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FBI Special Agent Finds Adventure 'Chasing Down Bad Guys'

March 2, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Meredith Mohr

Special agent David Mohr (second from right) participated in the Hostage Rescue Team tactical aircraft training in Virginia in 1994. —Submitted photos

Whether he stands in front of a room full of students or a full courtroom, after 24 years what is most evident in the character of FBI special agent David Mohr, isn’t his long resume of accomplishment and experience.

Rather, it is the quiet resolve and firm commanding presence that comes from a daily test of character and commitment to keeping the United States protected and the courage required to step in when that safety is in jeopardy that speaks the loudest.

For Mohr, who participated in the liberation of Department of Justice employees during the Talledega Federal Prison takeover and spent 50 days working on the tactical resolution of the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco in 1993, among other assignments, this is what is at the heart of a job with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

At its core, it comes down to understanding exactly what his job is.

There are other things to understand, of course – a whole career’s worth learned after many days “in the field,” as he says.

Mohr, a 1981 graduate of Sam Houston State University, talked about his jobs with the FBI over the years in a talk he gave for Real Talk with CJ at the Criminal Justice Center in October. He noted that it is important to understand the bureau then and now.

“There have been a lot of changes, but there have also been some things that have remained the same,” Mohr said. “You’d be surprised at how many people come up to me and make statements about the FBI that are false. For instance, people will often ask me, ‘have you ever protected the president?’ But the FBI doesn’t protect the president. It’s important to understand what the FBI does and how it is organized.”

The FBI has 56 major field offices across the United States in major cities, with individual squads called resident agencies within the offices.

The crimes covered by agents working out of resident agencies are a wide range including terrorism, counterintelligence, cyber crime, public corruption, civil rights, major criminal enterprises, organized crime, white collar crime, illegal drugs and gangs and violent crimes. In recent years, top priority has been given to counterterrorism.

Following four years of service as an officer in the U.S. Marines, Mohr was accepted into the FBI and worked in the Rossville Resident Agency in Georgia.

In the first few years of his career, Mohr remembers a day in the life of an agent as being far from the stereotype associated with the FBI.

“Remember that show Miami Vice and the agents with their cool cars and their snazzy suits? It wasn’t like that,” Mohr said with a laugh. “Agents didn’t even get a bureau car. We had one phone to share…I’d come in, have a cup of coffee, be in the office for a while, then get out into the streets. For a few days I’d be in and out of the office working our areas, mostly on cases with drug dealing.”

After working in Georgia, he was selected for the Hostage Rescue Team, known for it’s “best of the best” agents who can deploy in highly dangerous hostage situations anywhere nationally and internationally in maritime and air capacities within four hours.

“In 1992 I decided to try out,” Mohr said. “The selection process was extensive and extremely difficult. Being a former Marine, I thought I’d been through some pretty difficult situations and training, but I had never seen anything like this before.”

The HRT is an elite group of agents whose job is to prepare for and act swiftly and efficiently in any hostage situations that arise. Training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., they practice a combination of techniques taken from the British Special Air Service, the Israeli police force, the U.S. Army and the Navy Seals.

Mohr said some of his greatest career highlights were while he was on HRT.

Mohr enjoyed traditional Afghani cuisine while serving in the Middle East with the 3rd Special Forces group in Operation Enduring Freedom.

He provided counterterrorism assistance during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga. He also assisted with the hunt for fugitive and Olympic bomber Eric Rudolf in Andrews, N.C., in 1996-1997. He has provided force protection for investigators in support of the International Crime Tribunal of Yugoslavia in Pristina, Kosovo, and for investigators in Aden, Yemen, during the terror bombing of the USS Cole.

In 2001, Mohr was part of the investigation of the Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

Also in 2001, Mohr was assigned as supervisor of the critical incident response group in the rapid deployment logistics unit in Stafford, Va.

In 2002, he was transferred to the Tyler resident agency out of the Dallas field division. While assigned to the Dallas field division, Mohr participated in the search and recovery of the Space Shuttle Columbia astronauts in Lufkin in 2003.

Mohr also served for three months overseas in the Middle East in 2005, providing counterterrorism investigative and tactical support while assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group in Operation Enduring Freedom in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Currently, Mohr still works in the Tyler resident agency as a special agent. He has been married to his wife Rebecca for 22 years and they have three children—Meredith, Kate and Joseph.

As he remembers some of the biggest moments in his career, Mohr notes that the common thread they all shared was not only tactical resolution of situations and fighting of crime, but also holding up his end of the bargain - a bargain he remembers every day as one of the most important parts of his job.

“So many of the things I’ve done and been a part of, like the Waco Siege with the Branch Davidians, have asked certain things of me,” Mohr said. “We were there from the day it started to the day it finished; it was an assignment that required sacrifice and commitment and courage. That’s what it takes to be in the FBI.”



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