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Tommy R. Austin    Tommy R. Austin was the U. S. Customs Service agent responsible for the investigation of the illegal exportation of American industrial high technology, weapons of war, nuclear weapons, nuclear devices, and enforcing the Trading with the Enemy Act from 1994 to 1997.

      Before that he posed as a drug smuggler, drug dealer, importer, financier and other persons involved in international organized criminal narcotics smuggling and money laundering organizations. Even before that he was a patrol officer on the

waterfront in Houston and numerous areas of the Texas/Mexico border, and served as a "sky marshal" preventing the hijacking of United States flagship aircraft by terrorists.

     When Tommy Austin graduated from Sam Houston State University in 1975 with a bachelor of science in law enforcement/police science, he might have anticipated at least some of the dangerous and exciting assignments he has faced. What he did not anticipate, however, was meeting a four-year-old boy named Christopher Greicius in Phoenix, Ariz., in 1977, and what would happen as a result of that meeting.

     Chris Greicius was suffering from cancer and his greatest wish was to be a police officer. After Austin and his law enforcement friends gave Chris helicopter and police cruiser rides, a badge, and his own uniform, complete with police helmet and goggles, the Greicius Make-A-Wish Foundation was born.

     The Make-A-Wish Foundation has grown to hundreds of chapters and divisions throughout the United States and the world, with thousands of volunteers and millions of dollars raised to grant the wishes of more than 50,000 children with life-threatening diseases.

     Austin, now retired from the Customs Service and living in Spring, has earned his Masters of Social Work from the University of Houston. With the awards, memberships, and involvements he has amassed in his law enforcement and volunteer agency career, he expects little idle time during his retirement.

     He received the United States Department of the Treasury Albert Gallatin Award this year, along with being named an outstanding alumnus of SHSU's College of Criminal Justice. In 1996 he was presented the SAVVY Award as Houston's Volunteer of the Year, and was the first recipient of the "Austin Award" as the U. S. Customs Service's Humanitarian of the Year in 1989.

     He has also been presented Commissioner of the U. S. Customs Service Awards three times, numerous in-service awards from the Customs Service, the National Child Labor Committee's Louis Hine Award, and the Jaycees Spoke Award.

     Austin and his wife, Kay, have five children and four grandchildren. 

As profiled at the October 30, 1998 Distinguished Alumni Banquet

 

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