Del Rio Sector Border Patrol Agents Receive Congressional Badge of Bravery

April 21, 2015
In The News
Release Date: 
April 20, 2015

EAGLE PASS, Texas –The United States Border Patrol Del Rio Sector honored three Border Patrol Agents on April 18 at the Eagle Pass Station. U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (Texas – Dist. 23) presented Border Patrol Agent Christopher J. Smilo from Canton, Michigan; Border Patrol Agent James Barfield from Lakeland, Florida; and Border Patrol Agent Rolando Cantu from Edinburg with the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery. Assistant United States Attorney Meghan McCalla, and representatives from Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Ted Cruz were also in attendance to honor and recognize the agents’ heroic acts. U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (Texas - Dist. 23) presents the Congressional Badge of Bravery to Border Patrol Agents Christopher J. Smilo, Rolando Cantu and James Barfield.

The Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery was created by public law in 2008 to honor exceptional acts of bravery in the line of duty. The agents’ actions during the June 15, 2013 flooding in Eagle Pass, exemplified precisely that type of selflessness. On that day multiple agencies were activated to respond to the flooding, including Border Patrol agents across Del Rio Sector. 

Agents Smilo and Cantu were assigned to a Border Patrol airboat being used to conduct rescue operations when they observed a flashlight being waved inside a house that was nearly completely under water. Agent Smilo quickly entered the fast-moving and debris-filled water and swam toward the elderly couple struggling to keep their heads above water. He calmly reassured the couple and carried each of them, one by one, under the water and through the rising currents to the awaiting airboat. Agent Smilo went on to rescue 16 additional flood victims.

As Agent Smilo was rescuing the elderly couple Agent Cantu observed another elderly resident in imminent danger of drowning. Agent Cantu quickly maneuvered the airboat, securing it to a telephone pole with exposed and live electrical wires. Without regard for his own safety, Agent Cantu leapt into the fast-moving, debris-filled water and swam toward the gentleman’s house. Agent Cantu reassured the elderly resident and carried him on his back through the rising waters to the airboat. 

In another part of town, Agent Barfield was advised of an elderly couple in an apartment complex. Despite the quickly rising waters and dangerous road conditions, Agent Barfield responded to the call and drove his Border Patrol emergency vehicle to the apartment complex. Upon arrival, Agent Barfield waded through four to five foot swells of water and carried each occupant one by one on his back to the safety of his vehicle.  

“I applaud and recognized your commitment, courage, and dedication to service before self in our chosen profession,” said Rodolfo Karisch, Chief Patrol Agent, Del Rio Sector. “I want to commend all of our agents, law enforcement officers and first responders in this community for everything they did during that incident.”