TSA takes home over 100 awards at Homeland Security ceremony

Friday, July 15, 2022
Wallace West photo

The Department of Homeland Security recognized over 100 TSA employees for their professional excellence, sacrifice and accomplishments at the 2022 Secretary’s Awards ceremony.

The Secretary’s Awards took place at regional ceremonies across the country for the first time.

Daniel Brown, an Assistant Federal Security Director for Law Enforcement and Supervisory Federal Air Marshal from the Baltimore Field Office, received the highest recognition: the Valor Award.

Brown was first on the scene at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to locate an armed man after receiving a “Be on the Lookout” alert for an individual suspected of armed rape and kidnapping of children.

Admin, FSD and S1 photo
Administrator David Pekoske (left) and Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas presented the Valor Award, the Department’s highest honor, to Assistant Federal Security Director for Law Enforcement and Supervisory Federal Air Marshal Daniel Brown. (Photo by Austin Deryck-Linstruth)

Brown quickly engaged the armed suspect at gunpoint, taking control of the scene until additional law enforcement arrived.

“I was just a trained person, in the right place, who wanted to save the children this subject reportedly abducted,” Brown said.

TSA officer Wallace West also displayed an act of valor – he saved lives at the risk of endangering himself and his family. While off-duty from his job at Fort Smith Regional Airport, West prevented an active shooter threat in his Arkansas apartment complex .

“I was very honored and humbled,” said West. “Through this process, I never looked at myself being an actual hero.”

TSA teams were also recognized at the ceremony.

DHS gave the Secretary Award to the Acquisition and Procurement Streamlining Integrated Product Team (APS IPT), which was stood up during the rapid rise of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The APS IPT took immediate action in developing a solution to maintain social distancing to reduce the likelihood of spreading COVID-19 virus, protecting TSA employees and the traveling public at security checkpoints nationwide. The team accelerated the deployment of Plexiglas protective barriers within 90 days instead of the estimated full year.

Jerry Schmidt, Director of the Acquisition Advisory Division, was part of the team that won recognition. He said it was a monumental team effort that led to success.

“We could not have accomplished this task without the collective minds and enormous focused efforts of each individual team member,” said Schmidt.   

The TSA litigation team was also represented at the event.

Deputy Chief Counsel Michael Gaches and Acting Assistant Chief Counsel Steven Lewengrub  for Employment & Labor Litigation won the second highest award at the ceremony: Secretary’s Meritorious Service Silver Medal Award.

They implemented an agreement with the Merit Systems Protection Board that provided appeal rights to TSA officers and helped secure funding to support the board’s handling of additional caseloads for the first time in 20 years.

“It is a highlight of my career; I am very proud to have received this award,” said Lewengrub.

By Alexandra Valerio, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs