U.S. Border Patrol Agents Receive Highest Award by CBP
HOULTON, MAINE—Seven U.S. Border Patrol agents from Maine will be honored today with prestigious awards by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner David V. Aguilar in Washington D.C. for demonstrating exemplary bravery during the course of their daily duties safeguarding America from all threats.
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Erich S. Rohr, along with Border Patrol Agents Christopher J. Dlugokinski, Gabriel Pratt, Michael Mielnicki and Abraham Reeder will receive the Border Patrol's highest award, the Newton-Azrak Award. This recognition is for the bravery the agents displayed during the Mahaney rescue efforts on July 19, 2011 in Jackman, Maine.
Agents disregarded their own safety as they courageously crawled and dug through the wreckage and rubble during the unsuccessful attempt to rescue Border Patrol Agent Mahaney's 5-year-old son Liam. The Mahaney family's home was virtually destroyed by a truck carrying a full load of tree-length logs when it flipped over on its side, crashing into the two-story residence in which the family of six slept.
The Newton-Azrak award is named after Border Patrol Agents Theodore L. Newton, Jr. and George F. Azrak. Both of whom were murdered in 1967 near Oak Grove, Calif. The murders of Patrol Inspectors Newton and Azrak is considered a defining point in the history of the Border Patrol and this annual award is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon its recipients for acts of bravery or heroism. It serves as a reminder of the dangers and sacrifices demanded of the men and women who protect our Nation's borders.
Also receiving prestigious awards today for their heroic acts is Border Patrol Agents Russell D. Radatz and Sterling W. Goldston. Each agent will be receiving the Meritorious Service Award for Valor in recognition for saving the lives of innocent passengers and bystanders from an unstable subject claiming to have a bomb.
While conducting an immigration inspection during a transportation check on March 30, 2011, Agents Radatz and Goldston were approached by passengers stating that there was a man on the bus with a bomb. Agents proceeded to board the bus to investigate when they encountered a man, who refused to exit the bus. The agents observed wire coming out of the man's vest and an object in his hand. At that point, agents safely evacuated all other occupants from the bus then notified their local, state and federal partners of the incident. The Houlton Police Department, Aroostook County Sheriff's Office, Maine State Police, Houlton Fire Department and Houlton EMS all responded to the scene.
After approximately five and a half hours of negotiations conducted by the Maine State Police, the individual surrendered and was taken into custody by the Maine State Police Tactical Unit.
"Words can not describe how proud we are as an agency to have these agents working in Maine and for them to receive the highest awards from CBP for their heroic actions," said Chief Patrol Agent Joseph Mellia, Houlton Sector, U.S. Border Patrol. "It is truly a privilege and honor to lead agents who display such valor and courage. Their disregard for their own personal safety exemplifies the commitment and honor they have to each other, and to members of the community, as they do their best to protect our Nation each day from all threats."
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 the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.