TUCSON, Ariz. – For 45 years, retired Customs Patrol Officer Jerry Padalino and others who worked with Customs Patrol Officers Louis Davis "Bud" Dixon and Charles "Bo" Bokinskie planned a memorial for the two federal officers who were killed in the line of duty April 24, 1974.
The two officers were killed in a shootout south of Sonoita when they attempted to stop a drug smuggler from bringing illegal drugs into the United States.
The men were young, Bokinskie was 26 and engaged to be married, Dixon was 32 and left behind a wife and three small children. They gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country, a sacrifice that deeply touched their fellow officers.
Padalino, a supervisor at the time, remembered both men fondly. He said their beliefs in upholding the law of the land, even to death, was no surprise to other officers who worked with them at the time.
Sitting in a room at Tucson Sector Headquarters 45 years later, Padalino and five other retired officers reflected fondly on the fallen officers' dedication to duty. Expressing some disbelief, yet filled with gratitude, the officers pleased their efforts for a memorial would now be realized.
In 1974, Dixon and Bokinskie were honored with funeral services, but their fellow officers wanted a physical memorial placed in the desert where the two died to remember and reflect on their service. Land use restrictions prevented the actual location from being marked. After hearing the group's story, U.S. Border Patrol Agent in Charge Nogales Station Sabri Dikman offered a solution, a memorial plaque placed on U.S. Border Patrol equipment near the site south of Sonoita.
With that, the retired group partnered with Tucson Sector to plan a formal ceremony and dedication to the officers, which took place December 3, 2019.
"It is heartening to see the impact Bo and Bud had on their fellow officers," said Chief Patrol Agent in Charge Tucson Sector Roy D. Villareal. "For them to work 45 years to make this memorial reality speaks to the comradery and care CBP officials have for one another. This is inherently dangerous work, and the men and women of this organization accept personal threats to their lives and well-being to uphold our nation's laws and secure our homeland. It is a privilege to stand with the heroes who came before us and led the way in national security."
"Law enforcement officers, who protect us against criminals, help preserve society itself. They are the front line of defense not only against smuggling but against the social chaos, which smuggling and other crimes create," said Padalino. "I still get letters and communication from fellow officers who come out to this location to remember Bo and Bud. I cannot thank those serving today enough for giving us this opportunity to remember and honor our brothers in arms."
The permanent memorial was placed in the desert Tuesday morning with full honors and a 21-gun salute to pay respect to the officers who are gone but never forgotten. Friends and family gathered at the site to remember the men in the place where all their lives were changed dramatically 45 years ago.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control, and protection of our nation's borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP's mission includes keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws. Follow us on Twitter @CBPArizona.