From FBI Director Christopher Wray at the Memorial Service for Special Agent Laura Schwartzenberger, Miami Gardens, Florida.
Good afternoon. On behalf of the entire FBI, it’s an honor to be here today to remember Special Agent Dan Alfin.
Dan’s legacy is one of passion, dedication, and principle. It’s what you imagine when you think of a proud FBI agent who will do anything to catch the bad guy and a devoted father who would do anything for his family.
Like yesterday, when we paid tribute to Special Agent Laura Schwartzenberger—whose family also joins us in honoring Dan today—there are no good words to make sense of a loss like this. For a day like today.
But I’d like to share a few of the same words from yesterday in remembrance of Dan, as they ring true of his legacy, too. And I’m confident that if Laura were here today, she would agree that she and Dan were cut from the same patriotic cloth.
So today, there is a heaviness in our hearts, a burden unlike any other, because there is nothing more devastating to the FBI Family than the loss of an agent in the line of duty.
It is the news we pray will never come—and when it does, every FBI employee feels it deep down in their souls, whether they had the privilege of knowing Dan or not. Because we all know the risks our agents take, every day, to uphold an oath often taken long ago, knowing that life can change forever in an instant.
On Tuesday, we lost not one of our own, but two. Two warriors who took on one of the hardest jobs in the FBI, crimes against children. Two best friends who shared the same passion, the same determination, and—in spite of all they had witnessed in their extraordinary careers—the same sense of optimism and hope that comes from work that matters. Two of the very best the FBI had to offer.
It’s heartbreaking. There’s no other word for it. It’s heartbreaking for the law enforcement community, for the American people they served, and—most of all—it’s heartbreaking for Dan’s family.
But, looking around this stadium again today, at all the people who have come to honor Dan from all over the country—many of whom joined us yesterday, too—we see the warmth, the support, and the sheer strength of the greater law enforcement family right when it’s needed most.
A greater law enforcement family all too familiar with sorrow, having lost so many of your own officers in the line of duty.
So from the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of every member of the FBI Family, I say thank you to everyone who is here, and all who are watching, for paying tribute to Dan today—a true American hero. And for the unconditional support that so many of you continue to provide for Dan’s family.
Being an FBI special agent is one of the most coveted and prestigious jobs that one could ever dream of having. It demands the highest levels of academic fortitude, sound judgment, and—above all—bravery and integrity.
Just before new special agents walk across the graduation stage at Quantico, they swear an oath confirming who they want to be and the kind of life they want to lead—one dedicated to service over self. To protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution of the United States.
Many of you here knew and loved Dan more than anyone. You knew his brilliance and famously dry humor. You loved his tenacity and his heart—one full of passion for fighting for children every single day.
And while I didn’t have the privilege of knowing Dan the way you did, what I’ve learned over the past few days is that Dan lived by his sworn oath. He was so proud to have been part of something bigger than himself, just as he always put his family first.
Dan entered on duty as an agent in 2009. His first office was Albany. Folks there remember him as an energetic, incredibly motivated new agent who quickly taught the seasoned agents a thing or two, especially when it came to computers. And from what I’ve heard—both in Albany and throughout Dan’s career—there was a heck of a lot of, “Dan, I owe you one,” thrown his way.
Now, anyone who knows Dan knows that he was not a fan of the cold Albany winters. Or the cold Albany summers, for that matter. What he really wanted was to move back to Florida.
So, in 2014, Dan left Albany for the Crimes Against Children Unit at Headquarters, in the slightly warmer climate of Linthicum, Maryland, outside of D.C. Dan had already become known as an innovator with an unsurpassed understanding of the technical side of crimes against children. And that made him a standout agent in his new assignment.
He also played a major role in the Violent Crimes Against Children International Task Force, training the FBI’s global partners and presenting his casework around the world.
Agents in the field and our law enforcement partners both knew they not only had an expert but an advocate in Dan. His work represented to so many what could be accomplished with intellect, resolve, and a passion for saving children.
Dan’s team won a Director’s Award—the highest honor possible in the Bureau—for Operation Pacifier, a global investigation that took down one of the largest child sexual exploitation sites on the dark web. Its users were the worst of the worst—the stuff of nightmares. And Dan’s expertise helped identify them and stop the victimization of so many innocent children.
Dan was both the primary case agent and the driving force behind the operation, which still stands as the FBI’s most successful operation conducted on the dark web against online child sex offenders—ever. Dan was the one agent—the expert—who traveled all around the country, testifying in support of the techniques used in the operation.
After three outstanding years in Maryland, Dan finally made it back to sunny Florida in 2017. His colleagues would ask him why anyone would want to move somewhere so hot and humid, and his answer was always the same: “Because it’s glorious!”
One of his former squadmates dropped in to see him not long ago, and when she asked how he was doing, his response was, “I’m in Florida, living the dream!” And he absolutely meant it. He was doing exactly the kind of work he wanted to do in the exact place he wanted to be doing it, surrounded by the very people he loved most.
Dan was living his best life, as the saying goes, and he set an inspiring example for each and every one of us.
Dan will long be remembered for the impact he made on the Bureau and for the scores of lives he changed through his work. And for all the children who are safe today and have a chance at a better life because of what Dan did to protect them. Work that I know Squad C-18 will carry forward, honoring both Dan and Laura.
He’ll be remembered for his doggedness and persistence. Without fail, his friends and colleagues remark that he didn’t know how to quit. He was capable of doing things most people never thought possible. He could figure anything out, and he wouldn’t stop until he did.
He’ll be remembered for being the smartest guy in any room—in the right way. He could have easily gotten a job making big money anywhere he wanted, but where his heart belonged was here, in Florida, with this mission—working for the Bureau to keep America’s children safe, to slay the monsters most of us would never want to meet.
And it’s unbelievable to most of us that Dan could spend day after day in that dark place and still be able to laugh and smile and—lest we forget—dazzle everyone with photos of his latest barbecue masterpiece. To spend his days fighting for children he would never meet, only to race home to be with the loves of his life.
He’ll be remembered for his wit. His friends say he wasn’t just the smartest person they’d ever worked with—he was the funniest. And that’s a pretty rare combination.
And Dan will always be remembered for his big heart. For always being the first to come to the defense of an underdog. For covering a colleague’s cases for weeks on end while they coped with a family emergency. For helping a friend through a divorce. For being the one who always had your back, no matter what.
Dan will also be remembered as a man who loved his family beyond measure. You meant the world to Dan. He was so proud of you, and he loved you deeply. Anyone who had the privilege of working with him knew that to be true.
Nothing can bring Dan back, but I hope you take some measure of comfort in knowing that you will always be part of our FBI Family, that we’ll always honor his ultimate sacrifice, and that we’ll always be here for you for anything you need.
Dan was beloved in his field, and his death is grieved around the world by all levels of law enforcement tackling crimes against children. In talking to folks, the one word that keeps coming up is this: irreplaceable.
Dan had that rare combination of technical acumen, relentless work ethic, and unending passion for saving children. He was never going to give up. He was never going to stop doing whatever he could to help. And so it’s true. He is irreplaceable. He’s irreplaceable to us in the FBI. He’s irreplaceable to the larger law enforcement community. And most of all, he’s irreplaceable to his family.
That’s why when we look up at the Wall of Honor, at FBI Headquarters and in every FBI field office—where Dan’s name will be inscribed right next to Laura’s—we’ll see a hero. A great man who gave all for his country and for the people he served. A colleague, a friend, a husband, and a father who exemplified the very best qualities of courage, hope, and love.
We are so grateful in the FBI to have shared Dan with so many, and so grateful to Dan’s family for sharing him with us. There’s not a doubt in my mind that the FBI today is better and stronger because of what Dan gave to all of us.
And we in the FBI will work every day to honor him by carrying his legacy forward.
It will live on in the FBI, in his family, and in our hearts.
May the memory of who Dan was, what he stood for, and what he meant to all of us give you comfort in the days to come.
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