EDINBURG, Texas — Border patrol and union officials were able to provide full honors to one of their agents who was killed trying to protect his family from two criminal illegal aliens. The honors came after a two-year fight by Border Patrol union officials and leaders of Congress to have the agent’s death classified as a line of duty death.
On August 3, 2014, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Javier “Harvey” Vega had been fishing with his parents, wife, and children in a fishing spot on the southern side of Willacy County when two illegal aliens attempted to rob them at gunpoint setting off a fierce firefight. The gun battle left Agent Vega mortally wounded Vega and injured his father, Breitbart Texas reported at the time.
The two aliens, originally from Matamoros but living in South Texas, had a lengthy criminal history with one of them having been deported four times. Vega died fighting off the attackers while telling his family to “keep shooting”.
After Vega’s death, officials with the National Border Patrol Council Local 3307 pushed to have Vega’s death designated as a line of duty death. The line of duty classification would grant Vega the recognition of having made the ultimate sacrifice to protect his country. The designation would also provide the family with benefits to help them get through their time of need.
“We could not believe that they would turn their back on us,” said Marie Vega as she recalled hearing that the agency would not classify her son’s death as Line of Duty. “It was a great injustice … Its been a very long two years.”
After two years of fighting and with the help of U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and John McCain (R-AZ), along with U.S. Representative Filemon Vela (D-TX), in September 2016, the agency reversed its decision and classified Vega’s death as a line of duty.
“This is something that was long overdue,” said NBPC President Brian Judd. “This was a great injustice but with the help of everyone here it has been corrected.”
This week, members of the Vega family, his colleagues and friends gathered at the headquarters of the NBPC Local 3307 to provide the full honors that Vega did not receive two years ago. In a solemn ceremony, members of the U.S. Border Patrol honor guard fired a 21-gun salute, played the bagpipes, had a helicopter fly over, and presented Vega’s family with a folded U.S. flag.
“Sierra 252, Sierra 252,” an agent called out on radio as part of a tradition where the agency retired Vega’s radio call sign.
“When evil people sought to do harm, Harvey went straight toward the danger,” said NBPC Local 3307 President Paul Perez who not only worked with Vega but was also his friend. “He was a true American hero … The Vega family lost a father, a husband and a son. The Border Patrol lost a brother. We lost a hero.”
After the ceremony, Breitbart Texas spoke with NBPC officials about the dangers faced by agents on and off duty.
“When we speak out about lack of manpower or lack of equipment, this is what we are trying to prevent,” said NBPC Local 3307 Vice President Chris Cabrera. “We are fighting to keep our guys safe.”
DISCLOSURE: Breitbart News sponsors the National Border Patrol Council’s radio program, The Green Line. Breitbart News previously covered the costs of a slain Border Patrol agent’s funeral. The National Border Patrol Council endorsed Donald Trump for President after the candidate vowed to give veteran Border Patrol agents a voice in what is needed to properly secure the U.S.-Mexico border.