At memorial, slain Border Patrol agent remembered as protector For all his life, a protector
TUCSON — U.S. Border Patrol agents vowed to never forget to honor the memory of the man they said embodied the role of a leader and embraced his duty as a protector during the public memorial service for agent Brian A. Terry at Kino Stadium in Tucson on Friday.
At least 1,000 people were in attendance at the facility, including hundreds of Terry’s fellow agents, joined by members of the military and other local and federal government law enforcement agencies. The Border Patrol Tactical Unit member was shot and killed by suspected border bandits northwest of Nogales on Dec. 14.
“Throughout his life, Brian has been a protector,” said Randy Hill, chief patrol agent of the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector. “As a Marine, as a peace officer and as a Border Patrol agent, Brian was dedicated to the protection of human rights. He believed people had the right to feel safe in their communities.”
Through tears, Terry was hailed as “an example of strength and devotion to duty” by Mark Vander Lee, chaplain of the Nogales Border Patrol station.
It was a sentiment repeated throughout the hourlong service about Terry, 40, who lived in Sierra Vista for three years while assigned to the Border Patrol’s Naco station.
“Brian was a man that believed in service,” said Kurt Martin, spokesperson for Terry’s family, members of which were in attendance but did not speak.
“He made the ultimate sacrifice doing his job. He knew the dangers of it, but he went on every day, knowing that what he was doing was making a difference, not for himself, but for others.”
Members of Terry’s tactical unit, who faced those same dangers, spoke of him as more than just a friend and co-worker, but a brother willing to do whatever he could to make the world better.
“I believe Brian served … because his life was enhanced simply by sharing the burden of an arduous task,” said agent Sean Coldiron.
Even to those who didn’t know him personally, Terry’s pride in what he did was evident.
Sierra Vista resident Paul Herbert drove to Tucson for the event. Herbert’s mother, Julie Epperson, was close friends with the Border Patrol agent, to the point where he would check in with her before heading out on missions.
Herbert said he saw Terry frequently at Summit Fitness, where his mother works, and at family functions.
“He always had that persona about him, keeping his chin held high,” Herbert said. “He knew what he was doing, and he was good at what he did. He walked with a lot of pride and honor.”
Along with promising never to forget Terry’s sacrifice, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin vowed to Terry’s family that his killer would be found.
“We will bring the murderers to justice. We will support federal law enforcement and United States attorneys to see that justice is done in this case,” Bersin said.
As the last echoes of the speakers’ comments filled the air, a riderless horse and a seven-gun salute marked the beginning of the end of the ceremony. Shortly after, a respectful silence fell over the stadium, amplifying the sound of thousands of feet shuffling to attention as the final radio call for agent Brian A. Terry went unanswered.