Two Texas Game Wardens Receive Officer of the Year Awards

Two Texas Game Wardens Receive Officer of the Year Awards

AUSTIN— The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission recognized two Texas Game Wardens as recipients of the Midwest Officer of the Year and National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) Officer of the Year awards for their outstanding work in law enforcement.

Wilson County Game Warden Rob Frets Named 2018 Midwest Officer of the Year

Wilson County Game Warden Rob Frets was recognized as the 2018 Midwest Officer of the Year by the Association of Midwest Fish and Game Law Enforcement Officers this past June at their 74th annual meeting.

Frets, a game warden for 10 years, has been known to be the first to volunteer for special assignments such as border operations, hurricane duty, or any maintenance that is needed in his district. Frets has also volunteered to work the opening weekend of dove season in Frio County for the last 10 years and has made baiting cases seizing hundreds of mourning and white-winged doves with numerous violations being filed in Frio County courts.

When numerous 911 calls came into dispatch, Frets responded to an active shooter at the Sutherland Springs Baptist Church. Upon arrival at the church, Frets grabbed his patrol rifle and met two La Vernia police officers. They entered the church from different areas to the smell of gun powder and spent cartridges.  After no shooter was found inside the church, Frets returned to his patrol unit to retrieve his medical bag.  He re-entered the church to assist the wounded without hesitation. Pulling adults and children from the scene, wrapping wounds and carrying them from the church to the medics on the scene.

The Association of Midwest Fish and Game Law Enforcement Officers is comprised of 29 member agencies from the United States and Canada. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been a member since 1995.

Angelina County Game Warden Phillip Wood Named 2018 NASBLA Texas Boating Officer of the Year

Angelina County Game Warden Philip Wood was recognized by the TPW Commission as the 2018 NASBLA Texas Boating Officer of the Year at Thursday’s meeting in Austin.

Wood, a game warden for 15 years, has patrolled Jasper and Angelia County during his tenure. Both counties include a portion of Lake Sam Rayburn, one of the largest lakes in Texas at 116,000 surface acres, 230 miles of the Neches River and 20 miles of the Angelina River. His time as a game warden in two different counties on Lake Sam Rayburn has given him the ability to locate lost boaters with minimal information.

He has also been instrumental in responding to nearly every land-falling hurricane disaster that has impacted the Texas coast in the past 15 years.  He has rescued numerous people during Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Rita, Ike and Harvey.

In April 2016, Wood and a civilian rider were patrolling the Neches River when he received a call from Houston County Game Warden Zak Benge saying he had been in a boat accident and was ejected from his boat to the Neches River. He had been hurt badly and could not move his leg. Benge gave an estimate to his location and Wood was about 15 river miles away.

When he arrived, Wood found the boat next to the bank and spotted warden Benge in the river hanging on to a bush. Wood and his civilian partner reached Benge and were able to get him out of the water and onto the bank and began to apply dry clothing items to help him retain body heat and prevent hypothermia.

These actions coupled with the action of others that arrived later resulted in the successful extraction of Benge from the remote Neches River bottom via helicopter. Warden Benge made a full recovery and was able to return to work one year later.

For photos of the awards, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Flickr page.