June 25 - July 1
Welcome to another This Week in USBP History!
Salute to the Guardians of the Border
Reflecting on USBP’s Legacy & Looking Ahead
This week we embrace the winds of change and bid farewell to Chief Raul Ortiz, the 25th Chief of the Border Patrol, who retires after an illustrious career spanning over three decades. Chief Ortiz set a great precedence of humility as he had reconsidered his past decision, and a commitment to valuing the workforce in August 2022 as described in THIS WEEK IN USBP HISTORY, VOL. 52.
Simultaneously, we welcome Chief Jason Owens as the 26th Chief of the Border Patrol. As a beacon of hope, Chief Owens is tasked with navigating the tumultuous waters of border security with grace and resolve, and a laser focus on the betterment of the workforce.
Chief Ortiz and Chief Maddocks are the embodiment of dedication, having served beyond the mandatory retirement age of 57 through waivers. This is noteworthy, especially at a time when many agents are retiring sooner than mandatory, often well within two years of becoming retirement eligible
The USBP's culture is integral to its identity. Its rich history and traditions have shaped the character and values of the agents, guiding them through challenging terrain and circumstances.
To mitigate attrition and address staffing issues, numerous suggestions have been put forth in earlier blog posts:
Now, let’s address the challenges ahead. A recent GAO report described the Patrol's attrition at about 7%, but some say it may be closer to 9%. The Border Patrol’s agent numbers have fallen well below 19,000. With an academy class of approximately 50 trainees and less than 2% of applicants becoming Border Patrol Agents, the challenge of maintaining the workforce is evident. Here’s a breakdown of what the attrition rates mean for the Border Patrol:
At a 7% attrition rate:
At a 9% attrition rate:
The difference in the number of employees leaving between a 7% and a 9% attrition rate for each workforce size is significant. For instance, for a workforce of 20,000, the difference is 400 employees, which is equivalent to 8 Academy classes!
The challenge is significant!
As Chief Jason Owens takes charge, addressing the attrition rate is likely to be one of the greatest challenges facing the Patrol. Creating an environment that encourages agents to stay, as well as implementing effective recruiting strategies, will be essential.
The Border Patrol is an essential institution for the safety and security of our borders. With new leadership and a commitment to addressing the challenges ahead, there is hope for a strong and resilient future.
Stay tuned for next week’s volume as we continue to delve into the rich history and the evolving challenges and triumphs of the United States Border Patrol.
This week's history unveils intriguing chapters from the United States Border Patrol's past. In 1907, Father of the U.S. Border Patrol Frank W. Berkshire assumed the role of the first Supervising Inspector for the Mexican Border. Fast forward to 1924, a significant milestone was reached with the official confirmation of the title "Patrol Inspector". Meanwhile, in 1959, the Patrol Inspectors of the Ogdensburg Sector showcased their dedication by providing security for Vice-President Richard Nixon and Queen Elizabeth II during the Moses-Saunders Power Dam dedication. These events offer a glimpse into the agency's early days, reflecting its growth, challenges, and notable achievements. Join us as we delve into these captivating historical moments and much more.
As we delve into the past, we also pause to honor the memory of three Patrol heroes on the anniversary of their Newton-Azrak Award actions.
Additionally, we remember and pay tribute to two of the Patrol's fallen officers 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 email@example.com). 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
Straight-line braking! Don't crush the apex! Accelerate out of the turn!
A blast from the past: Every Border Patrol Agent, past and present, can almost hear the instructors’ fervent shouts – 'Straight-line braking! Don't crush the apex! Accelerate out of the turn!' – as they raced to master high-speed pursuits at the Border Patrol Academy. It's a time when steering wheels are gripped tight and hearts raced faster than the engines.
Follow this link to see examples of USBP employees Upholding Honor First.
Juanita Santana - photo
Border Patrol Agent
On June 29, 1995, Border Patrol Agent Juanita Santana of the Tucson Border Patrol Station, was assigned to patrol a major smuggling route south of Tucson, Arizona.
Shortly after 5:00 p.m., Agent Santana observed a suspicious vehicle and conducted a normal vehicle stop. When she reached the rear door of the car, the driver, without warning, pointed a handgun out of his window and immediately began firing at her. Two shots struck her in the chest directly over her heart. Both bullets were stopped by a bulletproof vest she was wearing. A third shot struck her left forearm and completely penetrated it below the elbow. The fourth shot struck her ammunition pouch, which was fastened to her gun belt. This fourth bullet disintegrated on impact and Agent Santana was struck in the abdomen by shrapnel from the bullet.
Although struck four times and seriously wounded, Agent Santana drew her revolver and returned fire at the driver. Agent Santana ran back to her patrol vehicle and immediately began to pursue the fleeing suspects. She radioed for assistance and informed the Communications Center that she had been shot. Even though she was injured and bleeding heavily, she maintained her composure and clearly broadcast all pertinent suspect information.
Also received the USBP Purple Cross for this action
Christopher D. Brinkhoff
Border Patrol Agent
Juan H. Villa
Border Patrol Agent
Border Patrol Agent Christopher D. Brinkhoff and Border Patrol Agent Juan H. Villa were recognized for extraordinary courage and valor during the performance of their duties on June 30, 2005, when they discovered evidence that there were narcotics smugglers in the remote desert area of Nogales, Arizona. At approximately 12:25 p.m., the agents encountered a group of 10 to 12 individuals. Immediately, an unknown number of the group began to fire at the agents. During the exchange of gunfire, both Agents Brinkhoff and Villa were shot in the right leg. The agents, suffering from shattered femurs, relayed via radio that they were down and needed assistance. A subsequent search of the area revealed 498.1 pounds of marijuana hidden in the brush.
As of March 6, 2023, HonorFirst.com solemnly acknowledges the loss of 154 brave individuals who have fallen in their line of duty:
The names listed below are respected and remembered for their ultimate sacrifice in fulfilling the oath to protect and defend the United States of America.
In preserving the historical context, the descriptions about each officer's circumstances are presented with minimal editing to maintain the original "language of the day".
Complying with the Privacy Act of 1974, any causes of death related to lethal illnesses contracted in the line of duty will not be disclosed.
It's noteworthy that Border Patrol Agent John Charles Gigax's name is inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial, yet his sacrifice is not officially recognized by the Customs and Border Protection or the U.S. Border Patrol.
However, HonorFirst.com proudly acknowledges and includes Agent Gigax among our memorialized heroes.
Robert W. Kelsay
Date of Birth: January 23, 1899
Entered on Duty: July 1, 1927
Title: Senior Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: June 25, 1930
During the night of June 25, 1930, Senior Patrol Inspector Robert W. Kelsay and another officer were watching a river crossing near Laredo, Texas. They were fired upon by liquor smugglers whom they had attempted to stop. During the gunbattle, Senior Patrol Inspector Kelsay was fatally wounded. There is no information available regarding the identity of the smugglers.
Survivor benefits - As per this document, his wife received $58.33 per month.
Charles F. Inch
Date of Birth: April 8, 1902
Entered on Duty: October 14, 1930
Title: Patrol Inspector
End of Watch: June 26, 1932
The limited information available relative to Patrol Inspector Charles F. Inch indicates that he was attempting to board a moving freight train but was thrown from it, the wheels passing over his body. He was pursuing two aliens who were attempting to enter illegally from Canada. The fatal accident occurred in the Michigan Central tunnel yard at Detroit, Michigan, on June 26, 1932.
Survivor benefits - As per this document, his mother and father received $46.50 per month.
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.