This week marks American Heroes Week, and we at DHS are taking time to thank the brave service members and veterans, law enforcement officers, and first responders who keep Americans safe every day.
This includes the brave men and women of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) who go above and beyond to secure the homeland and keep the public safe. Here are some of their stories:
ICE provides support to Boston Marathon bombing victims
When the bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in April 2013, thousands of miles away in Denver, Colorado, Gabe Martinez knew immediately that the lives of those injured would never be the same. Martinez is a living testament. On Thanksgiving Day 2010, while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan, a bomb exploded. After spending 22 years with his natural born legs, he lost both in a split second.
Looking to find a way to visit the bombing victims in the aftermath of the attacks, Martinez, a Human Exploitation Rescue Operative (HERO) and computer forensic analyst with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Denver, reached out to an organization created by a group of Marine Corps spouses with the aim of providing immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to post-9/11 wounded, critically ill and injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, and their families.
Through the organization, Martinez and a group of volunteers visited injured survivors, providing encouragement. In the first year following the attack, he went to Boston 12 times. The original intent was to do one trip, meet with the injured survivors and let them know that everything is going to be OK and be done; however, it has evolved into an annual reunion where lifelong relationships have been formed. Over the years, Martinez has invited friends to make the trip with him, including HSI Tampa computer forensic analyst and fellow HERO Justin Gaertner, who was injured in the same attack in Afghanistan as Martinez. Martinez and Gaertner continue their mission to let those who were injured in the Boston Bombing know that the events of the day weren’t the end for them, just recently returning from a visit with victims in Boston.
ICE OTTP instructor helps save life
Jason Gueringer, a firearms programs specialist and tactical instructor with ICE’s Office of Training and Tactical Programs (OTTP), served as class coordinator for a group of officers with the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate’s Federal Protective Service (FPS). Following the conclusion of the diagnostic portion of the training, which requires a physical fitness test and 1.5-mile run, Gueringer was giving further instructions when a student suddenly collapsed. For the next 14 minutes, Gueringer and others on hand sprang into action to resuscitate the student just as the EMS arrived to load him in the ambulance and take him to the hospital. Upon arrival, Gueringer told the paramedics, cardiologists and the emergency doctors what had happened. The quick reaction by Gueringer and the other officers saved the student’s life. Gueringer said he relied on his first aid training from the the military and ranger first response training at ICE.
ERO Buffalo helps make a miracle
Federal, state and local law enforcement agency personnel joined together June 11 to create a special day for some young people.
Federal, state and local law enforcement agency personnel joined together June 11 to create a special day for some young people. More than 30 officers from eight agencies took part in the Miracle League of Western New York’s (WNY) Law Enforcement Day at Grand Island, New York. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Buffalo Deportation Officer Peter Sukmanowski coordinated the baseball game for 40 children and teens in order to give back to the community ICE serves, especially the young people who face significant hardships and challenges in their lives. Sukmanowski threw the ceremonial opening pitch with Sheriff James Voutour of Niagara County. ERO Buffalo officers participated in both offense and defense, assisted while at bat, ran the bases, caught the ball, and had a great time. The ERO Buffalo Honor Guard presented the colors during the pre-game ceremony and Deportation Officer Lawanda Charles sang the national anthem. The Honor Guard participated in the event as part of their official ICE duties and other ERO staff gave their time during off-duty hours.