May 21 - May 27
Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
(Cue the music!)
The Legacy and Future of Honor in the U.S. Border Patrol
As a cherished member of the United States Border Patrol family, you are undoubtedly familiar with the challenges we face today. Amidst these trials, it is essential to remember the vital role we play in our nation's security and the proud history that guides our efforts. This piece is an affirmation of our past, a nod to our present, and a beacon for our future. It is an exploration of our organizational motto "Honor First," the deeply embedded esprit de corps within our ranks, and the evolving landscape of our duties.
Steeped in History, Bound by Honor
Our motto "Honor First" dates back to 1926. It became the cornerstone of our ethos, resonating with integrity, honesty, righteousness, and trustworthiness. With it, we have navigated through the turbulent and challenging times of our duty, always upholding the laws, rules, and policies of our land. Its influence is imprinted in our historic 1928 document that emphasized integrity in our guidelines for Border Patrol Inspectors. It speaks of our unwavering commitment to righteousness and virtue, regardless of the challenges we face.
Our Statutory Mandate and Purpose
The U.S. Code encapsulates our primary duties as a crucial arm of law enforcement in our nation. According to 6 U.S. Code § 211, we serve as the primary force responsible for interdicting persons attempting to illegally enter or exit the United States. It is our mandate to deter and prevent the illegal entry of terrorists, contraband, and unauthorized persons. Yet, our responsibilities extend beyond this. We carry out other duties and powers as prescribed by the Commissioner, demonstrating our versatility and resourcefulness in protecting our nation's borders.
Addressing Today’s Challenges
We are not blind to the feelings of being overwhelmed in the face of an unprecedented surge in illegal entrants. The sheer magnitude of the task at hand, coupled with perceived and real constraints, can lead to feelings of frustration and inefficacy. It is essential to remember, though, that every challenge we face is an opportunity for us to grow stronger and adapt. Each individual effort, each apprehension, contributes to our overall mission. Our task might seem Sisyphean, but we are not alone in this struggle. Our collective strength lies in our unity, resilience, and dedication.
A Mandate for Leadership
A profound concept offered by Simon Sinek teaches us that leadership is not about being in charge, but about taking care of those in our charge. It's a principle that needs to be brought to the forefront of our organization, especially now when our workforce is strained under an enormous challenge.
To the leaders within the United States Border Patrol, this is our mandate: Recognize that the strength of our organization lies squarely in the dedicated men and women serving on our frontlines. In the face of unprecedented pressures, your commitment must be to these individuals, first and foremost. Understand that the state of their well-being, morale, and sense of fulfillment directly impacts the execution of our mission.
Every effort, every shift, every day that our workforce serves is a testament to their unwavering dedication. They are not just serving as border patrol agents; they are upholding our national values in one of the most challenging environments possible. This dedication must be seen, acknowledged, and celebrated.
The role of leadership is not to just direct; it's to care, to support, to inspire. Create an environment where our agents feel valued and supported. Invest in their well-being and professional development. Engage with them, listen to their concerns, appreciate their efforts, and make it abundantly clear that they are our most valued asset.
It is time to realign our leadership strategy with this principle. When we, as leaders, prioritize taking care of our people, they will excel in taking care of our mission. In doing so, we are not just upholding our sacred responsibility as leaders; we are also honoring the essence of our motto, "Honor First".
The Humanitarian Aspect of Our Mission
While enforcement is a key aspect of our duties, let's not forget the humanitarian component of our work. We encounter individuals and families in desperate situations, and we strive to treat each person with the respect and dignity they deserve, even as we uphold our laws. This display of humanity distinguishes us, elevating our mission beyond routine law enforcement. Our compassion showcases the spirit of the Patrol and encapsulates the honor we bear with our uniform.
Pride in our Past, Faith in our Future
The challenges we face today are not new. Our work has been a topic of national significance for over a century, as reflected in Frank P. Sargent’s 1905 report. This historical perspective offers comfort and wisdom as we navigate current events. We have faced significant challenges before and emerged stronger, and there is no reason we cannot do so again.
Today, more than ever, we need to remember the lessons of our history, the value of our people, and the importance of the humanity we extend in our duty. We are more than law enforcement officers; we are the guardians of our nation's borders and the protectors of our nation's values. Let us find renewed strength in our shared commitment to protect and serve, embodying our motto, "Honor First," in every aspect of our duty.
(The music fades to silence...)
We remember five of the Patrol's heroes on the anniversary of their Newton-Azrak Award actions.
We remember three of the Patrol's fallen on the anniversaries of their deaths.
Enjoy and have a great week!
P.S. - As an open and continuous invitation to current and former USBP employees, I am always accepting photos to post in the USBP Photo Galleries and in the Upholding Honor First pages. I sure would appreciate you visiting those pages and sending me anything that you think I could post (just send them to firstname.lastname@example.org). As always, make sure to explore all of the hyperlinks to the documents and pages. Finally, please forward this blog to whomever you think may enjoy it.
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 image above captures a historical moment from 1940, showcasing five Border Patrol Inspectors undergoing training on the Thompson submachine gun. This photograph is thought to be closely linked to this memorandum, detailing the procurement of 25 such submachine guns.
Follow this link to see examples of USBP employees Upholding Honor First.
Joel C. Hardin
Border Patrol Agent
On Thursday, May 24, 1979, Artie Ray Baker, who had escaped from prison, arrived from Canada at the Lynden Port of Entry with a female companion. Baker's car was selected for a routine inspection. Baker was referred to Customs Inspector Kenneth G. Ward for further examination inside the port-of-entry building. Once inside the building, Baker, fearing he would be caught, pulled a .45 caliber pistol from behind his back, shot and killed Inspector Ward. Baker and his companion fled the port-of-entry in his car.
A short time later, Baker drove off-road and his car became stuck. Baker and his companion fled on foot and a large law enforcement search ensued.
One of the searchers was Border Patrol Agent Joel Hardin. Even though the dogs and searching officers had obliterated most of Baker's tracks, Agent Hardin eventually found his trail. Accompanied by two local law enforcement officers with shotguns, Agent Hardin proceeded slowly to track Baker through the woods. He found where Baker had taken his boots off and had circled back, and where he hid in a tree. Agent Hardin pointed out where Baker had paused to put his boots on again, confident he had lost the tracking dogs.
At about 8:00 a.m. Agent Hardin was closing in when a Bellingham Police detective spotted Baker crouching in the bushes, preparing to make a dash across Mission Road. The detective approached from behind, aimed his shotgun at Baker and ordered him to "freeze." Baker surrendered without a struggle, still in possession of the loaded .45 caliber pistol he used to kill Inspector Ward.
Agent Harding was recognized with the Newton-Azrak Award for his part in capturing Baker.
Bruce D. Sanny
Border Patrol Agent
San Diego Sector
Border Patrol Agent Bruce D. Sanny was recognized for his courageous actions performed on May 23, 1983, in successfully stopping a driver-less van with three occupants, which was in danger of plummeting down a 100-foot cliff.
Warren Becker III
Border Patrol Agent (BORTAC)
Del Rio, Texas
On May 24, 2022, at approximately 12:35 PM, BORTAC Agent Warren Becker responded to an urgent call-out at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Along with fellow BORTAC and BORSTAR agents, Becker found himself in the midst of a chaotic and dangerous active shooter situation. Demonstrating both courage and resolve, Becker stood at the front line, holding a ballistic shield to provide cover for his team as they prepared to breach the shooter's location. Despite the imminent threat, Becker bravely maintained his position, ultimately leading the entry into the classroom where the shooter was located. His courage under fire, unwavering commitment to the safety of his team and the victims, and his role in neutralizing the threat brought great credit upon himself and the United States Border Patrol.
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent (BORTAC)
Del Rio, Texas
On May 24, 2022, at approximately 11:45 AM, BORTAC Commander Paul Guerrero responded to an active shooter call at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. With multiple law enforcement agencies on scene and the situation rapidly evolving, Guerrero took charge and assumed tactical command. Amidst confusion and misinformation, he maintained composure and clarity of mission. Upon obtaining a master key, Guerrero made the critical decision to lead his team into the room believed to contain the shooter, exposing himself to potential gunfire. His decisive actions resulted in the successful neutralization of the threat, and his clear command facilitated the swift evacuation and triage of wounded victims. Commander Paul Guerrero's exemplary leadership and courageous actions under fire brought great credit upon himself and the United States Border Patrol.
Christopher P. Merrell - award certificate
Border Patrol Agent (BORSTAR)
Del Rio, Texas
On May 24, 2022, at approximately 11:45 AM, Border Patrol Agent (BPA) Christopher Merrell responded to an active shooter call-out at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Multiple law enforcement agencies were already on the scene and had provided a perimeter. They believed the subject was confined in a classroom. BPA Merrell provided cover as the team made their way to the door. As BPA Merrell began to scan the room, he observed the subject coming out of the closet firing towards the team. BPA Merrell immediately started engaging the subject until there was no longer a threat. BPA Merrell continued to provide cover as the team finished clearing the rooms and began helping the wounded inside the classroom. BPA Merrell's actions brought great credit upon himself and the United States Border Patrol.
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.
Cruz C. McGuire
Date of Birth: January 19, 1962
Entered on Duty: September 30, 1984
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: May 21, 2009
Border Patrol Agent Cruz McGuire, of the Del Rio Texas Station, collapsed the morning of May 21, 2009. Attempts by his fellow agents and medical professionals to revive him were unsuccessful. At the time of his collapse, Agent McGuire was working a trail with other agents.
Agent McGuire began his career in law enforcement with the Del Rio Police Department and later joined the Kinney County Sheriff’s Office. Agent McGuire graduated with the 166th Session of the Border Patrol Academy and was assigned to the Kingsville Station. Agent McGuire transferred to the Del Rio Station on April 12, 1998.
Mark F. Van Doren
Date of Birth: July 18, 1969
Entered on Duty: January 19, 2009
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: May 24, 2010
On May 23, 2010, Border Patrol Agent Mark F. Van Doren was in a vehicle accident while on patrol when his vehicle collided with a large bull on rural Farm-to-Market Road 755 in Brooks County, Texas. After the impact, his vehicle veered off the road- way and hit a tree. Agent Van Doren died on May 24, 2010 as a result of his injuries. His partner was critically injured in the crash, but survived.
Agent Van Doren was a native of Garden City, Michigan. He was a member of the 849th Session of the Border Patrol Academy assigned to the Falfurrias Border Patrol Station within the Rio Grande Sector.
Burial Details Unknown
Date of Birth October 15, 1986
Entered on Duty: February 18, 2008
Title: Border Patrol Agent
End of Watch: May 24, 2017
On May 20, 2017, while off-duty in El Paso, Texas, Border Patrol Agent Isaac Morales was confronted by an assailant with a knife. Agent Morales identified himself as a law enforcement officer, and while attempting to disarm the assailant, Agent Morales was stabbed multiple times. Agent Morales succumbed to his injuries four days later, passing away on May 24, 2017. The killer was arrested and charged with murder.
Agent Morales entered on duty with the U.S. Border Patrol on February 18, 2008, as a member of the 749th session of the Border Patrol Academy, and was assigned to the Ysleta Station in the El Paso Sector. Agent Morales served with the United States Border Patrol for over 9 years.
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.