Fallen agent remembered for DEA work

May 17, 1994|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,Sun Staff Writer

Becky Dwojeski-Phipps was known as a silent hero to her family and co-workers, a person who never boasted about her accomplishments.

But today, friends and family will remember her many achievements at a special memorial ceremony in Virginia for Drug Enforcement Administration employees killed in the line of duty.

Mrs. Dwojeski-Phipps, who died in an accident last year, was a highly commended agent. She had worked on several major cases, including one of the largest documented cocaine smuggling operations in U.S. history and another investigation that led to the seizure of 7.7 tons of cocaine.

"Her dedication to the job was overwhelming. I really looked up to her work ethic," said special agent Beth Walther, who said she often saw her co-worker in the office on the weekend.

"She gained the respect of officers here in the states and overseas, which was unique because in other countries men aren't used to women in positions of authority. But her professionalism and her knowledge about narcotics enforcement won their respect," she said.

Today, at DEA headquarters in Arlington, Va., U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno will present Mrs. Dwojeski-Phipps' husband, Wayne C. Phipps, with the Presidential Certificate at a private ceremony. A plaque -- in the shape of a DEA badge -- honoring the special agent who died at 34 also will be unveiled on the memorial wall.

Mrs. Dwojeski-Phipps died in October at Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia when a load of logs tumbled from a truck and crushed her car.

She was the only DEA agent who died last year and the agency's 46th fatality since 1921.

"Every family should have a Becky," said Leo Dwojeski, the special agent's father.

A native of Baltimore, she graduated from Kenwood High School in Baltimore County in 1977 and received a bachelor's degree in law enforcement from the University of Maryland at College Park in 1981.

She joined the FBI as a clerk typist after graduation and moved in 1983 to the DEA, where she worked in the Washington and Newark, N.J., field divisions.

In 1991, she was transferred to the Office of Training at Quantico, where she taught investigation and enforcement skills the International Training Section.

Mr. Dwojeski wants to keep her memory alive.

He is working with officials at Kenwood High School to raise money for the athletic department, where she is remembered as talented gymnast.

The school recently completed a $14,000 project to fence in its outdoor field, and the department wants to raise $75,000 more for bleachers and an observation tower.

Any funds above building costs will be put into the Becky D. Scholarship fund, which will be awarded to a student athlete. Jim Wilmot, the school's athletic director, said they have raised $2,000 so far.

To find out more about the building fund, call Mr. Wilmot at 887-0145.

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