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January 2002

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Everyday heroes — A Customs tradition

The 2001 Commissioner’s Annual Awards Ceremony was held at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., on November 30. This year’s annual event paid tribute to the accomplishments of Customs employees — Everyday Heroes.

Guests on the dais included the distinguished Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill, Treasury Under Secretary for Enforcement Jimmy Gurule, Treasury Assistant Secretary for Management and Chief Financial Officer Ed Kingman, and Deputy Commissioner of Customs Chuck Winwood. Also in attendance were the Assistant Administrator for Human Resources for the DEA Jean Mathis; and from the CIA, Crime and Narcotics Center, Chief Terry Hayes.

Today, we honor those who have enriched our relationship with local communities, and given of themselves to help others in need. The nation has seen acts of great sacrifice and heroism. And many of those acts were performed by people who serve in government. They've worked past exhaustion. They have risked their lives. And some gave their lives, as well. Our nation is grateful for all these men and women who have shown the meaning of duty and public sacrifice.

— Commissioner Robert C. Bonner

The ceremony began with presentation of the colors by the Customs Color Guard, followed by the playing of the national anthem by the Virginia Military Institute Brass Quintet. Next came a video of Customs employees in action titled "America’s Frontline."

After Secretary O’Neill delivered the opening remarks, Commissioner Bonner began his address. He said that there are many things that stood out in his mind in the first sixty days of his tenure as Commissioner of Customs. He spoke about the response of the Customs Service to September 11 and its aftermath: "Beyond that incredible tragedy, what has made this time truly memorable for me are the people of this agency, their response to crisis, and their constant dedication to the mission of the U.S. Customs Service, no matter the challenges they face."

The Commissioner’s remarks were followed by the presentation of the awards, given to 190 employees and 20 others in 22 categories. Recipients received a medal and a beautiful crystal award.

The ceremony closed with the airing of a video titled "Everyday Heroes – A Customs Tradition." After the ceremony the award recipients attended a luncheon hosted by the Assistant Commissioners, and the Commissioner hosted a luncheon for the VIPs and the ushers/greeters.

At the luncheon, Joe Webber (SAIC New York and award recipient) presented one of the flags retrieved from the New York Customhouse to the Commissioner.

Memorable moments
One of the surprises of the ceremony was a video featuring Matthew Joyce, a 17-year-old from San Diego, who wanted to say "thank you" to Special Agent David L. Manglos. Special Agent Manglos received the Top Humanitarian Award for donating a portion of his lung to Mathew Joynce - someone he didn’t even know.

An Award for Valor – New York Style
Commissioner Bonner also presented awards to some employees who exemplified the true meaning of the words "everyday heroes" on September 11, 2001. One of those awards went to Gregory Groman. Groman worked at 6 World Trade Center as the lead mail clerk. For the past 10 years his supervisor had been telling him that if anything happened, he should gather up his people and get them out of the building; and if anything really bad happened he should just keep going. On September 11, 2001, something really bad happened and Gregory remembered what he had been told to do. He got his three co-workers together, got them out of the building, and kept walking. He walked them to 14th Street, a distance of about 20 blocks, and then sent two of them home. He walked an additional 20 blocks with the third whom he knew needed more help, where he put her in the care of another Customs employee who made sure she got home. Only then did Groman think about getting himself home and letting his mother know that he was okay. Groman’s 84-year-old mother was in the audience to watch him receive the Commissioner’s Award.

Integrity Award
"The fact that we reserve a special moment in our ceremony for the presentation of the integrity award speaks to its singular importance in our mission," said Commissioner Bonner. "To a law enforcement agency like Customs, integrity is everything — and it is the one thing we cannot do without."

The integrity award winner this year is Inspector Mario E. Varela of the Port of Hidalgo, Tex.. In April, when a canine alerted to the presence of marijuana in a driver’s backpack, Inspector Varela was offered a bribe in return for letting the driver go.

Inspector Varela immediately informed his supervisor that he had received an offer of a bribe and called Internal Affairs. Meanwhile, the driver increased his offer to Inspector Varela.

An additional witness was needed to prosecute the bribery attempt, so Inspector Varela had the driver repeat the offer, this time in the presence of a supervisor by convincing the driver that his supervisor was also interested in the money. The suspect was arrested and prosecuted on federal bribery charges.

Then, in a further pat-down of the driver, packets of cocaine were found. Inspector Varela was so successful in gaining the driver’s confidence that the driver voluntarily surrendered yet more drugs that he had hidden in his clothing.

Inspector Varela was presented with a cash award of $10,000 in recognition of his commitment to integrity.

A moment of silence
Commissioner Bonner requested a moment of silence to remember those who have given their lives in the line of duty for the U.S. Customs Service. To the great regret of all, another name will be added to the memorial this year: Senior Inspector Thomas Murray. Inspector Murray gave his life this past October at the Port of Gramercy, La., during the search of a cargo ship.

Congratulations to these 2001 Commissioner’s Awards Recipients

Exceptional Service Awards

Mary Ann Cranford
Wende Schuster
Howard T. Spencer
Craig A. Walker
Monica Rice Brenner
Ellen C. Daly
Richard Messick
Carroll E. Ogburn
Jeffrey B. Whalen
Sandra Driggers
Sandra Endsley
AnnMarie R. Highsmith
Charles D. Ressin
Terri L. Gillespie
Louis R. Garthe
Ira Reese

Unsung Hero Awards

Carol Brewer
Ann M. Fleury
Patricia L. Peters

EEO/Diversity Awards

Madeline Marquez
Georgia D. Williams-Baker
Keri Eliason
Melba Hubbard
Fred Anderson
Linda Tan
Alberto Santoyo
Chu-Yi Judy Wu
Ulyanna Seung Won Chung
Vincent D. Luna
Bridgett Bradley
Angel Hernandez

Community Service Awards

Ben Davis, Jr.
Michael E. Maillard
Zachary L. Mann

Special Recognition Awards

Osiel Gonzalez
Angelica M. Pickarski

Professionalism Award

Barry Flynn

Customs Partnership Awards
Business Anti-Smuggling Coalition

Orlando Báez
Hector Caban Santiago
Marshall Campbell
James M. Carson
Elpidio Garcia, Jr.
John Hotsko
Julia Moguil
Vincent Robert O’Campo
Lizzette Ortiz-Febus
Gonzalo Reinosa
Frank Castillo
Armando Goncalvez
Miles Benet’ Sonn
Santiago Villa
Harold Wilson

Customs Partnership Awards
Operation Capistrano

Thomas S. Chan
Donna M. Luisi
Denise M. Worker
Luis Linares (U.S. Department of State)

Leadership Awards

Therese Randazzo
M. Kandance Black

Manager of the Year Awards

Thomas L. Trotto
Patricia Goldman
Camille Polimeni

Innovation Awards
Customs Automated Forms Entry System

Charles A. Bennett
Kris Ann Crane
Raymond R. Janiszewski
James Klosko
Donald S. Kozacki
Donald Kusser
James Macdonald
Kevin L. Parsons
David A. Picani
Charles Ryan
Kim Gerard Santos
Paul K. Schwartz
James D. Swanson
Glenn S. Williams
Keith A. Fleming

Innovation Awards
Paperless Personnel Process

Tanya E. Bennett
Veronica Gilmore
Barbara Zakrison
Carol Cuddihy
Joan C. Rochelle

Recruiter of the Year Awards – Office of Strategic Trade

Joan M. Colby
Cynthia DeLeón
Caroline J. Guerrieri
Thomas H. Kudelka
Martin Liggett
Kim A. Luken
Orest Panchuk
Terry R. Reimer
R. Keith Richard
Leon D. Sample
Peter Daniels
Thomas J. Jesukiewicz
Christine Michelson
William Mohalley

Explorer Advisor of the Year Awards

Ulyanna Seung Won Chung
Thomas A. Reis, Jr.
Gayle Williams
Lionel Andrade
Robert J. Meis

Customer Service Awards

Carol J. Reed
Lura Messier
Karen L. Garrow
Robert J. Swallick
Bruce A. Nunziata
Deborah Thompson
Teresa E. Momber

Enforcement Action of the Year Awards
Operation Blue Orchid

Eric P. Andreucci
Marshall Heeger
Kimberly Mueller
Alexis Slebodnick
Colonel Igor V. Gubanov
Major Eduard V. Lapatik
Sergey N. Kishkinsky
Michael Woodworth
Irina A. Zakharova
Major-General Vasiliy N. Kuptsov
Colonel Yevgeniy T. Maksimov
Colonel Alexander V. Bynenko
Captain Alexander V. Ponomarenko
Captain Alexei M. Drozdov
Captain Dmitriy V. Mironov
Senior Lieutenant Yuri V. Ponomarenko
Senior Lieutenant Boris V. Yakovchenko
Senior Lieutenant Sergey K. Sokolov
Colonel Igor N. Ivanov
Lieutenant-Colonel Andrei V. Kubarev
Major Yelena O. Korolyova
Major Nikolay Y. Kvitkovskty

Enforcement Action of the Year Awards
Newark/JFK - Office of Field Operations

Dominick M. Maddalena
Herbert Herter
Ruben Del Valle
Michael C. Mikulka
Eric W. Crago
Adrian Smith
Robert Michael McNally
Danay Triana
Patrick E. Orender, Jr.
Lenore Archibald
Lucille Cirillo
Jerry Cordova
Thomas Falanga
Mark H. Mather
Frank Rahola

Law Enforcement Officer Awards

Andres Guerra
Ryan L. Spradlin

Top Humanitarian Award

David L. Manglos

Top Blue Eagle Award

David Wilhelm

Top Unit Citation Award

Kevin J. Evans
Christopher Pater
Jose Arredondo
Janice Ayala
Nicholas Berg
Kenneth Cates
Raul Donohoe
Jim Frankson
Marlene Hinojos
George Leddon, Jr.
Cynthia Manduján
Laura Ortega
Marcos Payan
John R. Perches
Sylvia T. Solis

Top Strategic Problem Solving of the Year Awards

Rita D. Shelling
Sherrie Raby
Jeanette L. Toney
Janet M. Duplechain
Eric L. Couture
Ralph Riemer
Clyde W. McCoy
Kevin M. Green
David G. Bonnaffons
Kevin J. Martin
Gerald J. Zeringue
Reginald Taylor III
Stanley Gilmer, Sr.
Darlene A. Schwartz
Kenneth A. Stroud

Meritorious Service Awards for Valor

John Landers
Rodrigo Gallardo (Union Pacific Police)
Carlos L. Gonzalez
Joel E. Jorgenson
Thomas Futch

Integrity Award

Mario E. Varela

New York Awards

John J. Martuge
Joseph R. Webber
Gregory J. Groman
Pedro Adorno
James Key, Jr.
Robin Dana Blocker
Michael A. Alfonso
Patrick Ahearne
Damian Vega
Michael P. O’Brien
Dennis McSweeney
Joseph Macchiaroli
John Dennis Eisert
Alysa D. Erichs
Robert C. Castioni, Jr.
Rod Khattabi
Nelson J. Chen
Marianne Jaynes
Carol Faddis
William L. Binney, Jr.
Diana M. Gasch
Vivian Denise Mathis
Susan F. McCrary
Lynn M. McWalters
Kenneth G. Myers
Dorothy Blum-Stewart

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