This Week in USBP History, Vol. 78
February 26 - March 4
Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
The U.S. Border Patrol's Values (Part 2)
In last week's blog we started exploring the Patrol's values. We focused on the USBP motto, Honor First, and its origins. The blog's intro finished with a recommendation: the Patrol would benefit by defining Honor First and providing concrete guidance to the foundational "watchword" of the organization. This, in turn, would inevitably help to improve organizational culture and solidify USBP values.
But what if I were to tell you that in 2018, the Patrol codified its values? They did! There are policy documents that clearly define the Patrol's values, including:
An organization's values are codified in its awards system. The U.S. Border Patrol's Honorary Awards demonstrate the values that the Patrol holds in high regard, including administrative accomplishments, acts of heroism and valor, law enforcement actions, and lifesaving actions. The Patrol has developed a series of tables to assist in identifying the proper award for which an employee should be nominated and presented. These tables are a clear and concise codification of the Patrol's values. When you read the tables, think of them from the perspective that they are the Patrol's values codified.
So you know, a "non-traditional award" is anything that can be bought for less than $100 that is give as an award. These items can be something purchased from the local trophy shop, pocket knives, etc...
TABLE #1 - ADMINISTRATIVE DUTIES AWARD GUIDANCE
Table #1 assists in identifying the appropriate award for employees based on their administrative accomplishments. The table evaluates the value of the achievement and identifies the award to which the employee should be nominated. For example, an employee who creates a substantial change to a program that impacts a sector should be nominated for a USBP Achievement Award.
TABLE #2 - HEROIC AND VALOROUS ACT AWARD GUIDANCE
Table #2 assists in identifying the appropriate award for employees who faced danger while in the scope of duty. The nominator determines the level of danger faced and evaluates the employee's performance during the action. For example, an employee who faced great danger while performing beyond the call of duty should be nominated for a USBP Commendation Award with a "V" Device. Lifesaving actions that do not involve danger to the employee are recognized under Table #4 and are not considered acts of heroism or valor.
TABLE #3 - LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTION AWARD GUIDANCE
Table #3 was developed to provide a means to recognized employees for performing their primary function. Recognitions under this table should be presented in greater numbers than any of the other tables.
In utilizing this table, the nominator would determine the intersection of the employee's actions. For example, and employee making an "exceptional" "misdemeanor" arrest/seizure should be nominated for the USBP Achievement Award.
TABLE #4 - LIFESAVING ACTION AWARD GUIDANCE
An employee’s performance during a lifesavings act is the primary measure to identify the proper award.
Lifesaving actions under this table do not involve danger to the employee. If danger is present, then the action should be considered heroic/valorous and Table #2 used to evaluate the appropriate recognition.
But it's not enough for an organization to have an awards system. Employees must actually receive recognition for upholding those stated values. The old saying holds true: "Actions and inactions speak louder than words." A person (and an organization) can be judged more accurately through their deeds than by their words.
The USBP Honorary Awards were designed to displace non-traditional awards (such as cash, time-off, pocket knives, etc.) as recognition items for lesser yet worthy achievements, service, and heroism. Further, the intent for the USBP Achievement Award was for the decoration to be given generously, to be presented to approximately 10% of the workforce per year, with the most common reason being for law enforcement actions. If it's happening, I just don't see it...
In September 2022, I wrote about meeting Chief of the Border Patrol Raul Ortiz in his office and speaking about his decision to reconsider award nominations that he had previously disapproved for the worthy past actions of 370 employees (This Week in USBP History, Vol. 52). I hadn't heard about any of those nominations being considered or being presented, and had been contemplating reaching out to Chief Ortiz about it. Well, last weekend I was in my local grocery store and ran into an off-duty active agent. During the course of our conversation, that agent told me that he was a member of the HQ awards panel and that they had been going through the list of the worthy actions of those 370 employees at a rate of 30-40 per month. Actions speak louder than words. That is an example of the workforce being valued.
As someone who speaks to agents of all ranks throughout the nation, follows all of the sectors on social media, and is always on the watch for anything that would impact the Patrol's organizational pride and employee morale, I can say that I neither hear nor see very many employees being recognized for their good deeds, nor do I see very many employees wearing their USBP Honorary Awards. There is great room for improvement.
Here at HonorFirst.com we have several pages devoted to employees who have been recognized for upholding the Patrol's values, Upholding Honor First. Explore them, I think you'll find them very interesting. Also, if you have an award that you received for your USBP work, send it my way so I can post it! Email it to email@example.com.
Now, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that USBP Honorary Awards are for all USBP employees, not just agents. Many of the Patrol's professional staff have been recipients of the awards, receiving identical award sets and certificate as their agent coworkers. The photograph below was taken at USBP HQ in Washington D.C. and is of a display of the USBP Honorary Award medal sets, certificates and the Newton-Azrak Award statuette. Each of the metal sets includes a lapel device that was designed so that non-uniformed, professional staff would have the option of displaying their recognition on their clothing should they choose.
As the intern wear guidance was being drafted for agents to be able to display their awards in uniform, the proposal was submitted and approved to authorize the lapel device for wear on the rough duty uniform (Class C). That would allow agents to display a recognition item on their uniform and provided a shared insignia between the uniformed and non-uniformed workforce.
This is a HUGE week in USBP history! We start with a 1907 complaint written to President Teddy Roosevelt against Jeff Milton. We have the passage of the Immigration Act of 1925 that finally gave Border Patrol Inspectors legal authority to do their jobs. In 1926, we have a District Director that wanted Border Patrol Inspectors to conceal their firearms while in uniform! We have the famed and must read Forty Suggestions from 1928, and the renaming of U.S. Customs Service to Customs and Border Protection in 2003, and more!
We remember the heroism of two Newton-Azrak Award recipients on the anniversaries of their actions.
And we remember two of our fallen on the anniversaries of their deaths.
Enjoy and have a great week!
ESPRIT DE CORPS
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.
DOCUMENTS AND EVENTS
NEWTON-AZRAK AWARD ACTION ANNIVERSARIES
Follow this link to see examples of USBP employees Upholding Honor First.
Border Patrol Agent
Border Patrol Agent David Gutierrez was recognized for his courage and heroism in saving an individual from a flaming auto crash on March 1, 1984. The crash vehicle was engulfed in flames when BPA Gutierrez, without concern for his own life, pulled the driver from the car to safety. Although the crash victim received second and third degree burns over 65 percent of his body, his life was saved thanks to Gutierrez’s quick action.
Michael F. McCarson
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent
Del Rio Sector
On March 1, 1999, in the early morning hours, agents working the Comstock checkpoint witnessed a vehicle crash through a fence and go out of control after hitting a deer on the highway, causing the vehicle to overturn and burst into flames. Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Michael F. McCarson, upon witnessing the crash, immediately recognized the severity of the situation and acted with total disregard for his personal safety by fighting the flames and pulling the injured driver from the burning vehicle before it was totally overcome with fire.
Simultaneous with these life-saving actions, SBPA McCarson directed on-scene agents in rendering assistance while ensuring their safety at all times, coordinated an emergency response with local officers and emergency personnel, as well as performed first-aid treatment to the injured driver. SBPA McCarson’s immediate and skillful emergency actions not only prevented a tragedy from escalating to a casualty, but clearly demonstrated his training and experience as a Border Patrol Agent and his dedication to his work.
Manuel E. Barreda
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent
Rio Grande Valley Sector, Fort Brown Station
On the night of February 27, 2012, Agent Barreda witnessed a group of individuals attempting to cross the treacherous waters of the Brownsville Navigation Ship Channel, a 44-foot-deep and several hundred foot-wide waterway designed for large vessels. Agent Barreda observed that one of the individuals, later identified as Angel Celestino-Alvarado, was struggling to swim and keep his head above water.
Agent Barreda quickly evaluated the situation and notified the U.S. Coast Guard. He realized, however, that because of the frigid temperature of the water, the Coast Guard might not reach the victim before he succumbed to hypothermia or exhaustion. Agent Barreda jumped into the channel and swam 120 feet toward the drowning man, who advised Agent Barreda that he could no longer feel his legs or arms. Agent Barreda quickly secured the individual in his grasp and towed him toward the shore.
As Agent Barreda swam back to the bank of the channel in the dark with the victim in tow, he began to suffer effects from the cold water. Border Patrol Agent Jacob Gamboa, who had been nearby and was coordinating the rescue effort from the shoreline and monitoring Agent Barreda, entered the freezing water without hesitation and assisted Agent Barreda and the victim safely back to the bank of the Brownsville Navigation Ship Channel.
Agent Barreda’s heroic choice to voluntarily enter the water, coupled with Agent Gamboa’s assistance, led to the victim’s successful rescue when otherwise, he most certainly would have drowned.
U.S. BORDER PATROL FALLEN
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.
Ralph W. Ramsey
Date of Birth: February 22, 1915
Entered on Duty: May 29, 1941
Title: Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: February 26, 1942
Patrol Inspector Ralph W. Ramsey was killed on February 26, 1942, in Columbus, New Mexico, while attempting to board a freight train in search of aliens illegally in the United States. Patrol Inspector Harry E. Lennon, in charge of the two-man unit stationed in Columbus, was working with Inspector Ramsey at the time of the accident and related the following concerning the events at the time of the accident. The officers, while patrolling to the east of Columbus, observed an open boxcar on a regular westbound freight heading towards Columbus. The officers returned to Columbus, checked an eastbound freight train at a siding, and awaited the incoming westbound train. Inspector Ramsey took up a position between the siding and the main line while Inspector Lennon stood opposite him across the main line tracks. It was customary that the train crew halt the westbound freight at a water tower.
The officers had stationed themselves in the vicinity of the open boxcar they had observed. On this occasion; however, the train did not stop, proceeding on in order to clear the main track for the train on the siding. Apparently, Inspector Ramsey attempted to board the train when the open boxcar passed him. The first indication Inspector Lennon had that an accident had occurred was when he noticed an object beneath the moving train and realized it was his partner's body. As soon as the train passed, Inspector Lennon rushed to Inspector Ramsey. Death occurred within seconds after he reached his side.
Daniel M. James, Jr.
Date of Birth: April 17, 1970
Entered on Duty: September 21, 1998
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: March 2, 2001
On Monday, January 29, 2001, Border Patrol Agent Daniel M. James, Jr. and his partner were turning their Service vehicle around at the junction of Highways 716 and 429 to pursue three vehicles reported to be carrying illegal aliens. They hit a dip in the road, which caused the vehicle to overturn several times. Agent James was thrown from the vehicle and pinned against a fence. He was taken to Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. He passed away on Friday, March 2, 2001, because of injuries sustained in the accident.
Agent James was a native of Canton, Ohio. He served in the U.S. Marines from March 1988 to June 1996. He was a graduate of the 389th session of the Border Patrol Academy in Glynco, Georgia. At the time of his death, his official station was Freer, Texas.
Cremated, Ashes scattered
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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 Senior Patrol Agent and retired Immigration Special Agent.
U.S. Border Patrol historian and retired Deputy Chief Patrol Agent.
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