By: Andrew Giangola
May 16, 2018
PUEBLO, Colo. – Dedication. Love of country. Hard work. Sacrifice.
The U.S. Border Patrol and Professional Bull Riders (PBR) share the same values, which is one reason why the organizations enjoy a powerful and effective partnership.
As part of “Celebrate America,” fans at PBR events see the U.S. Border Patrol present our nation’s colors during the singing of our National Anthem and are introduced to families who have lost a member while protecting our country.
During National Police Week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (U.S. Border Patrol is the mobile, uniformed law enforcement arm of this larger agency) honors those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country in a Valor Memorial and Wreath Laying Ceremony in Washington, DC.
The special ceremony was held today at Customs and Border Protection headquarters at the Ronald Reagan Building with PBR CEO Sean Gleason in attendance.
This year, while remembering its fallen agents, the U.S. Border Patrol also recognized Giliard Antonio, the beloved bull rider who died last weekend following an injury at the PBR event in Maringa, Brazil. The agency saluted Antonio in its social media channels and internal communications systems reaching more than 20,000 Border Patrol employees.
“The U.S. Border Patrol offers our deepest condolences on the loss of your cowboy, Giliard Antonio,” said James J. Searl, Assistant Chief, U.S. Border Patrol Headquarters, Mission Readiness Operations. “He no doubt joins a list of notable figures like George Paul and Lane Frost who were lost too soon doing the job they loved. During National Police Week, events recognizing the sacrifice of law enforcement officers who paid the ultimate price for protecting this nation and our communities are going on across the country. The U.S. Border Patrol knows all too well the scar of losing one of its own.”
Gleason was humbled to represent professional bull riding in thanking the families of the fallen agents.
“Hearing the roll call of all the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers lost in the line of duty was sobering,” he said. “Meeting the wonderful families of those Border Patrol agents lost was heart-wrenching and joyful at the same time. They are why PBR celebrates America and our fallen heroes every week.”
As the son of a law enforcement officer, Gleason has had a lifelong appreciation of the courageous men and women in a profession sworn to protect and serve.
“The Border Patrol agents are cowboys,” he said. “They are our heroes.”
Here are the stories of the fallen agents recognized this year.
On August 17, 1995, while off-duty in Chula Vista, California, Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Lawrence B. Pierce, a 15-year agency veteran, witnessed an altercation where an innocent man was stabbed to death.
Agent Pierce chased down the killer, identifying himself as a law enforcement officer.
While attempting to disarm the killer, he suffered fatal wounds. The killer was apprehended, convicted of murder, and sentenced to 39 years to life in prison.
Agent Pierce, a U. S. Marine Corps Veteran, entered on duty with the U.S. Border Patrol on June 23, 1980, as a member of the 137th session of the Border Patrol Academy, and had been assigned to the Campo, California Station in the San Diego Sector.
On May 20, 2017, while off-duty in El Paso, Texas, Border Patrol Agent Isaac Morales was confronted by an assailant with a knife. Agent Morales identified himself as a law enforcement officer, and while attempting to disarm the assailant, Agent Morales was stabbed multiple times.
He succumbed to his injuries four days later. The killer was arrested and charged with murder.
Agent Morales entered on duty with the U.S. Border Patrol on February 18, 2008 as a member of the 749th session of the Border Patrol Academy, and was assigned to the Ysleta, Texas Station in the El Paso Sector. He had served with the United States Border Patrol for over 9 years.
On November 18, 2017, Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez was patrolling along Interstate 10 in a remote area outside of Van Horn, Texas when fellow agents were alerted that he and another agent were in distress.
When fellow agents located Agent Martinez, he was unresponsive and severely injured. Agent Martinez was taken to the local hospital in Van Horn and later transported to a medical center in El Paso, Texas where he died the next day.
The circumstances surrounding the death of Agent Martinez are still being investigated.
Agent Martinez entered on duty with the U.S. Border Patrol on August 12, 2013, as a member of the 1018th session of the Border Patrol Academy, and he was assigned to the Van Horn, Texas Station, in the Big Bend Sector. He had served with the United States Border Patrol for over 4 years.
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