- Robert S. Mueller, III
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- FBI Special Agent Memorial Service
- Washington, D.C.
- May 14, 2012
Good morning. I would like to begin by thanking Deputy Attorney General Cole, former FBI Directors Sessions and Freeh, and our other distinguished guests for joining us today.
We also welcome the families of the agents we honor. The men and women we remember today were our friends and our colleagues. But to you, they were much more than that—they were family.
No one feels their loss as deeply as you. But I hope you will take some comfort in knowing that the FBI family—your FBI family—will always mourn their loss alongside you. They will never be forgotten.
There is a unique story behind each of the names we will read today. They lived in different times, and came to the Bureau for different reasons. Each one gave their lives under different circumstances.
Though their stories are different, they shared much in common. They shared a devotion to service—service to the FBI, service to their communities, and service to our country. They shared a commitment to justice and to the rule of law. And they shared remarkable bravery.
It has been said that the bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out and meet it.”
The same could be said about any one of the agents we honor today.
Each of these special agents knowingly faced danger every day they came to work. Each morning, they knew there was a chance they might not make it home that night.
But they accepted the risk—they went out to meet danger—so that others could be safe. And they did so with the utmost bravery.
Their families also accepted that risk with great bravery. Being a parent, a spouse, or a child of an FBI agent is not always easy. The families are the ones who wait up at night for their loved ones to come home; they are the ones who keep the light burning until they do so.
Since our service last year, we have lost two of our own—Special Agent Timothy Briggs of the Louisville Division’s London Resident Agency, and Special Agent Daniel Knapp of the San Juan Division.
Agent Briggs suffered a heart attack on May 31 while jogging with a colleague near the office where he had worked for 14 years. He was a hard-working, dedicated investigator, best known for heading a watershed public corruption investigation in Clay County.
Agent Knapp drowned on December 29 in a heroic effort to save a swimmer struggling in the ocean. Like Agent Briggs, he dedicated his career to uncovering public corruption, winning both the Director’s Award for Outstanding Criminal Investigation and the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence last year for his work on a major public corruption investigation.
While these men and the other agents we have lost in recent years remain foremost in our minds—because so many of us knew them, and worked with them—they are part of a long legacy of bravery.
More than 86 years ago, on October 11, 1925, we suffered our first loss—Special Agent Edwin Shanahan. He was murdered by a professional car thief he was attempting to arrest in Chicago. The fugitive had wounded four police officers while trying to avoid capture.
Forty-six years ago this Thursday, we lost Special Agent Terry Anderson. On May 17, 1966, he was shot and killed while pursuing the kidnapper of a 17-year-old girl in the rugged mountain terrain near Shade Gap, Pennsylvania.
Over the years, special agents have died while trying to arrest notorious fugitives, while participating in undercover operations, or while trying to protect their fellow agents from gunfire.
But no matter how they died—or how long ago—they died having bravely answered the call of duty.
On December 15, 1985, President Reagan addressed mourners in Fort Campbell, Kentucky at a service for members of the 101st Airborne Division who had died in an airplane crash a few days before.
“The men and women we mourn today were peacemakers,” he said. “They were there to protect life and preserve peace, to act as a force for stability and hope and trust. Their commitment was as strong as their purpose was pure. And they were proud. They had a rendezvous with destiny and a potential they never failed to meet.”
The same is true of the beloved special agents we remember today.
They were indeed peacemakers, dedicated to protecting life, to keeping their communities stable, safe, and strong.
They, too, had a rendezvous with destiny…and a potential they did not fail to meet. They were steadfastly committed to the citizens they served. They were equally committed to the Bureau. They left us with an enduring legacy, a standard to which we can all aspire and for which we are forever grateful.
Thank you, and God bless.