Valor Memorial Honors CBP Employees’ Highest Sacrifice
It’s said that there is no greater sacrifice than to give one’s life serving one’s country.
Few better illustrate that statement than U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and agents who die in the line of duty while guarding and securing the nation’s borders.
CBP employees, families and guests gathered May 13 in Washington, D.C., for the annual Valor Memorial and Wreath Laying Ceremony to honor the two U.S. Border Patrol agents lost in the line of duty in 2014 and to recognize the agents and officers of CBP and its legacy agencies who previously died while protecting the U.S. and its citizens. The names of Border Patrol Agents Tyler R. Robledo and Alexander I. Giannini were unveiled during the ceremony, which also featured a memorial roll call.
CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske presided over the ceremony, held in the Woodrow Wilson Plaza at the Ronald Reagan Building. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas were guest speakers, and CBP Deputy Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan also attended.
“Valor is defined as ‘great courage in the face of danger.’ It is a word that you don’t hear every day,” Commissioner Kerlikowske said. “The ancient Greek biographer and author, Plutarch, once wrote, ‘If all the world were just, there would be no need of valor.’
“Sadly, much of our world is not just,” Commissioner Kerlikowske continued. “Border Patrol Agents Giannini and Robledo knew that. They knew it when they decided to serve their country by signing up for one of the toughest, most demanding law enforcement jobs in the country. They knew it when they took their oaths and they knew it every time they put on their uniforms to begin each shift.”
On May 28, 2014, Agent Giannini of the Willcox Border Patrol Station in Arizona was involved in an on-duty, single-vehicle accident on Interstate 10 near Benson, Arizona. He later died of his injuries. Agent Giannini, 24, entered on duty with the U.S. Border Patrol on April 26, 2009, as a member of the 822nd session of the Border Patrol Academy. He served the Willcox Station throughout his career and is survived by his parents, Victor and Lorena, and his sister, Stephanie.
On Sept. 12, Agent Robledo was involved in a two-vehicle accident while on duty near the Carrizo Springs Border Patrol Station in Texas. He died of his injuries at the hospital shortly after the accident. Agent Robledo, 34, entered on duty with the U.S. Border Patrol on Sept. 8, 2011, as a member of the 988th session of the Border Patrol Academy. He is survived by his wife, Merrissa, and children, Ethan and Carli.
“They knew the dangers, and they walked with purpose and courage toward them, committed to CBP’s core values of vigilance, integrity, and service to country,” Commissioner Kerlikowske said. “Agents Giannini and Robledo surely were men of valor.”
Secretary Johnson told the families, “Today is a day to pay tribute to your loved ones. We want you to know that we will never forget them, we will honor them, and will enshrine them in our memories forever,” Secretary Johnson said. “We want you to know that you will forever be a part of our family.”
CBP employees attending the service echoed the leaders’ views. “It’s a great way to honor our fallen and to never forget them and the ultimate sacrifice that they made for us and their country,” said Supervisory U.S. Border Patrol Agent Kristen Hill from Artesia, New Mexico, who is also a member of the Border Patrol Pipes and Drums Honor Guard. “I know my family would appreciate a ceremony like this [if I died on duty]. I think it is very important.”
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.