He took the job of defending America’s borders seriously, but never lost sight of the human drama that unfolded before him each day.
U.S. Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Greening, killed when his car slammed into a cow that had wandered onto State Route 86 on March 14, was remembered yesterday for his passion and compassion.
Scottish bagpipes wailed as more than 300 agents stood at attention outside the Mormon church in Ajo during an afternoon memorial service.
Greening, 28, a four-year veteran, was the sixth Border Patrol agent to die while on duty since 1926.
Agent Sean King roomed with Greening and recalled seeing him pack his lunch with extra sandwiches and granola bars. When King asked him why, Greening said it was just in case he came across an illegal immigrant that needed it.
“Most agents just picked up a burrito for themselves at the corner store,” King said. “Nick thought about others.”
“He understood that most of these people come here because they wanted a better life,” said agent Alex Bonilla, who worked with Greening at the Ajo Station.
Greening was remembered as a model agent whose arrests lead to record prosecutions and drug seizures. He once was dragged 20 yards when he grabbed the steering wheel of a car driven by a drug smuggler trying to escape. The smuggler got away, but the drugs didn’t.
Greening received an undergraduate degree with honors in criminal justice from Utah Valley State College in 2002. At the agency’s academy, he helped King with immigration law classes. In return, King offered to help Greening with Spanish. In the end, Greening scored higher than most other agents on Spanish tests.
“He was like a sponge,” King said. ” He just soaked everything up.”
Greening volunteered for the station’s specialized Disrupt Team, which targets smuggling operations.
His specialty was scaling mountains to nab smuggling scouts.
Greening, who was a devout Mormon, was ambitious and planned to join the FBI one day.
At the end of the service, Dwayne Greening, said he was grateful to have had Nicholas as his child.
“Farewell, my precious son.”