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Agent, wife thankful for community support
In honor of Thanksgiving, the Yuma Sun is spotlighting those who work to protect our community. This story is one in a series called Families Give Thanks.
This Thanksgiving and Christmas, Linwood Estes will be off and free to spend the whole day celebrating at home.
Last year, it wasn't that way. Office jobs, like the Border Community Liaison communications detail he's serving right now, have their perks, like banker's hours. But during last year's holiday season, the young Border Patrol officer was part of the “mission critical” operations in the field that never get a holiday — chasing down drug mules, for example.
Estes has been with the Border Patrol just shy of four years. Born and raised in Tucson, Estes had a childhood friend who became a Border Patrol agent and they would talk about the work. Estes earned a degree in history and then attended law school for a year before making a vocational shift.
The Estes' don't have children, but there are plenty of personal celebrations he couldn't attend — “birthday parties for family members, baptisms of nieces and nephews” — because of his job. It could also keep him from regular church services (Estes is a chaplain for the force).
But if there's any party Estes doesn't attend, it's a pity party. He knew there were certain sacrifices that went along with his work, like scheduling.
“When you sign up, there are days you... understand that's what you're going to do,” he said.
The Yuma Sector has roughly 1,000 agents, with more than half of them, like Estes, connected to the Yuma office (there are also offices in Wellton and Blythe, Calif.). But there can be a lot of solitude on regular patrol duty in the rugged desert, save for a radio. Shifts are 10 hours (including travel time to and from remote patrol areas) and as with any public safety job, somebody is always on duty, somewhere.
For last year's holidays, graveyard shifts on the valued holidays meant Estes did have time available to celebrate during more or less normal civilian hours. In general, with family a relatively short drive away, visits are still easy to take. This year's holidays will be in Tucson doing the most typical of things, like shopping and tinkering around the family house.
Estes' wife Rachel gets little reality checks now and then that her husband's work is dangerous, like when she washes the cover to his bulletproof vest. “I'm like, wow, that's not a movie, that's real,” she said. Line of duty deaths also hit close to home, but she isn't a worry-wart.
Estes said he has a proud and supportive family. His younger brother is a Tucson Police Department officer, and he worries more for him than he does himself.
And he has a supportive community, for which he's grateful.
Yuma is a military town, with a heavy Marine Corps and Army presence, so the respect that is given to the armed forces crosses over into respect for paramilitary servants like those in the Border Patrol. Being in town now, it's easy for Estes to take a quick lunch or coffee run and run into citizens who see his green uniform and show the appreciation “for the boots on the ground.” In the brush and sand way outside of town it's easy to be walled off from positive everyday citizen interactions, but now that he can receive a random handshake and thanks in town, Estes said that's something he can take back to his colleagues.
Hillary Davis can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6857. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSHillaryDavis or on Twitter at @YSHillaryDavis.