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Valor Memorial and Wreath Laying Ceremony Honors Fallen Heroes

Release Date: 
May 14, 2014

U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees, families and guests came together Tuesday in Washington, D.C., to honor the single CBP officer lost in the line of duty in 2013, along with the agents and officers of CBP and its legacy agencies who previously died while protecting our homeland and its citizens.The CBP Honor Guard enters the Valor Memorial ceremony as CBP agents and officers stand in formation.

CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske presided over the Valor Memorial and Wreath Laying Ceremony. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas were guest speakers.

CBP Officer Darrell J. Windhaus’ name was unveiled on the Valor Memorial during the ceremony. The memorial is a permanent tribute to the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in protecting the nation’s borders. 

“A critical part of leadership of this department is to let the families know [that] after your loved one is gone we will always be here for you,” said Secretary Johnson. “We honor and cherish the memories of our fallen, as you do, and we value their service. We value the service of each and every person who comes to work in Homeland Security every day. We appreciate that so often they have to put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of the nation. To the families who stand before me, who are still with us, who serve every day, the Department of Homeland Security will always be there for you and support you and care for you. We honor your loved ones’ service and will continue to do so in the years ahead.”CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowke addresses the crowd at the Valor Memorial ceremony in Washington, D.C., on May 14. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was the ceremony’s guest speaker and Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas also spoke at the event.

CBP Officer Darrell J. Windhaus died Dec. 29, 2013, in the line of duty when he collapsed while boarding a freighter to conduct an inspection at the seaport of Brownsville, Texas. Officer Windhaus was a dedicated CBP officer who spent more than 42 years in federal service. He joined the U.S. Army in 1968 and served two years in Vietnam. In 1971, he joined the U.S. Postal Service, starting as a letter sorter. Officer Windhaus retired from the Postal Service in 1999 as a postmaster. He returned to federal service in 2001, joining the Immigration and Naturalization Service where he was assigned to the Roma Port of Entry in Texas. In 2003, Officer Windhaus became an employee of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.   The CBP Massed Band performed at the Valor Memorial ceremony.

“Officer Darrell Windhaus was proud of the role he played in defending our homeland and our way of life,” said Commissioner Kerlikowske. “The loss of every single agent or officer from our CBP family is felt by each of us who remain on duty. Our fallen agents and officers are our heroes. We honor them with our service, vigilance and unquestionable integrity.” 

The outdoor ceremony was held at the Woodrow Wilson Plaza and attended by headquarters employees, the general public, and representatives of other law enforcement agencies.