April 30 - May 6
Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
I hope you don't mind getting this a day early. I'll be on a plane tomorrow morning and would rather be early than late.
I am always looking to improve the blog to provide a better experience for the reader and to encourage greater participation. Recently, I've initiated two improvements:
*** News Flash ***
On Friday, three BORTAC agents were honored with the Newton-Azrak Award for their exceptional bravery and dedication to duty in the face of grave danger. These courageous agents, along with two accompanying sheriff's deputies, entered classroom 111 at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. Upon entering, they were met with gunfire and quickly responded, bringing a tragic school shooting to an end. Unfortunately, the incident claimed the lives of 19 innocent individuals.
The awards ceremony in which those agents were presented Newton-Azrak Awards occurred at the Del Rio Sector, led by Chief Patrol Agent Jason Owens. Many other awards were presented at that ceremony, including a Purple Cross. I believe the Purple Cross was presented to Border Patrol Agent (BORTAC Operator) Wayne Jackson, who received multiple wounds during the room entry at Robb Elementary School, as reported by the San Antonio Express-News. There were also approximately 30 USBP Commendation Medals awarded for both exceptional meritorious achievements and extraordinary heroism. There were also well over 100 USBP Achievement Medals awarded, including approximately 10 to a group of agents for their service at Robb Elementary School.
It is common knowledge that the law enforcement response to Robb Elementary School was as bad as can be imagined. The numerous investigations into the response will assign responsibility, and officers will be held accountable. However, the many faults that occurred do not erase the instances of heroism and accomplishments that did occur. It is important for the Patrol and its leaders to provide affirmation to the agents that did well, even in the face of a tragedy where so much went wrong.
I commend the U.S. Border Patrol leadership who risk public scrutiny “…to take care of those in their charge,” as Simon Sinek recommends.
After the Del Rio Sector’s awards ceremony, I received a flood of emails, messages, and phone calls from thankful agents telling me of the recognitions they had received. At a time when the Patrol and its workforce are struggling, this focus on the workforce was needed and deserved.This compelled me to put pen to paper, and I wrote the following USBP leaders an email:
My motivation was to express gratitude for the awards ceremony, encourage leadership, and foster appreciation within the agency. I also aimed to support them by providing positive feedback while showing that I can acknowledge positive actions despite past criticisms.
As leaders, we often find ourselves on the receiving end of criticism, and I must admit I have been among those critics at times. However, today I am writing to express my gratitude and admiration for your exceptional leadership in recognizing the achievements of the Del Rio Sector Border Patrol agents. I have received numerous phone calls, messages, and emails from agents of all ranks expressing their joy and appreciation for the acknowledgment they received during today's awards ceremony.
The event saw three agents awarded the Newton-Azrak Award, one agent the USBP Purple Cross (with "V" device?), 30 USBP Commendation Medals, and over 100 USBP Achievement Medals. Recognizing the service, accomplishments, and heroism of our workforce is of utmost importance. It is essential for leaders to demonstrate their appreciation for employees who embody the organization's values through such awards.
Acknowledging outstanding performance not only provides affirmation to employees that their efforts exceeded expectations, but it also offers reassurance even when the outcomes may not have been ideal. The agents who responded to Uvalde take solace in the fact that their leadership and the Patrol have officially recognized their actions as commendable.
On behalf of the hundreds of agents who may not have the opportunity to express their gratitude directly, I extend my heartfelt thanks to you and your teams for a job well done. Your efforts to value and appreciate our workforce have made a significant impact.
Wishing you all a fantastic weekend!
This week, we'll dive into the U.S. Border Patrol's history, starting with Frank Berkshire's 1918 proposal and the Commissioner-General's letter on German activity. We'll explore the establishment of the Senior Patrol Inspector position, the story of Paul L.D. Calloway, the first African American Border Patrol Inspector, and the 1956 border fence cost analysis. Join us as we uncover these fascinating stories and much more!
There are no Newton-Azrak Award anniversaries for the week. However, there are several actions for which the date is unknown. I will highlight some of those below. In 1982, three of the 26 non-USBP Newton-Azrak Award recipients received their recognitions.
We remember Nathaniel A. Afolayan on the anniversary of his death.
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.
THROWBACK PHOTO OF THE WEEK
This close-up photo, believed to be taken in 1936, features two seasoned El Centro Sub-district Border Patrol Inspectors. In 1936, the Patrol transitioned from wearing puttees or boots and riding breeches to pants. The inspector on the left dons two stars and a bar, signifying at least 12 years of service, suggesting he was likely one of the first Border Patrol Inspectors in 1924. Partially visible between them is another inspector with three-inch stripes on his sleeves. Based on his position in the group, these stripes are probably silver, indicating the rank of Senior Patrol Inspector.
Learn more about the Patrol's early rank insignia here.
Follow this link to see examples of USBP employees Upholding Honor First.
El Paso, Texas
Investigator Hipolito Acosta was recognized for his participation in several highly complex and dangerous undercover investigations resulting in the seizure of thousands of altered and counterfeit documents, and the arrest and convictions of the most notorious vendors of counterfeit documents ever encountered in the Chicago area.
San Antonio, Texas
Investigator Gary Renick was recognized for his efforts in gathering crucial evidence which aided the Drug Enforcement Administration in the seizure of five kilos of heroin, and which resulted in the arrest of a three-time convicted alien smuggler. He was also credited with uncovering widespread corruption at the State of Illinois driver’s license facilities.
Investigator Richard Shuler was recognized for his courageous act in rescuing an individual from a burning building at risk to his own life.
As of March 6, 2023 the U.S. Border Patrol has suffered 154* 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.
Agent Gigax is buried in Florida's 5th Congressional District. I contacted Congressman John Rutherford for assistance in this case. Please contact the Congressman Rutherford if you would like to help.
Nathaniel A. Afolayan
Date of Birth: March 26, 1980
Entered on Duty: February 16, 2009
Title: Border Patrol Agent (Trainee)
End of Watch: May 1, 2009
On April 30, 2009, newly hired Agent Nathaniel A. Afolayan collapsed during a physical training exam. Agent Afolayan had just completed the 1.5-mile run portion of his physical techniques final exam. After his collapse, he was transported via ambulance to Artesia General Hospital. Later that day, his condition worsened and he was taken via life-flight to Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas. Agent Afolayan died May 1, 2009. An autopsy concluded his death was accidental due to heat illness.
Agent Afolayan was a native of Nigeria. He was a member of the 856th Session of the Border Patrol Academy and was to be assigned to the Newton-Azrak Station in the San Diego Sector.
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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.