For the first time in its 58-year history, a Federal Air Marshal’s (FAM) name is forever etched on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Michele Paul was honored at a wreath laying ceremony as part of National Police Week.
On November 7, 2018, Paul was returning from Europe when she suddenly suffered a medical emergency and became the first FAM to die in the line of duty.
Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf, Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan, TSA Law Enforcement/Federal Air Marshal Service (LE/FAMS) Executive Assistant Administrator/Director Michael Ondocin, LE/FAMS Assistant Administrator Norm Robinson and two of Paul’s team members attended the wreath laying ceremony to recognize their fallen colleague and other DHS heroes who died while on duty.
“Taking the oath to serve as a federal air marshal has an inherent association of danger attached to the responsibility as does any law enforcement position,” said Ondocin. “However, to lose a federal air marshal while providing security to our nation’s traveling public had not occurred in the history of the Federal Air Marshal Service.”
Paul is remembered as hardworking, loyal and selfless and is described as being the first person through the door to provide assistance to those in need. She dedicated most of her life helping those in her community, putting herself last.
“Last year, I attended several Police Week ceremonies, which is always a sobering experience,” Ondocin said, “but to lay a wreath this year for a fellow FAM, I was truly humbled. The National Law Enforcement Memorial is a beautiful, peaceful place that instills a sense of calm, but the actions and voices of the names on the wall will always be heard and honored.”
Assistant Supervisory Air Marshal in Charge Tom Kelly, who worked to get Paul recognized through the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, noted, “Federal Air Marshals are not just passengers. They have to remain vigilant for hours, ready to respond to any in-flight emergencies, mitigate the threat of high-risk travelers, intervene in domestic conflicts and provide medical response to passengers in need. The Federal Air Marshal Service embraces a culture of fitness and has a robust health and wellness program that encourages FAMs to exercise on and off duty. FAM Paul not only embraced this mindset but provided guidance and instruction to others.”
Ondocin said FAMs normally log nearly 2 million miles a day securing passenger airlines throughout the world.
“They are steadfast professionals protecting our homeland,” said Ondocin. “Michele’s service will long be honored and remembered within FAMS and throughout the law enforcement community.”