CBP Recognizes Employees at Annual Awards Ceremony
Washington - Hundreds of U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees gathered on Friday to recognize and honor the hard work, dedication and achievements of its workforce during 2009. Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute joined Acting Deputy Commissioner David V. Aguilar to officiate the CBP Annual Awards Ceremony at the agency's Headquarters.
Both Deputy Secretary Lute and Acting Deputy Commissioner Aguilar expressed how proud they were not only of the recipients and their accomplishments, but of CBP's overall success this year.
This year, 60 awards recognized the achievements of 458 employee honorees. Joined by leaders of CBP's Border Patrol, Air and Marine and Field Operations, Deputy Secretary Lute and Acting Deputy Commissioner Aguilar presented each recipient with a medal while congratulating them for their dedication and thanking them for their commitment to CBP's mission.
"Many things have changed since the founding of our nation," Aguilar told the gathering, "but the one constant is the American spirit and the soul of those who protect it. The very spirit that existed in the founders of our country today thrives in you-the men and women of United States Customs and Border Protection."
Among the awardees was the team from the U.S. Parcel Service Express Consignment Hub in Louisville, Ky., who was recognized with the Dean-Melendez Antiterrorism Award. These CBP officers identified numerous individuals who posed a potential threat to the safety and security of the United States.
Meritorious Service Awards honored various life saving acts that ranged from rescuing two infants with the Heimlich maneuver to preventing an armed confrontation to entering a burning apartment building and saving 50 residents from peril.
Another recipient earned a Top Blue Eagle Award for seizing multiple semi-automatic weapons and 16,000 rounds of ammunition, concealed in a false compartment of a truck's gas tank, as it headed toward Mexico.
Amidst supportive applause, the Top Humanitarian Award went to CBP Officer Leely Evans for selflessly donating a kidney to save the life of a fellow officer's wife.
The event began with a moment of silence in honor of two agents, Senior Patrol Agent Cruz McGuire and Border Patrol Agent Robert Rosas, who died tragically in the line of duty last year.
Near the end of the ceremony, before a standing audience, Mrs. Rosas carried her two young children to the stage to accept the Newton-Azrak Award on behalf of her late husband who died in the line of duty on July 23, 2009.
The Newton-Azrak Award is named after Border Patrol agents Theodore L. Newton, Jr. and George G. Azrak. The two men were killed by a group of drug smugglers in June 1967 in Oak Grove, Calif.
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.