TSA honors slain agent at DC headquarters

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) held a memorial at its Arlington, Va., headquarters on Monday for its agent that was killed in a shooting at the Los Angeles International Airport earlier this month.

The ceremony was held in honor of 39-year-old Gerardo Hernandez, who was killed by a man wielding a rifle police believe was targeting TSA agents on Nov. 1.

TSA Administrator John Pistole said in his remarks that Hernandez's death was a big loss for the airport security agency.

"All of us gathered here share a common dedication to serve and secure our nation and it is through this commitment that each of us was touched by the loss of Gerardo Hernandez earlier this month," Pistole said.

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"As we have come to know in the two-and-a-half weeks since the shooting at LAX, the TSA family lost much more than a trained and highly capable security officer when Gerardo Hernandez was killed on the morning of November 1st," Pistole continued. "From those who had the pleasure to know him, we learned he was a man of great character who possessed many of the qualities we look for in ourselves; he was joyful and compassionate,  and his demeanor on the job was exemplary."  

Hernandez was the first TSA agent to be killed in the line of duty since the agency was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Pistole told the agency's employees that the TSA would display a permanent reminder of Hernandez at its headquarters.

"In the coming weeks we will place a bronze plaque at TSA headquarters in the area we call Mission Hall, dedicated to the service and memory of Officer Gerardo Hernandez," Pistole said.  

The chairman of the House committee that oversees the TSA said he was "honored" to attend Hernandez's D.C. memorial service on Monday.

“I was honored to join the family and friends of Officer Hernandez to commemorate his life and service to our country," Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), who is chairman of the House Transportation Security subcommittee, said in a statement.

"We owe a debt of gratitude to Officer Hernandez and our transportation security officers who put themselves in harm’s way for our safety," Hudson continued. "Officer Hernandez will be remembered as a true American hero, one who valiantly dedicated his life to protecting our air-travelers. I will continue to work with my colleagues and the transportation security community to investigate the senseless attack that occurred to ensure TSA and our airports have the tools to keep all Americans safe.”

The TSA also held a memorial for Hernandez in Los Angeles earlier this month that was attended by Attorney General Eric Holder.

Holder said TSA agents like Hernandez were "unappreciated" in his remarks at the agency's Los Angeles memorial.