Honor First

Even though many generations have served since then, the words in this Commissioner’s description truly apply to today’s Agents.  I have been blessed to witness firsthand the selfless actions of Agents who continually strive to protect America.  For instance I recall a time I was in Laredo when we were tracking a group.  It was mid-August and quite hot and humid.  The group had crossed overnight and was on a route trying to circumvent the checkpoint.  It was clear to my partners and I that the group surely new they were being tracked.  They began to brush out, walk in circles and find rocky and hard terrain to walk on.  Further complicating matters, it was getting late and we wanted to finish this trail while it was still daylight.  As eluded to by the Commissioner just three of us were working this traffic and our success depended on our own skill.  At a point when the tracks were “missing”, my partner heard someone calling out we then realized that we had found the group.  We all rallied to a spot in a clump of mesquite and confronted a group of eight.  We announced our selves and ordered all to stop and place their hands up.  Two of the men disregarded our commands but only because their friend was unconscious on the ground beside them.  Without regard for the others we quickly addressed the man.  We laid him flat and ensured he had a clear airway.  His breathing was shallow and rushed.  We immediately radioed for an EMS unit.  We learned from the group that the man had run out of water earlier in the day and was barely able to keep up with the group.  Eventually he passed out and the others were trying to revive him and get him to drink.  While were caring and discussing his condition the man eventually stopped breathing.  Checking the pulse, finding none I then began chest compressions.  My partner immediately began to attempt mouth to mouth CPR.  The man revived momentarily, vomited and again stopped breathing.  Without regard for his own safety my partner cleared the mouth and began again.  Unfortunately our efforts did not bring the man back.  The Agent was even more frustrated than I.  The group was very sad but a few of them thanked us profusely.  These kinds of sacrifices and dedication resonate through my entire career.  This story is commonplace in the Patrol.  The men and women that do this challenging job do so for all of us and to serve this great country.  They regularly exceed expectations and most work hard and do well.  There work is largely unnoticed outside of their peers, yet they continue to uphold their oath and live the motto of “Honor First”.  They deserve our praise and the respect of their fellow citizens.  I’m proud to know them and blessed to be a leader amongst them.


Ronald D. Vitiello

Executive Assistant Commissioner

Operations Support




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