February 12 - February 18
Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
You may not know but, I attempt to contact each living Newton-Azrak Award recipient on the anniversary of their act of bravery to let them know they are remembered.
About two weeks before their anniversary, I review the information that I have on the action. If my records have no documents or photographs, or if I think the description of the action needs more detail, I will attempt to contact them before their anniversary to get the additional information. It was my privilege to contact Michael Deshaies, whose Newton-Azrak Award action anniversary is this week. He provided me with documents, photos and articles about his action that I am happy to share with you.
He and this week's other highlighted Newton-Azrak Award recipients, Carlos Lara and Joaquin Chavez will forevermore be part of USBP history!
Changing the subject, if you haven't heard, rumors are swirling that Chief of the Border Patrol Raul Ortiz may be retiring in the near future. He just celebrated his 57th birthday and without an age waiver, will retire at the end of the month.
Now, I must emphasize that no official statement has been made. I do not possess exclusive information and this is purely just a rumor at this point. Even while drafting this blog, I have received conflicting information. One person says Chief Ortiz will retire at the end of the month. Another person says that he received a waiver to stay Chief until the end of March. Nevertheless, I believe that people holding high positions should keep their workforce informed, not guessing or in limbo as to what the near future will bring. Even though an individual's date of retirement is somewhat personal, that measure of privacy should be lost the higher a person ascends within an organization.
Moving along, I think it's interesting to attempt to predict who will be selected to be the next Chief of the Border Patrol. Assuming the Patrol's 26th Chief is selected from within, it only makes sense that it would be a person who is a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES) and is a current or a former Border Patrol Agent (occupational series - 1896).
Currently, 25 people meet the criteria above as potential candidates to fill the vacancy. They include current Deputy Chief of the Border Patrol Matt Hudak, numerous SES Chief and Deputy Chief Patrol Agents, several folks who have left the 1896 series as non-uniformed SES, and three folks who would need age waivers.
Excluding Deputy Chief Patrol Agents, non-1896 personnel, and those currently on age waivers, I think that the top candidates are Matthew Hudak, Gloria Chavez, Jason Owens and John Modlin. Without diving too deep into the reasoning that I believe these four to be the top contenders, I will say this... The next Chief of the Border Patrol will be selected by Acting Commissioner Troy Miller and Secretary Mayorkas. I believe that the aforementioned, have the confidence, respect and trust of the Commissioner and the Secretary.
While the selection of the next Chief of the Border Patrol is important, what I think is even more crucial is their leadership approach. As Simon Sinek says, "It's not about being in charge. It's about taking care of those in your charge."
As I've said in other blog posts, for over a decade the morale of the USBP workforce has been low. To improve employee morale, retention, and organizational pride, the next Chief of the Border Patrol should focus on the workforce and follow Simon Sinek's principles of leadership. Here are several recommendations to consider:
This week starts with a 1926 memo criticizing Calexico. We have a 1928 memo concerning employees visiting Mexico. We have an El Paso District reorganization chart, an agency-wide badge inventory, the Academy moving from Camp Chigas and more!
We celebrate the actions of Michael Deshaies (1993) and Joaquin Chavez (2020) that led to them being recognized with Newton-Azrak Awards.
Enjoy and 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.
Michael Deshaies - photo, photo 2, Commissioner's memo, CPA memo, Commissioner's Award List, Newton-Azrak Award List, articles
Senior Patrol Agent
New Orleans Sector
Senior Patrol Agent Michael Deshaies was recognized for his efforts in saving a person from drowning near Pensacola, Florida during a unusual cold spell. On February 18, 1993, Agent Deshaies encountered several people believed to be illegally present in the United States at a construction worksite. As Agent Deshaies approached, several of the suspected illegal aliens fled. Although the air temperature was approximately 18 degrees Fahrenheit, three of the men jumped into a 100' wide canal in an attempt to escape. Two of the fleeing suspects made it to the other side. However, the third man struggled to stay afloat in the cold, muddy water. When the third person disappeared under the water, in an act of unparalleled bravery and heroism, Agent Deshaies exhibited total disregard for his personal safety and dove into the frigid water. Agent Deshaies was able to find the unconscious man under the water and pull him safely to shore. The victim, a fleeing illegal alien, survived solely due to the actions of Agent Deshaies.
Carlos A. Lara - photo
Border Patrol Agent
El Centro, CA
On February 18, 2019, Border Patrol Agent Carlos Lara was assigned to the Calexico Station’s area of responsibility when, beyond the call of duty and facing grave danger he entered the All-American Canal to rescue a man in distress. Before entering the water, several attempts to assist the drowning man were made using a rescue disc. Once it was determined that the rescue disc was ineffective, Agent Lara disregarded the danger of the swift current and entered the frigid and treacherous water. Agent Lara swam to the victim, took control of him and pulled him back to the canal bank and to safety. Agent Lara’s quick and selfless response at the risk of his own life prevented the loss of another life. Agent Lara’s actions brought great credit upon himself and United States Border Patrol.
Joaquin Chavez - photo, award certificate
Border Patrol Agent
Eagle Pass North Station
Eagle Pass, TX
Border Patrol Agent Joaquin Chavez is recognized for heroic actions resulting in the rescue of three Haitian nationals from the Rio Grande River on February 12, 2022. Understanding the risks and disregarding his personal safety, Agent Chavez entered the Rio Grande River to rescue three subjects, which included an unresponsive adult male who would have otherwise drowned. The swift actions of Agent Chavez, a product of extensive training and experience, prevented a critical situation from resulting in certain fatal consequences. Agent Chavez's actions reflect 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.
There are no anniversaries for the fallen this week.
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.