - As per this document, his wife received $67.50 per month for her and one child.
Honor First Pages
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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.