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Updated Aug 29, 2013 - 1:58 pm

Customs boat named in honor of slain Arizona agent Brian Terry

TRENTON, Mich. -- A new U.S. Border Patrol vessel named after a slain agent from Michigan was christened by the agent's mother on Thursday before it began making its rounds on a section of the Detroit River.

Josephine Terry helped dedicate the 25-foot aluminum-hulled Brian A. Terry during a ceremony in Trenton, southwest of Detroit.

The vessel is named after her son, who was shot to death in 2010 during a firefight north of the Arizona-Mexico border. Authorities said the gunfight broke out between U.S. agents and five men who had sneaked into the country to rob marijuana smugglers.

The Brian A. Terry will patrol the river south of Detroit to the mouth of Lake Erie. It is considered a Secure-Around-Flotation-Equipped vessel, or SAFE boat, which are used to stop smugglers and protect U.S. ports from acts of terrorism.

"It makes me so proud that Brian has been honored in so many ways, and now our hero has a beautiful vessel in his name, close to the home town where he was raised," his 72-year-old mother said during the ceremony at Elizabeth Park. "I am sure Brian is smiling down and grateful that his brothers in green have honored and have kept his amazing legacy alive."

Her son, a former Marine and police officer, was part of an elite squad similar to a police SWAT team that was sent to the remote areas north of Nogales, Ariz., known for border banditry, drug smuggling and violence.

He was waiting with three other agents when the gun battle erupted.

"What Brian did in life and throughout his career in law enforcement and certainly with the Border Patrol was the epitome of honor," U.S. Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher said Thursday.

"If we could be half of the agent, with half the commitment and dedication to service and excellence, if we could aspire to be half of what Brian was, then my career personally would be fulfilled. That's why I always do not forget."

Brian Terry grew up in Flat Rock, not far from Thursday's boat dedication. He worked as a police office in the Detroit area communities of Ecorse and Lincoln Park before joining the Border Patrol.

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