When a tribute display to fallen DEA employees was first developed in the 1980s, it was comprised of a series of wooden shields with names and dates of fallen heroes listed. Once DEA moved to its current headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, it was decided in the mid-1990s that a more formal and fitting structure would be built to pay tribute to the agency’s fallen heroes, and that this new “wall” would include an image of each person, to humanize the individuals who had been lost.
Staff from the Operations and Intelligence divisions began to research for the images of the individuals who would be included on the new DEA Wall of Honor. Despite exhaustive research, not all of the images of the fallen heroes who have been lost to DEA and predecessor agencies could be located. When the Wall of Honor was first unveiled in the mid-1990s it featured “placeholder” images – the seal or badge of the agency or bureau that the individual worked for when they were lost in the line of duty – for eight of the women and men.
Enter Special Agent Richard “Rick” Barrett. Barrett, who retired from DEA in 2003, was determined to help. Aided by retired Congressional Affairs staffer Colleen Whelan, Barrett conducted extensive research and dug through hundreds of records. By early 2005 he and Whelan had located the missing images of seven of the eight individuals on the Wall of Honor. Only Federal Bureau of Narcotics Agent Andrew P. Sanderson, who died in the line of duty on September 23, 1944, remained without his picture. Barrett did not give up.
In the years since, Chicago-based Barrett continued the quest to locate the missing image of FBN Agent Sanderson and fill the last remaining gap on the DEA Wall of Honor. In 2022 his persistence paid off. Barrett followed leads that indicated Sanderson had been a member of the American Hellenic Education and Progressive Association. Barrett corroborated that not only was Sanderson a member of the association, but also an elected officer of the Kansas City chapter, the Heart of America Chapter 73. Sanderson was active there in the late 1920s and 1930s while he was assigned to the FBN Kansas City office.
Sanderson’s wife, Olga B. Sanderson, was a member of the association’s twin organization for women, “The Daughters of Penelope.” Agent Sanderson’s image appeared in a 1929 Kansas City Star article for the Hellenic American Society Convention held in Kansas City in August of that year.
The DEA Museum is grateful for Retired Special Agent Barrett’s unwavering efforts over the years to locate images of DEA’s fallen heroes. With the addition of the photograph of FBN Agent Andrew P. Sanderson to the DEA Wall of Honor for the 2022 Memorial Service, the wall is now complete in its visual depiction of the 87 women and men who lost their lives.
Learn more about Agent Sanderson and the other 86 fallen heroes placed on the DEA Wall of Honor here: Wall of Honor (dea.gov)