A Hero's Legacy
|George F. Azrak|
The memory of heroes transfers from generation to generation. Consider George F. Azrak.
An old photograph from the College’s archives says, “George F. Azrak was the first MDJC (Miami-Dade Junior College) graduate to get killed in police work.”
Who was George F. Azrak? A call to campus officials reveals that he graduated from Miami Dade College’s North Campus in 1965 with an Associate in Science in criminal justice technology.
According to Border Patrol records, this is what happened on June 17, 1967: Azrak, then a trainee, and Patrol Inspector Theodore Lawrence Newton Jr. had intercepted a vehicle carrying more than 800 pounds of marijuana on Highway 19 near Oak Grove, Calif.
While checking the vehicle, they were overpowered by four convicted felons, two of whom had been following the load of marijuana in a second vehicle. The officers were then taken to the mountain cabin, where they were murdered.
Azrak was 20 when he graduated in 1965. He had been with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) just a month when he was killed. It was less than two weeks before his 22nd birthday.
In 2000, a monument in California was dedicated to honor Azrak and Newton. And each year, the Newton-Azrak Award honors the work of outstanding border patrol agents. It is the highest recognition for agents who have shown extreme courage or performed heroic acts.
Russell Azrak, George’s younger brother, graduated from MDC’s North Campus in 1969 with an associate in business administration and works in Doral as an independent insurance agent.
Russell’s three sons also graduated from North Campus and two decided to follow in their late uncle’s footsteps. Joseph Azrak is now a police officer in Miami-Dade County and Paul Azrak is a public service aide, also in the county.
But the legacy goes back one more generation: George and Russell’s father, Charles M. Azrak, served as an examiner for the INS for almost 40 years.
U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa of California recently proposed a bill to designate the U.S. Border Patrol Station in Murrieta, Calif., as the Theodore L. Newton Jr. and George F. Azrak Border Patrol Station to “to honor the lives of two brave public servants.” President Bush signed the bill into law. Russell and Joseph Azrak attended the dedication ceremony.
“The renaming of the station honoring George and Ted insures that we will never forget their supreme sacrifice,” said Russell Azrak at the ceremony. “Hopefully it will also assure that the safety and welfare of current Border Patrol agents is at the forefront of policy-making decisions. The renaming will help keep the long heritage of the U.S. Border Patrol alive.”
In addition, INS Policies and Procedures were amended to prevent future tragedies of this kind. Now there must be three men on any post, at any given time.
— Katherine Joss