Valor Memorial Honors Law Enforcement’s Highest Sacrifice
CBP employees, families and guests gathered May 13 in Washington, D.C., for the annual Valor Memorial and Wreath Laying Ceremony to honor agents and officers of CBP and its legacy agencies and other law enforcement personnel who died while protecting the U.S. and its citizens.
CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske, who presided over the ceremony held in the Amphitheater at the Ronald Reagan Building, was joined by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and CBP Deputy Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan.
Commissioner Kerlikowske said he is thankful that no CBP officers or agents died in the line of duty last year, which has not happened since 2005, but recognized that other agencies were not as fortunate.
“We were blessed not to add a name to the wall this year, but for these families – and for the families of the 123 law enforcement agents and officers who died in the line of duty in 2015, their loved ones’ ‘end of watch’ came far too soon,” the Commissioner said. “Their losses, like our own, are painful reminders of how difficult and dangerous this profession is. No words can adequately convey our gratitude and respect for these brave men and women and the dedication they have to keep our nation safe.”
Secretary Johnson said that DHS owes the fallen a debt of gratitude and is committed to always supporting their families.
“When we lose someone, and when a family loses someone,” Secretary Johnson said, “there’s really no words, for us as leaders, that we can provide to console and to comfort, except to say that you will always be part of our family, and we will always do what we can to support you and be there for you. This is our obligation, and that is our promise to the families of those fallen heroes.”
The Commissioner noted the April 18 line of duty death of Border Patrol Agent Jose Barraza. Barraza, a canine handler, was involved in a vehicle accident with his canine, Vino. Agent Barraza was assigned to the Sierra Blanca Station of the Border Patrol’s Big Bend Sector.
Agent Barraza left behind his wife, Donna, his two sons, Josh and Joey, and his mother, Tammy Delgado – all of El Paso.
“We mourn his loss, and we come together today to salute all those who have lost their lives in the line of duty,” Commissioner Kerlikowske said. “Thank you for standing with us here today to remember their sacrifices and to pay tribute to their courage and to the valor they displayed in protecting this great nation.”
Border Patrol Agent and Honor Guard member Ruben Rodriguez Jr., who worked with Agent Barraza, said the Valor Memorial ceremony is a good way to honor the fallen and their families.
“I had the privilege to work with him (Barraza) in the field, specifically in the Honor Guard,” Rodriguez said of Barraza. “He was a good friend, a family member on the ‘green side.’ It’s nice to see the family members who have expressed their gratitude for these ceremonies.
“First and foremost, we’re all family,” said Rodriguez, who works in national recruiting for the El Paso sector. “It’s an honor to be here. We’re here to honor the fallen and their family members in this time of sorrow.