May 7 - May 13
Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
!!! NEWS FLASH !!!
On May 2, 2023, Border Patrol Agent Travis Creteau was presented the Newton-Azrak Award as described in the following::
On August 5, 2012, Border Patrol Agent Travis Creteau displayed exceptional valor and determination in a daring attempt to save the lives of two young children, Giuliana Figueroa and Lesette Silva, from a submerged vehicle in the Otay Reservoir. When the car, driven by Arlene Hernandez, veered off the road and flipped into the water, BPA Creteau acted selflessly and without hesitation.
Risking his own life and facing grave danger, BPA Creteau performed beyond the call of duty as he bravely dove into the murky waters multiple times to locate and extract the trapped children from the vehicle. His tireless efforts demonstrated remarkable strength, resolve, and an unwavering commitment to saving the lives of the children.
Agent Creteau's courageous actions, along with the assistance of fellow U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and civilians, stand as a testament to his exemplary service and dedication to the United States Border Patrol. His actions brought great credit upon himself and the United States Border Patrol.
If you haven't already observed, my consistent aim is to craft engaging introductions that uplift the morale of the Border Patrol workforce and foster a sense of organizational pride. With that in mind, I'd like to extend an open invitation to everyone: If you're interested in contributing a guest blog, please submit your piece to Cliff@HonorFirst.com. Kindly ensure that your submission aligns with the overarching theme of bolstering workforce morale, promoting organizational pride, and offering effective solutions.
Now to today's intro!
12 Steps to Becoming a Great Leader: Recommendations for U.S. Border Patrol to Improve their FEVS Score and Build Upon their Unique Culture
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, of which the Patrol comprises about 40%, has been ranked 419 out of 432 subcomponent agencies in the federal civilian government by the Partnership for Public Service based on the 2022 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. To help USBP improve their FEVS score, I present 12 recommendations inspired by Simon Sinek's approach to leadership and the article, "How do you retain officers? Be a great leader." In this piece, I've attempted to marry these ideas together to make a comprehensive recommendation that may be beneficial to the U.S. Border Patrol. By focusing on the idea that "it's not about being in charge, but taking care of those in your charge," the U.S. Border Patrol can become a better organization with improved employee satisfaction and retention. To better understand the importance of these recommendations, let's first explore the unique culture of the Border Patrol and its origins.
The Border Patrol's Culture and Origins:
As written in This Week in USBP History, Vol. 53, the U.S. Border Patrol's culture can be traced back to its early days, marked by the rugged independence and fearlessness of Immigrant Inspector Jeff Milton, and early Patrol Inspectors like Wesley Stiles. From its inception, the Border Patrol has been characterized by a strong sense of self-governance, honor, and courage. The organization's motto, "Honor First," reflects the higher purpose and authority that guides its officers in their duties.
The unique culture of the Border Patrol lives in its workforce and is codified in its awards system, the USBP Honorary Awards, which recognizes administrative excellence, heroism, valor, law enforcement actions, lifesaving efforts, and service. This culture has shaped the organization, enabling its officers to confidently step outside of their assigned lanes and pursue their goals fearlessly.
With this understanding of the Border Patrol's culture, we can now delve into the 12 recommendations to improve the FEVS score and build upon this foundation.
Improving the U.S. Border Patrol's FEVS score requires strengthening and building upon the organization's existing Esprit De Corps, rooted in its values, traditions, and honor. By following the 12 recommendations outlined above, USBP leaders—from first-line Supervisory Border Patrol Agents to the Chief of the Border Patrol—can foster a more positive and effective work environment that embraces the organization's unique culture, ultimately leading to better employee satisfaction and retention. Understanding and valuing the origins of the Border Patrol's culture, ensuring the effective use of USBP Honorary Awards, and addressing the challenges faced by agents, such as the aging fleet, will help leadership guide the organization towards continued growth and success.
This week in USBP history, we begin on May 13, 1924, when the San Antonio District informed the Central Office about the number of additional guards required. Fast forward to 1928, a bill was introduced proposing the establishment of the Patrol as an independent agency under the Department of Labor. In 1968, 38 Patrol Inspectors were assigned to Washington D.C. and deputized as U.S. Marshals to provide assistance during the event called Resurrection City, and much more!
For the current week, there are no known anniversaries for Newton-Azrak Award actions. However, it is important to note that numerous actions have taken place with unspecified dates. As an example, in 1984, five individuals were honored with Newton-Azrak Awards, but the dates of their respective actions remain unknown. They are highlighted this week..
During this week, we solemnly remember seven fallen heroes, including Hector R. Clark and Eduardo Rojas, Jr., who tragically lost their lives in the same incident in 2011. It is with a heavy heart that we acknowledge the nine separate occasions on which the USBP has experienced the devastating loss of two Agents/Inspectors in a single event, totaling 18 fallen. We honor their memory and sacrifice, with their names listed below:
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
The photograph above is the 48th Session of the Border Patrol Academy taken in front of Camp Chigas in 1953.
Border Patrol policy mandated khakis uniforms on the southern border 1951-1955. However, photographs show that khaki uniforms were worn in the lower Rio Grande Valley as early as 1949.
See this 1951 document and this 1954 document.
Follow this link to see examples of USBP employees Upholding Honor First.
Investigator Mark Cangemi was recognized for a successful undercover operation resulting in the break-up of two major smuggling rings operating in the U.S., which moved more than 175 aliens per month, and grossed over $700 thousand monthly. Cangemi, at risk to himself, worked undercover as a transporter for a major smuggling organization operating out of Chicago from July 1983 to May 1984. He transported illegal aliens, had numerous contacts with organization members, including the Mexican connection, and met other members who were involved in the sale of narcotics, firearms, and counterfeit documents. As a result of this extremely dangerous assignment, the Service was able to uncover the widespread movement of hundreds of Yugoslavian aliens into the U.S. through Mexico from Europe.
Oscar H. Garza Jr.
Stephan A. Peregoy
Investigator Oscar H. Garza Jr. and Investigator Stephan A. Peregoy were recognized for their unusual courage in a life-threatening situation involving investigation of a violence-oriented alien smuggling organization named “Las Tejas.” The investigation resulted in the arrests of over 100 organizational principals, apprehension of 2,000 aliens, and the seizure of 85 vehicles. Additionally, the Government of Mexico agreed to prosecute the organization head, who was continuing to direct the operation from the sanctuary of Mexico.
John A. Kalabus
Border Patrol Agent
Border Patrol Agent John A. Kalabus was recognized for saving a potential drowning victim from the Colorado River. While patrolling along the Mexican Border, Kalabus encountered two illegal aliens, one of whom jumped into the river attempting to return to Mexico. He was caught in a whirlpool and unable to get free. Without thought to his own safety, Kalabus swam to the alien and after several efforts, was successful in breaking the alien and himself free from the strong undertow and returning safely to shore.
Michael A. Lewis
Border Patrol Agent
Border Patrol Agent Michael A. Lewis was recognized for his courageous actions in saving three aliens from possible drowning. During a farm and ranch check, a number of illegal alien workers began fleeing when Lewis spotted three who had jumped in a nearby 16-foot deep canal. Two of the aliens were able to reach the other side but the third was floundering helplessly in the middle of the canal. Lewis, at risk to his own life, jumped into the water and upon reaching the panic-stricken alien, was able to gain control and pull him to safety. He then proceeded to assist the other two individuals, who were still in the canal, by swimming to them with a lifeline and pulling them to safety.
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.
Charles L. Hopkins
Date of Birth: February 23, 1881
Entered on Duty: December 24, 1912
Title: Mounted Watchman
End of Watch: May 8, 1919
On May 8, 1919, at 10:15 p.m., Mounted Watchman Charles Lloyd Hopkins was shot by smugglers on the banks of the Rio Grande River, near Laredo, Texas. He died three hours later in Mercy Hospital, Laredo. Reportedly, the shot that killed Mounted Watchman Hopkins was the first one fired in a general gun battle between smugglers and federal officers in which a United States Public Health Service Guard, Ira Hill, and several of the Mexican smugglers were also killed.
Xavier G. Magdaleno
Date of Birth: September 9, 1950
Entered on Duty: September 15, 1980
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: May 10, 1995
On May 10, 1989, Border Patrol Agent Xavier G. Magdaleno and his partner were driving their vehicle alongside the railroad tracks in an area of the El Paso Sector known as the “slag pits.”
The agents were driving east between the slag piles and outbound tracks. A train was coming toward them on these tracks. Once clear of the slag piles, Agent Magdaleno tried to execute a 180-degree turn. The wheels of the vehicle began to slide in the soft slag. The vehicle would not respond to the steering wheel; instead, it plowed forward, alongside the incoming tracks. The agents did not see the incoming train because of the slag piles and the curve of the track until it was about 75 yards from the vehicle. Agent Magdaleno put the vehicle into reverse in an attempt to get out of the train’s way. However, the train struck the vehicle on the passenger side and threw the rear of the vehicle toward the track, striking it again. On the initial impact, Agent Magdaleno’s partner was thrown out of the vehicle away from the train. The second impact threw Agent Magdaleno out of the vehicle, and it came to rest on top of him. He was pinned under the wreckage for 45 minutes. When freed, he was taken to R.E. Thomason General Hospital, where surgery was performed. He was paralyzed from the neck down, requiring ventilator assistance. He died from his injuries on May 10, 1995. Agent Magdaleno was a graduate of the 139th session of the Border Patrol Academy and was assigned to the El Paso Station at the time of his death.
Richard M. Goldstein
Date of Birth: September 10, 1969
Entered on Duty: March 25, 2002
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: May 11, 2007
On May 11, 2007, Agent Richard M. Goldstein drowned in the Coachella Canal near Niland, California, east of the Salton Sea. After he went missing, Agent Goldstein’s canine partner was found sitting alongside his vehicle, which was parked and idling near the canal. The Customs and Border Protection and California Highway Patrol Air divisions assisted several Border Patrol Agents in the search for the missing agent. A short time later, he was found drowned a few miles from his vehicle.
Agent Goldstein’s K-9 partner, Carlo, was wet, and markings in the area indicated the dog had been in the water and struggled to get out of the canal. Early reports indicated that Agent Goldstein entered the canal in order to rescue his K-9 partner.
Agent Goldstein was a five-year veteran of the Border Patrol and was assigned to the El Centro Sector’s Indio Station.
Hector R. Clark
Date of Birth November 16, 1971
Entered on Duty: August 20, 2001
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: May 12, 2011
On the morning of May 12, 2011, Border Patrol Agent Hector R. Clark, and his partner Lead Border Patrol Agent Eduardo Rojas, Jr., were killed when a freight train struck their government vehicle. The accident occurred near the intersection of Interstate 8 and Paloma Road, approximately nine miles west of Gila Bend, Arizona. Agents Clark and Rojas were assisting other agents in pursuit of a group of suspected illegal aliens at the time of the accident.
Agent Clark, a native of the Yuma, Arizona community, began his career with the U.S. Border Patrol on August 20, 2001, as a member of the 481st Session of the Border Patrol Academy. Following his graduation, he was assigned to the El Centro Station in the El Centro Sector. At the time of his death, he was assigned to the Yuma Station in the Yuma Sector. Agent Clark was 39 years old and is survived by his wife and two children.
Eduardo Rojas, Jr.
Date of Birth October 14, 1976
Entered on Duty: April 9, 2000
Title: Lead Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: May 12, 2011
On the morning of May 12, 2011, Lead Border Patrol Agent Eduardo Rojas, Jr., and his partner Border Patrol Agent Hector R. Clark, were killed when a freight train struck their government vehicle. The accident occurred near the intersection of Interstate 8 and Paloma Road, approximately nine miles west of Gila Bend, Arizona. Agents Rojas and Clark were assisting other agents in pursuit of a group of suspected illegal aliens at the time of the accident.
Agent Rojas entered on duty with the U.S. Border Patrol on April 9, 2000, as a member of the 432nd Session of the Border Patrol Academy. Upon graduating from the academy, he was assigned to the Yuma Station in the Yuma Sector. Agent Rojas was serving as a Lead Border Patrol Agent in the Yuma Sector at the time of his death. He was a native of El Paso, Texas, and a graduate of Irvin High School. Agent Rojas was 34 years old, and is survived by his wife and two children.
Date of Birth: June 28, 1977
Entered on Duty: June 16, 2002
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: May 8, 2021
Agent Vasquez entered on duty on June 16, 2002, as part of the 515th Session of the Border Patrol Academy. The circumstances of his passing were reviewed by an executive panel and the CBP Commissioner who determined that this death occurred in the line of duty. At the time of his passing, he was assigned to the El Paso Station, El Paso Sector, Texas. His line-of-duty death occurred on May 8, 2021.
He is survived by his wife: Inez; sons: Alexander, Christopher, and Abram; daughter: Samantha; parents: Jose and Maria Vasquez; and brothers: Jose and Frank Vasquez.
Entered on Duty: June 8 ,2018
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: May 13, 2022
Border Patrol Agent Salazar entered on duty on June 8, 2018, as part of 1097th Session of the Border Patrol Academy. He recently served at the El Cajon Station in San Diego Sector. He had served in the San Diego Sector his entire career.
Agent Salazar was killed in a single vehicle accident as he was responding to a sensor activation in the early morning hours. Reports indicate that he was driving ion an unimproved road when the vehicle left the roadway and rolled down a steep embankment. Agent Salazar was thrown from the vehicle during the accident.
BPA Salazar is survived by his wife Karina Martinez, his 9-month-old son Santiago Daniel Salazar, his father Humberto Salazar, his mother Marielena Salazar and his siblings Nancy Salazar, Cindy Chacon and Michael Salazar.
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.