DETROIT (AP) — Brian Terry once wrote to a friend that he trained, drilled and prepared himself to have the best chance of defeating his country's enemies.
The 40-year-old former Marine and other members of an elite U.S. Border Patrol unit met some of those enemies in the remote and dusty, rust-red canyons of southern Arizona when Terry was killed last week in a gun battle with bandits.
Colleagues say it wasn't death the Detroit-area native feared. It was dying without honor.
Fellow agents and dozens of police from across the U.S. and Canada attended services Wednesday for Terry at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit. They heard those closest to Terry describe him as a warrior and patriot who died doing what he loved most: fighting for his country.
"If you seek to do battle with me this day, you'll receive the best I am capable of giving," Michigan State Police Sgt. Dan Bowman read from a note Terry had written.
"It may not be enough, but it will be everything I have to give," the note continued. "You may defeat me, but you will be lucky to escape with your life. You may kill me, but I'm willing to die if necessary.
"I do not fear death, for I have been close enough to it on enough occasions that it no longer concerns me. What I do fear is the loss of my honor, and would rather die fighting than to have it said that I was without courage."
Four men were arrested following the Dec. 14 shootout near Nogales, Ariz., 13 miles north of the border with Mexico. At least one other was being sought.
"We resolve . . . I resolve to pursue swift justice for those responsible for his death," U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano vowed during remarks at Terry's funeral.
Napolitano, the top government official attending the services, also said she brought a personal note to Terry's family from President Barack Obama.
"He, like I, honors Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry today," Napolitano said. "He was an exceptional Border Patrol agent who always pushed forward, embracing the most difficult challenges that came his way. He put service before self, which is the mark of heroism."
He was the second agent killed in the line of duty since September. Michael Gallagher died that month in a wreck during a patrol in Arizona.
Terry enlisted in the Marines after graduating in 1988 from Flat Rock High School. He spent three years in the military and later worked as a police officer in Ecorse and Lincoln Park, two communities southwest of Detroit.
He joined the Border Patrol in 2007 and became a member of the agency's tactical unit.
Napolitano had said shortly after Terry's death that the bandits tracked by his team typically rob drug smugglers or illegal immigrants making their way into the U.S.
The Border Patrol's Tucson sector, where last week's shooting took place, is the busiest gateway for illegal immigrants into the United States. Half the marijuana seizures along the 1,969-mile southern border are made in the sector, which covers 262 miles of the boundary.
Terry was waiting with three other agents when the gun battle began. No other agents were injured.
"He went knowing what he was doing made a difference," family friend Kurt Martin said in Terry's eulogy. "He was an all-or-nothing type of guy."
The Border Patrol now has to complete the work that cost Terry his life, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin said in his remarks Wednesday.
"The ongoing criminal element there are making their stand, but we will overcome them," Bersin said. "The people who murdered him will be brought to justice. Make no mistake about that. They can run, but they cannot hide."
Terry is survived by his mother, father, a brother and two sisters.
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