History of the Border Patrol

  • 1920's

    On May 28, 1924, Congress passed the Labor Appropriations Act of 1924, officially establishing the United States Border Patrol, with a force of 450 Patrol Inspectors. Their purpose was to secure the borders between Ports of Entry.

    The government initially provided the inspectors with a badge and a revolver. Recruits furnished their own horse and saddle, and the government provided the oats and hay for the horses. The Patrol Inspectors were paid $1,680 per year, and in December 1924 Congress approved additional funding for uniforms.

    In 1925, the duties of  the Border Patrol were expanded to patrol the seacoast areas and the agency finally reached its manpower projection of 450 officers.

    Finding suitable manpower was difficult, as the pool of applicants was limited. Many inspectors were recruited from organizations such as the Texas Rangers, local sheriff deputies, and appointees from the Civil Service Register of Railroad Mail Clerks. Another source of manpower were Mounted Inspectors from the Chinese Division of the Department of Labor’s Immigration Service.

    The new Border Patrol Inspectors discovered they had no authority to arrest anyone-the laws didn’t exist yet. February 27, 1925, Congress established the Border Patrol’s law enforcement authority, with the passage of the Act of 1925.

    There were two Chiefs appointed to lead the Border Patrol. Ruel Davenport, and George J. Harris were appointed, one headed the Northern Border and the other the Southern Border.v

  • 1930's

    The Border Patrol continued to operate under two Chiefs starting the 1930s. Liquor smuggling was a major concern on both borders as the United States continued to operate under Prohibition. The Prohibition era was the most violent in the history of the Border Patrol. Over thirty officers lost their lives during this time period. 

    Recognizing the need for better-trained officers, the El Paso District established the El Paso District Training School for officers in the District. The school started in 1934, in El Paso, and taught such subjects as the Spanish language, immigration law, officer conduct, search and seizure laws, evidence and court procedures, firearms , Morse code,  patrolling techniques, and sign cutting. The school was such a success, that in December, 1937, the Immigration Service renamed the school the Border Patrol Training School (BPTS) and required for all recruits, nationwide, to attend.

    In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt consolidated the Bureau of Immigration and the Bureau of Naturalization into the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

    Elementary steps were taken to develop ground to air communications, between ground units and air assets. They were not very successful and the primary way of communicating was still Morse code.

    Gun battles with liquor smugglers continued through out the decade and until the end of prohibition.

  • 1940's

    The War Years

    With war clouds gathering in Europe the Congress of the United States became increasingly worried about the security of its land borders. The U.S. Border Patrol was moved from the Department of Labor and into the Department of Justice, and their manpower was doubled from 773 Border Patrol officers in 1939 to 1,531 in 1941.

    With the advent of World War II, it became increasingly difficult to maintain staffing levels. War mobilization had brought a new wave of job opportunities to American cities and towns. Wages were high, and American workers had many options.  Active Border Patrol officers either volunteered to serve in the nation’s armed services or were drafted into military service.

    In order to increase the pool of eligible applicants, Border Patrol eased recruitment standards and simplified the Civil Service exam. Even with these measures it was still difficult to recruit applicants. As the war continued the Border Patrol began to get applicants from returning veterans, by 1943 almost half of the new recruits being war veterans. From planes to personnel, the Border Patrol received the human and manufactured surplus of the war. Vacancies and shortages plagued the Border Patrol throughout the war.

    When the United States entered World War II, the scope of Border Patrol responsibilities expanded. Officers were assigned to patrol the nation’s coast lines looking for enemy submarines and possible saboteurs. In California, officers transported Japanese American and Japanese immigrants to internment camps operated by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Officers also served as guards at internment camps throughout the war. Border Patrolmen also interviewed German and Italian nationals regarding their sympathies for Hitler and fascism.

    The assignment of U.S. Border Patrol personnel to support the war effort by performing submarine watches, guarding internment camps, and conducting immigration investigations, and monitoring the new Bracero program introduced changes to the priorities and practices of Border Patrol Operations.

  • 1950's

    A Decade of Change

    The 1950s were one of the most dynamic periods in the history of the Border Patrol. Improved technology and operational dynamics, including responding to increased Congressional mandates concerning illegal immigration, led to the continued development of the Border Patrol as a modern law enforcement agency.

    After the end of World War II, the Border Patrol began to concentrate more on enforcing our nation’s immigration policy.  At the end of 1945, the Border Patrol had apprehended 69,164 deportable aliens. By the end of the decade, the Border Patrol had apprehended 288,253 deportable aliens.  With the increasing numbers of illegal immigration along the nation’s southern border, the Border Patrol had to develop new strategies to combat this problem

    In 1950, Patrol Inspector Albert Quillin devised a new strategy targeting the increasing numbers of illegal immigrants. Quillin’s strategy involved using a large number of Patrol Inspectors, enhanced communication capabilities,  transport vehicles, mobile processing centers, and aircraft to target a specific area. This coordinated approach to enforcement was soon renamed a ‘task force’ and became the model for enforcement along the southern border.

    In 1954, the Border Patrol initiated Operation Wetback, which was an enhanced version of the task force model previously developed in 1950. The Operation Wetback model blended the aggressive targeting of illegal aliens with mass deportations to the interior of Mexico.

    By the end of 1954, the Border Patrol had apprehended 1,075,168 Mexican nationals. The following year the number of apprehensions dropped to 242,608 and in 1956 the number plummeted to 72,442 deportable aliens.

    These mass deportations led to increased use of the Bracero Program by American business interests and ended the crisis of out of control illegal immigration along the southern border for the remainder of the decade.

  • 1960’s

    During the 1960s the United States Border Patrol continued its development as a professional law enforcement organization. The new decade brought new challenges, new endings, and new beginnings.

    The Border Patrol Training School and the Border Patrol Academy had its beginnings in El Paso, Texas. In June 1961, the decision was made to move the academy from El Paso to an old Naval Air Station near Port Isabel, Texas. On July 24th, the 78th Session of the Border Patrol Academy began training at the site. It remained at that location through the 113th session,

    when the Academy was transferred to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia.

    The Bracero Program, which began in the 1950s, with the enactment of Public Law 78 ended December 31, 1963 with the termination of PL Law 78. The termination of the program was linked to: (1) Economic and employment conditions in the United States which served to reduce the numbers of employers certified to as eligible to use Braceros; (2) Resistance on the part of growers to the increasingly restrictive provisions relating to the use of Braceros; and (3) Large scale mechanization of farming and harvesting.

    Civil Rights issues and airplane hijackings were two issues that led to Border Patrol inspectors being deputized as U.S. Marshals and Sky Marshals during the sixties.  In Operation Freeway, over 300 Border Patrol inspectors were deputized to assist the Marshal Service in assisting James Meredith, a black man, register at the University of Mississippi. The situation led to a riot and 72 Border Patrolmen were injured securing Mr. Meredith’s safety and successful enrollment in the University.

    Four hijackings between May and August, 1961 led President Kennedy to assign Border Patrol inspectors to fly on commercial jets. They were the forerunners of the Sky Marshals program.

  • 1970's

    The 70’s brought change to the Border Patrol. In 1970, the Patrol Inspector title was changed to Patrol Agent and in 1975 the first female agents were hired along with an increase in minority hiring. The 1980s and 1990s saw a tremendous increase of illegal migration to the United States. The Border Patrol responded with increases in manpower and the implementation of modern technology. Infrared night-vision scopes, seismic sensors, and a modern computer processing system helped the Patrol locate, apprehend and process those crossing into the United States illegally.

  • 1980’s

    The Border Patrol, during the 1980s, had an authorized force of approximately 2,725 agents, and an on-duty force of 2,431 agents. They faced continuing pressure from illegal immigration, increased drug trafficking, and new pressures from illegal immigration from Haiti, Iran, and Cuba. There would be increased call for immigration reform.

    In 1980, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro decided to release a large number of dissidents, criminals, and persons with mental illnesses from prisons, and institutions and send them to the United States. People from the United States were encouraged to come to Cuba and transport the Cubans back to the United States.

    People from the United States were encouraged to come to Cuba and transport the Cubans back to the United States. Additionally, many came to the United States by their own means, which included boats, rafts, and a variety of transportation means.

    To deal with the crisis, the Border Patrol sent 100 agents, two light aircraft, and 30 vehicles into Florida to help handle the influx of Cuban entrants. Eventually the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) detailed 622 INS employees (130 border patrol agents, 492 immigration officers and clerks) to assist the 100 employees stationed permanently in Miami at the various processing centers.

    The INS, and national law enforcement agencies would deal with Cuban criminals for the remainder of the decade.

    Border Patrol apprehensions of illegal entrants would gradually increase from 759,420 persons in 1980 to over 1.1 million persons in 1983. As rumor of a potential amnesty provision in the proposed Immigration reform act gained credence, illegal entries and apprehensions increased to a high of 1,692,544 in 1986, the year the new law was enacted. For two years following the implementation of the new law apprehensions were below one million persons. However, in 1990 the one million mark was reached again, and would remain over one million for the next 12 years.

    With a change in administrations, the Border Patrol began to receive additional funding that helped reverse the serious issues encountered by the end of the 1970s. Between 1980 and 1986, the following operational, technical and administrative initiatives had an impact on the Border Patrol:

    • The horse patrol was reinstituted in 1981
    • Adopted military insignia parallel to military rankings 1981
    • Received the first OH-6 helicopters on loan from the Army 1981
    • Night vision scopes ANTAS-4 and 6s, were introduced for field operations 1981-1982
    • Night vision scopes ANTAS-4 and 6s, were introduced for field operations 1981-1982
    • The entire Border Patrol Academy curriculum was revamped 1983. The Patrol became the first Federal Law Enforcement agency to validate their courses.
    • Aircraft pilot training program was initiated in 1983
    • The use of ATV-90s and motorcycles were authorized in 1983
    • The first Low Level Light TV system (LLTV) was installed in El Paso 1983
    • Border Patrol Tactical Team (BORTAC) was established in 1983 for the following reasons: (a) conduct special operations including overseas operations; (b) to respond to civil disturbances
    • With extensive input by all Border Patrol Sectors, the Central Office Border Patrol (COBOR) staff formulated an enhancement package which was improved by OMB and Congress in 1984, providing the Patrol with a much-needed increase in funding of $35.6 million dollars and 850 new positions
      • Efforts to upgrade journeyman Patrol Agents were initiated in 1985 resulting in a limited number of upgrades from GS-9 to GS-11
      • The concept of using canines for Border Patrol operations was formulated in 1986. A professional canine program was launched by Chief Hugh Graham and his staff 1987-1988

      The remainder of the decade was dedicated to improving on the above initiatives and training INS employees, including the Border Patrol on the new Immigration Reform and Control Act.

  • 1990's

    In an effort to increase the level of control on border, El Paso sector established Operation ‘Hold the Line’ in 1993, and it proved to be an immediate success. Agents and technology were concentrated in specific areas, providing a ‘show of force’ to deter illegal border crossers.

    The drastic reduction in apprehensions prompted the Border Patrol to undertake a full scale effort in San Diego, California, which accounted for more than half of illegal entries. Operation ‘Gatekeeper’ was implemented in 1994, and reduced illegal entries by more than 75 percent over the next few years. A defined strategic plan was introduced alongside Operation ‘Gatekeeper’ that laid out the course of action for the Border Patrol into the future. With illegal entries at a more manageable level, the Patrol was able to concentrate on other areas, such as the establishment of Anti-Smuggling Units, and search and rescue units such as BORSTAR. The Border Safety Initiative was created in 1998 with a commitment by the Border Patrol, and the guaranteed cooperation of the Mexican Government.

  • 2000's

    Homeland Security became a primary concern of the nation after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. On March 1st, 2003, the Border Patrol along with four other Federal entities merged into Customs and Border Protection, under the Department of Homeland Security. The U.S. Border Patrol continues its efforts to control our nation’s borders.

    The 21st century promises to provide enormous leaps in technology that can be applied to border enforcement. The modernization of the Patrol advances at an astounding rate as new generations of agents develop innovative ways to integrate the contemporary technology into field operations.

    New specialized technology is being created within the Border Patrol that holds increasing potential to assist agents in fulfilling the mission of the Patrol. Additional cooperation with neighboring countries increases border safety and law enforcement efforts.

Oral History Interviews

Daniel Gibson

Mr. Gibson entered the U.S. Border Patrol as a member of the 85th Academy Session in January 1966. He furnished this oral history to the National Border Patrol Museum via e-mail on May 17 2009.

Q - Growing up: Date & place of birth parents’ occupation etc.

A – I was born 10/10/1935 in Scranton PA to Alexander and Dorothy Gibson. My father was a butcher but went to work in about 1939 for Crown Can Company as a mechanic. He repaired Closing Machines (put tops on cans) in canning plants. My mother was a housewife except for a brief period during WWII when she worked for Glen L. Martin aircraft company in Essex MD.

Q - Where did you grow up schools attended.

A – From age 6 I grew up in Dundalk MD. The first few years we were bussed to several different schools till arriving in Dundalk Jr. Sr. High School. I was there from 7th through 12th grades.

Q - Why did you decide to apply for a position in the Border Patrol when? Where?

A – I was a police officer and I shot in local competitions including a league in Baltimore that included many state and federal agencies. I was bored with my job and looking for something else when I met two guys on the federal team. Sheldon Coon was with Immigration and the other fellow was with Customs. I applied for both and Immigration called first. This was in 1965 in Baltimore Md.

Q - What was your starting salary?

A – I have no idea what my starting salary was.

Q - Where did you attend the Border Patrol Academy?

A – Class number 85 at Port Isabel TX.

Q - Where were you stationed and what positions did you hold?

A – McAllen Texas Patrol Inspector: Sould Ste Marie PI and BPA; Miami FL. BPA Detroit MI. Investigator; Miami Fl BPA; West Palm Beach Fl. Patrol Agent in Charge; Miami Fl. Anti Smuggling Agent.

Q - What significant details did you participate in?

A – The poor peoples campaign in Washington DC; Operation Intercept Calexico CA.

Q - During your career were you detailed to activities outside the Border Patrol?

A – Designated US marshal for the Poor Peoples Campaign.

Q - Please describe your favorite activities or special expertise in the Border Patrol.

A – I had no special Expertise I was a slogger. I guess my best trait was I didn’t let go.

Q - Identify some of the other Border Patrolmen you worked with. Which ones impressed you the most?

A – I thought Kerry Jacobson was the smartest agent I ever came across. He had the whole case detail by detail layed out in his head and could instantly retrieve and part of the puzzle.

Q - How many Sectors did you work in? If you wish please name the Sector Chiefs.

A – I worked in the Detroit Sector under Warren Long and the Miami Sector under Eugene Chaput and Carl Reidenger There was another chief at Miami but I will not name him because he was crook and a disgrace to our uniform.

Q - What supervisory positions did you hold? Which was your favorite?

A – I was the PAIC at West Palm Beach Fl. That’s the only one so I guess its my favorite.

Q - An example of your most frightening and/or funniest situation?

A – I have used up all of my war stories.

Q - Did you remain in the Patrol until retirement or did you pursue other Service activities?

A – I stayed till the end of my career.

Q - What changes would you have recommended during your career?

A – Take the guy who made the decisions about the weapons we could carry and put him in charge of a pre school nursery.

Q - What did you do after leaving the Border Patrol?

A – After retiring I bought a Subway franchise and built it in Charlotte NC. I enjoyed building the store (I was prime contractor) but once I opened I discovered the joys of supervising low pay employees. I spent most of my days and night in the store because the employees just didn’t show up for work so I had to. After selling the store I did insurance investigations for American International. The pay was good and they treated me fine but I found I was in a hotel room somewhere four nights a week.

Q – Then what did you do?

A – I found a job as a criminal Investigator with the common wealth of Virginia. I investigated odometer rollbacks counterfeit titles false drivers license applications and fuels tax evasion. I finally found something I was genuinely good at. They left me alone and I put a lot of bad guys in jail. It was fun. I retired after 9 years and came to Florida. Since 2001 I have been doing background investigations under contracts with the department of defense Treasury and Homeland Security. My cup runneth over. End of Oral History Statement.

David V. Blackwell

Mr. Blackwell entered the U.S. Border Patrol with the 26th Training Session on March 20 1944. He was one of the first generation of Officers who established the Border Patrol as one of the elite enforcement agencies in the United States. I believe readers would be interested to know that some of this same generation included: Charles Beechie Bob Stewart Herman Moore Bill Toney Harlan Carter Jim Kelly Bill Jordan Tom Maddrey Elmo Rainbolt Ed Cupp Robin Clack Jim Greene Jeff Fell Bill Sabin Tom Ball & Don Coppock. They and many others in this generation well understood the motto “Honor First” One has only to contemplate the last paragraph of Mr. Blackwell’s oral history to understand.

Today is May 16 1987. My name is David Van Blackwell I was born on October 9 1922 in Altoona Iowa. Dorothy Gohman and I were married in Edinburg Texas on June 20 1942. We have two daughters. The older is Carolyn Jean now Mrs. Raymond Kretz who was born June 14 1944 at Weslaco Texas and Barbara Ann now Mrs. Alan Weikel born September 24 1946 at McAllen Texas.

I entered on duty in the Border Patrol at McAllen Texas on March 20 1944. During the years I was in the Service I was stationed at Edinburg Falfurrias McAllen and Hebbronville Texas. I then went to Houlton Maine and Burlington Vermont. Returning to Texas I was stationed in Brownsville Port Isabel and El Paso Texas where I retired on December 31 1976. The positions I held included Patrol Inspector Patrol Inspector-in-charge Senior Patrol Inspector Intelligence Officer Regional Air Detail Officer Deputy Chief Patrol Inspector and Chief Patrol Agent.

At the time I entered the Service the key personnel in the McAllen Sector were: Fletcher L. Rawls Chief Patrol Inspector; John R. Peavey Assistant Chief Patrol Inspector; W. Gregory Hale Senior Patrol Inspector (he was assigned to headquarters to do the administrative work); and Autogiro Pilot Ned Henderson. There were two clerk stenos: Winifred Whitten and Earlene Kiefer. Radio Operators that I recall were Glenn Gerhardt Kenneth Lombard and Marcella Cikanek.

I can’t remember if there was a fourth operator. The garage was under the direction of Johnny Griffin and the other mechanic out there was Rodolfo Alvarado. The Seniors for the various stations included: James P. Cottingham and Walter Swain both at McAllen; Charlie Wallis Brownsville; Ireneus E. Snavel at San Benito; Bill Holt at Harlingen; Dlaso Kite at La Feria; Clifton D. Brown at Mercedes; and Charles R. Wroten Westlaco. I believe Thomas E. Phillips was a Senior at Mission. Jesse Perez was a Senior at Rio Grande City but he died soon after and Delbert A. Valentine was the Senior there. Oscar Stetson was Senior at Roma Earnest A “Cap” Kilborn at Raymondville William M. Davis at Falfurrias and I don’t recall who was Senior at Kingsville at that time.

The San Antonio District was the parent organization to the sector and was under the direction of William A. Whalen District Director. I think John Holland was the Deputy D.D. but I am not positive of that. Hubert P. Brady was the District Chief Enforcement Officer. Mr. Walter Mehlhause was the District Administrative Officer. The Chief of the Laredo Sector was Elmer DeBrail and his Assistant Chief was Charles R. Kirk. The Chief at Del Rio was Buck West and his Assistant Chief was Charlie McBee. The sectors were called sub-districts also and each one had a number but I don’t remember what they were. I rather think McAllen was Sub-district #3.

The policy of the service at the time I entered on duty was for trainees to work three or four months at each of three different stations and this gave them an opportunity to be exposed to the various types of patrol operations and also to receive on the job training and evaluation by a variety of experienced officers. The school which I think was called the Border Patrol Training School was of six weeks duration and was held at the old El Paso Sector Headquarters. It was called Camp Chigas. The trainees were divided into northern and southern border trainees. The northern border men were required to learn C. W. (morse code) for radio transmissions but the southern border P.I.’s were not required to take that course and instead were required to study Spanish. Prior to our class I think everyone had to learn C.W. I know all the older officers I worked with could send Morse code messages.

When I was at the training school they didn’t have any particular housing or living accommodations for us. They had arranged with an old hotel downtown and a lot of individual home owners to rent rooms to trainees. The homes were scattered all over town. We all either walked or rode street cars between Headquarters where we took our classes everyday and wherever we were staying.

My first station was Edinburg where Oscar D. Kelly was the Senior. He was from Indiana and had been a stone-mason prior to entering the Border Patrol. He and a brother owned really good farmland in Indiana and he would go home annually and visit relatives and also see about his property up there. He was a bachelor. He told me that when he came in the Border Patrol (I think he entered on duty in 1934) that he had had several suits. He saw no sense in having any civilian clothes so he had never bought another suit and the only civilian clothes he owned were a few pairs of “wash” pants and work shirts that he could wear when he was working in the yard at the house where he was living. Other than that he wore a uniform at all times never out of uniform and he insisted that all of us at the station dress as he did. He said that when he came in he was the last man hired for two years which put him low man on the totem pole for a long time and he was assigned all the menial tasks like washing cars and just other flunky jobs until another officer was hired and entered on duty. Then the new man inherited those jobs. Kelly lived with the Frank E. Berrys; he roomed and boarded with them in Edinburg. Their son known as “Buster” was Frank E. Berry Jr. later joined the Border Patrol and ultimately was an investigator in Pittsburgh. Also their daughter Audry married a man who had a career in the Immigration Service Francis Dawson. Kelly had a 1935 Chevrolet Coach that was just slick as a button. It was in mint condition and so far as I knew he never drove that car except when he went on vacation back to Indiana. Transportation was in pretty short supply during and for some time after the war years. One of the P.I.’s needed a car real bad so Kelly sold his car to him and never owned another. After that when was in the local area he was always on duty and always in a government car but when he went on vacation still in dress uniform armed and all he rode the bus.

The other man at that station when I arrived was Russell K. Golden. He was a P.I. and the two of them made up the force. Two or three weeks after I entered on duty two more trainees Pete Stogner and Hollis Mitchel entered on duty.

The work at that station was primarily apprehending farm workers whether on farms or on the highways en route to work or in town. Kelly’s standing order was to report for work at 6:00 AM unless it was raining in which case you would go in at 8:00AM and report to the office. Many mornings we’d be out at 6:00 AM waiting for daybreak on some canal bank or remote road so we could start checking camps where wets were suspected of living. Golden on the other hand liked to work evening shifts so when Kelly went on leave Golden had us work the evening shift and then when Kelly came back they didn’t break back to his system right away. It took a while so we were working mornings and evenings for several weeks.

My next station was Falflurrias. I transferred up there in September 1944 and stayed until July 1945. The Senior was William M. Davis. Not too many months after I transferred to Falfurrias Davis left the Service to go into the Navy and Bob Dayton acted as Senior the remainder of the time I was stationed there. The work at Falfurrias was mainly traffic check and train check and initially there was very little ranch check. As time went on we had a loss of personnel and were no longer able to maintain anything like a continuous highway check se we began doing more ranch check. While I was at Falfurrias I think pretty early on I hadn’t been there too long they decided that we could not use the Brooks County jail to house aliens overnight and that any we apprehended would have to be transported either to Hidalgo for voluntary departure to Mexico or to McAllen to be put in with their group of aliens or placed in the Hidalgo County jail at Edinburg. It was 65 miles down to Edinburg and another eleven over to McAllen so I don’t know of anyone who used the Edinburg jail. It just wasn’t very practical to drive all the way down there with the certain knowledge that the next day would have to go back and get them and take them on to either Hidalgo or Mcallen.

We did some traffic check at La Gloria which is a little ranch community about halfway between Rio Grande City and Falfurrias. A road leads up from the river into the ranch country and at that point it forks. One fork leads on to Falfurrrias and the other to Hebronville They had the Rio Grande City unit checking that road twelve hours a day and then we held it the other twelve hours each day for several weeks. It was not very productive. I remember sitting out there from seven at night through to seven the next morning and only check two vehicles all night long.

A little about some of the other officers at Falfurras when I was there. Bob Dayton who I have already mentioned resigned not too much later to become a gate keeper at the Lasater Ranch and to work at the new cracking plant northwest of Falfurrias. Another man was Gerald D. Madden. He too resigned a year or two later to go into the grocery business in the Valley. He had been a grocer at Waxahachie before joining the patrol. Dempsey L. King who was later stationed at McAllen and much later than that transferred to the Department of Labor in connection with the enforcement of contact labor laws. Hansford Niles who was another trainee was also there at the time. Niles was later stationed at McAllen and finally retired as Senior Patrol Inspector at Brownsville. Another man there was Oswald Brassell who resigned just a few months after I arrived at Falfurrias to return to Carthage where he was going to seek his fortune in the oil boom. Charles Hinesley was also there. He was really Bill Davis’s Segundo. During the first few months of my time at Falfurrias the officer strength was pretty good so assignments to traffic check work didn’t include either Bill Davis or Charlie Hinesley. As the on-duty force dwindled Charlie started having to pull shifts on the highway too but he was really in a bad way with rheumatoid arthritis. He was a good officer spoke good Spanish did a good job at work but he just couldn’t walk he couldn’t get up and move around. He tried mightily to hold up his end of everything that had to be done. Finally though he just got so bad that he couldn’t continue. His last day of duty he asked me to drive him to McAllen so he could turn in his gear see Mr. Rawls and say good-by to other people there that he was interested. in. When we got to McAllen he asked me to pull into a filling station in town so he could get out and walk around a little bit. I’m positive it took between five and ten minutes for him to get out of the car get to his feet and move his joints enough to be able to walk a little. He was a proud man and just didn’t want anybody at headquarters to see how difficult it was for him to move. He always whistled and carried on as if there were no pain but you knew the pain was excruciating. Anyhow when we got to the office he got out and was able to walk with a little more confidence and dignity than he had displayed when we arrived in McAllen.

Bill Davis came back from the Navy and was reassigned as the second Senior under Charlie Wallis at Brownsville. From there he went on to Laredo as Assistant Chief and from there to Chula Vista as Chief Patrol Inspector. After two or three years in Chula Vista (I’ve forgotten just how long) he went to Newark and finally to Miami as an Investigator. Bill was just a super person; he was a good man but his Spanish and his ability to communicate and deal successfully with Mexican people was outstanding. His father had been an engineer working the silver mines in Mexico. Bill lived in Mexico until he was 12 and was just completely bilingual. Even after he was out of the Patrol he was used to accompany groups of Mexican officials that the Service was transporting up and down the border and around the country in an effort to develop cooperation friendship and an exchange of views. Because Bill was so superior in dealing with them he continued to be used in that capacity though he was no longer a Border Patrolman.

My next station was McAllen. I moved there in July of 1945. The principal activity there was farm and ranch check. There was some patrolling of towns and an occasional traffic check for short periods and there was line and river watch. The illegal aliens who both we and the aliens themselves referred to as “wets” were here in just huge numbers you couldn’t imagine how many there must have been. At various times through the ensuing years the Sector was beefed up and they would push the population of the aliens down a little bit temporarily and then something would happen and it would bounce right back up and there would be more aliens than before. The valley economy was largely agriculture and for that matter is still pretty much that way. The farmers welcomed the plentiful and cheap labor and the aliens who did virtually all the work on the farms in packing sheds and other agricultural product related fields did some of the more menial tasks for as little as a dollar a day. Skilled workers or the ones who had a little more on the ball like tractor drivers and irrigators and some of the other skills got up to about $5 per day. A lot of those days were 12 hours long. Wages for farm workers were really low. So low in fact that the local labor force just didn’t have any choice but to board up their homes and follow the harvest north every year. About the only ones who could really afford to stay here year round were the crew bosses employed by many farmers and nearly all packing sheds and the harvest contractors who furnished crews of aliens to harvest the crops. These people had their trucks and every able-bodied person they could find to cram on those trucks would be part of their crew. They kept books for them (the farmers) and took their cut off the top and paid the aliens on a piece meal basis because that’s the way they were being paid by the farmers. Employers (again the farmers) liked the set-up because they were paying low wages and had no medical or unemployment insurance responsibilities and almost no responsibility to the alien other than to pay him whatever scale was agreed upon for the work actually produced. Yet they were able to sell their produce on markets away from this area where they were competing with prices based on different and a lot higher labor rates. When minimum was laws were talked of particularly for farm workers the idea wasn’t popular at all in the Valley. The farmers were always opposed and they’d have two or three fallback positions in their arguments each time. They claimed that having to pay minimum wage even though low would put them out of business; and that the marginal quality of labor just wouldn’t support that kind of expense. They always went through this same type of routine each time the government or whoever made the decision would talk of raising the rates. I think it started out around 15 cents and hour and gradually bumped up. First they didn’t want minimum wages applied to domestic help or farmers or others who hired less than five employees. Now I see that they have even had written into the current law that the Border Patrol no longer has the authority to enter on open fields to check farm labor to see whether or not they are in the country illegally. They always made some sort of effort to salvage as much as they could of their presumed right or continued ability to employ illegal aliens.

As more and more Valley people began benefiting from the illegal alien labor they resorted to ever increasing efforts to shield the aliens from apprehension. Wets were housed in every conceivable kind of shelter; ram shackled abandoned old houses barns sheds chicken coops abandoned automobile bodies caves dug into canal banks and tents. There were some farmers who built little one room houses for their laborers. The larger operators and some really not-so-large also provided a sort of commissary service. It was not unusual when we took aliens to collect their wages and belongings that they had little or no money coming. The wages would be tallied and also the provisions they had used would be tallied and the alien would get whatever the difference might be. Some times the difference wasn’t very much particularly if we’d had inclement weather and they hadn’t worked every day. Then too there was a mark-up on the items they were buying from the farmers. Prices were usually a little higher than regular retail prices in town. There were always a few employers though usually not farmers who would try to completely beat the aliens out of their wages.

Valley farmers had a system well not just the farmers everybody who had a wet whether it was a wet maid wet yardman or farm worker no matter what. Many employers kept these people in line by threatening to report them to La Patrulla or La Migra and back through the years the Mexicans particularly the less educated peon type person from deep in the interior was really frightened by the thought of the Border Patrol and being apprehended by them. One constable in Hidalgo County had a large crew of wets that he farmed out to work on various farms around the area. They were his employees they were his people and he had them in tents way back in deep brush concealed from view by some big canals. You just wouldn’t notice them driving by on the road. Someone reported them and when the P.I.’s raided the place and caught the wets the wets told us of having been forced to stay there and to work even though they had been abused and underpaid and wanted to go home wanted to quit wanted to leave and were not allowed to. This constable was charged and convicted of some sate statute relating slavery. I don’t remember just what it was.

There were several times when the Service mounted operations that really appeared to have everything going for them. We were just right on the brink of gaining control of the illegal alien problem and each time we started to make significant headway the Farm Bureau and some of the more powerful local figures prevailed upon their Congressmen or Senators to dry up the money. Our efforts were curtailed and the wets immediately returned in numbers even greater than before. The Valley newspapers editorialized against immigration enforcement and made big sensational events and wrote long diatribes relating to any incident or alleged impropriety by any of our officers. Attitudes of many in the Valley was illustrated by a couple of the restaurants. One of these restaurants had a sign up over the mirror behind the counter that said “Border Patrol not welcome” Another had a sign too but it said “coffee 10 cents for Border Patrolman  50 cents”. Some of the officers’ children were not treated well by the local citizenry. Some were belittled ridiculed and ostracized by other kids at school and even at Sunday school a few times. These actions reflected their parents’ adamant views against everything Border Patrol or Immigration enforcement.

Among the methods employed to discourage illegal entries was an air-lift to the interior of Mexico. The Service contracted with Flying Tigers to fly on transport planes loads of aliens to Leon Gto. And Guadalajara Jal. Every day. The planes were based at the Brownsville airport and all of the Stations in the Sector when they made their apprehensions each day would screen the males to determine if they were; first from the interior second if they had families either in Texas or in the border area. Male aliens from the interior whose families were in the interior were taken to the Hidalgo County jail and the Edinburg Border Patrol unit would manifest them and do whatever else had to be done in the way of documentation. The aliens were then hauled to the Brownsville airport and loaded aboard Flying Tigers planes. Seems to me they made a couple of trips a day to each destination. The effect of this or the result of this operation really was noticeable. The frequency with which you encountered wets really took a nose dive; and you just didn’t see anything like the numbers of wets we were accustomed to seeing after this operation had been in effect a few weeks. However, the operation was soon ended by termination of our funds.

Another time arrangements were made with Mexican Officials to remove the aliens from the border town by train. You must realize that the Mexican border town officials didn’t want these people any more than the Border Patrol did. The usual procedure was to send the aliens back to Mexico at the Ports of Entry. The numbers were so great that they simply overwhelmed the facilities of border towns like Matamores Reynosa and Rio Bravo. The local officials didn’t want them there and I’m sure that had some bearing on the Mexican government’s decision to allow their citizens to be transported inland from the border. That kind of removal benefited us too because it got the aliens back to the interior where some would stay and not r-enter illegally and it at least delayed those determined to come right back. Mexicans were moved literally by the hundreds and mostly in railway boxcars. The trains were loaded in Reynosa and every two or three cars there was a soldier. It was the soldier’s job to keep the people being returned to the interior from getting off the train and walking right back to the border. Since it didn’t take long for them to figure out their little mordida system and apply it to that the trains soon began reaching their destination all but empty. To try to encourage them to be a little more diligent some of our officers were assigned to ride the train and just observe. They didn’t have any authority but were to observe and as a result the number of passengers aboard the trains when they reached their destinations in the interior increased dramatically.

Years later after we had out detention camp at McAllen we had a fleet of small school buses built on Ford truck chassis. The procurement officer for the department at that time was a man named Anthony. He’d purchased these little buses which were dubbed “Anthony Ants” by Mr. Rawls. They kind of looked like a bunch of ants as all loaded with aliens they would file out of the camp in convoy en route to Zapata. The purpose of their going to Zapata was to VR aliens across the river at that point which was real isolated on both sides of the river. The little village on the Mexican side was a good many miles seems like it was bout 15 or maybe 20 miles north of the highway between Nuevo Laredo and Reynosa. There was no public transportation there so the aliens had to walk at least to that road and maybe farther to get away from that village. There was no incentive for them to return en masse at Zapata because there were no jobs on the American side in that area. It was tough traveling too to get back to the Valley from Zapata.

It seems like an inhumane way of dealing with these people but it was not nearly as bad as it would appear. Back at that time most of the aliens we were catching (farm workers) were from interior towns ranches and farms and they had walked all the way from their homes to the border and from the border to wherever they were going in the Valley. For that matter they would go on north always just walking. They walked long distances and really they did it pretty fast and without ever appearing to hurry. They traveled single file and walked along the edge of highways or roads along railroads trails or even across open country and they just kept moving. It was surprising how far they would go in a day. To illustrate their ability to travel I will relate a story of my dealings with a young wet at Edinburg. I caught him early one morning along with some others; in fact we had a pretty good group before to late in the morning. It was our practice at Edinburg to go out early each day as I mentioned and catch all the aliens we could or a least as many as we could handle then take them into the office which at that time was a room next to the JP court in the basement of the old courthouse. Once we got them in there we would process them and then haul them on to Mexico or take them wherever they had to be disposed of. Except on rare occasions when the court was in session we would use that little courtroom to hold all of the aliens and we would just type the required apprehension reports right there in the courtroom.

As soon as we had a couple of carloads ready some of us started taking loads to Hidalgo for VR while other officers continued processing the aliens we had apprehended. Trips were made as long as we still had aliens to return to Mexico. There was no lunch break; no nothing. Mr. Kelly did not want anybody to stop until all the aliens were disposed of. He quit at noon and went home to eat and did not come back unless it would be that night sometimes but he did not come back for the rest of the afternoon’s processing. This particular wet I mentioned was in the load I took to Hidalgo the first load that day. Then a little later I was taking another oa load and I saw that same wet on this side in Hidalgo so I stopped and picked him up again and brought him on back to Edinburg and put him in the bunch to be processed. Later he was taken to Mexico again. Well a third time that day I encountered him again on this side in Hidalgo and processed and VR’d him again. That evening about 6 or 7 I was going to a dairy that is on the edge of Edinburg to buy some milk and I saw this same wet walking up the road into town. I was in my personal car then and I pulled up to him and stopped. He started over to the car I know expecting to be offered a job or a ride and when he looked in and recognized me he just kind of hung his head looked dejected opened the door and got in. That time I did not take him back; I just put him in jail overnight and figured we both had seen enough of the other for one day. That case is not typical of the number of times you catch a particular alien in a day but it is typical of their determination to immediately return after being sent back to Mexico. They were determined to come over here and be here and simple VR to Mexico and the long walk back was absolutely no deterrent. Neither was Federal Court much of a deterrent.

We did not send anyone to court except smugglers or those who were aggravated repeater cases where they had probably been deported a time or two and been prosecuted previously. Just those with long and bad records. I have been in Federal Court at Brownsville where I saw Judge Hannay turn his chair half around away from the bench rear back and appear to go to sleep when he was told the next cases to be presented were Immigration cases. His obvious disinterest carried over into sentencing. He gave almost all defendants in our cases suspended sentences and really short ones at that. He did not act that way in all cases. When a marijuana case came up for example he sat upright leaned forward and paid close attention. Another Federal Judge James V. Allred a former Governor of Texas heard an alien transporting case one time and at the end of it he said “this is a two-bit case” and then he fined the defendant two-bits. Needless to say Valley employers had no fear of standing in judgment before a panel of their peers on charges of Immigration law violations.

The pressure that was applied just incessant pressure to not enforce the Immigration always laws all but unimaginable. One year Willard Kelly the Associate Commissioner for Enforcement at the Central Office in Washington was down here and he was holding news conferences and trying to develop a little support or a least acceptance from the local citizenry when I guess he kind of lost his cool. They of course objected to every effort to reason with them so at some point he indicated he might just let them have their way. He could just pull the Border Patrol back and form a line above the border like from Kingsville to Falfurrias and on across that way and the Valley could have its wets. That was not what they wanted. They just wanted to have all the wets they could use but they wanted us to control them. The story goes that when Mr. Kelly got back to Washington the work of his threat preceded him and he was criticized severely for what he had done and was told the nobody has the authority to give up any part of the United States. I think his job was whittled down a little bit as a result of that trip to south Texas at least that was the story that was floating around.

When I came into the Border Patrol everyone was being entered on duty on Temporary War-Service appointments. They did not have Civil Service Status. In fact everyone who entered from sometime early in 1942 until well after the war had the same king of appointment. I didn’t happen to take an examination. By the time I applied they were just giving oral and of course a physical but some of the men had taken and passed the written examination and were appointed in the regular manner yet they too had temporary appointments. The decision to change their appointments and the arbitrary date they set killed their permanent status. When we were told several years later – after the war that everyone would have to take the written examination and be appointed to permanent positions or be separated all of us were a little concerned. Those of us who were going to be affected certainly were. We had to take the written exam and then we had to go through the oral and physical exams all over again. The oral exam was cut and dried ahead of time. The Board members who were Chiefs from within the District all knew us and knew how they were going to handle each of us, and I think the Board members just played with us just enjoyed hassling us a little bit that day. Those of us in the Valley went to San Benito to the Post Office building and took our written test there. Then we waited several weeks to find out what scores we had made, then waited some more for the orals to be scheduled. After all the tests our names went on a register according to our written test grade. Appointments were made from that register over a period of two or three months maybe longer. Finally, the Service told us that if we were not reached on the register for appointment and we were down to within thirty days of being separated they would add ten points to our score. It that put a name within reach the man was converted to Permanent appointment. Most of us managed to be retained and get permanent status but there were several who just did not make it; they were dropped and some of them were real good men. That was an unnerving period for those who had that kind of appointment.

Another period in the history of the Service which I think was much worse much more unnerving because it affected everyone occurred back in the early 30’s I think. It was then the Border Patrol was under the Department of Labor. The old timers I encountered when I joined all talked about the Benzene Board. This board it seems was formed by Madam Perkins, they called her that but her first name was Frances. She was the Secretary of Labor under Franklin Roosevelt.

Donald F. Johnston

The oral history for Mr. Donald F. Johnston was conducted at his home at Colville Washington in December 1988. It represents a record of his activities and memories from his birth in 1913 to his retirement in 1972.

I was born on July 8 1913 in Lowell Massachusetts. My mother was born in Scotland and my father was born in Canada. They both became naturalized citizens of the United States in 1909. I grew up in a little town of North Tewksbury a town that celebrated its 250th anniversary in 1983. Our house was about 500 yards from field where Captain Trull organized a company of men to march to the Battle of Concord and Lexington. There’s a lot of history in that little area there but that’s not subject of this discussion. I attended Lowell High School from 1926 to 1931. I attended Washington State College now known as Washington State University at Pullman Washington from 1931 to 1935. I enrolled as a forestry major but I changed the major sometime the first or second year and became a mining/geology major.

When I got out of school in 1935 jobs were pretty scarce but I managed to find one working in a mine up in Elk City Idaho. Elk City is about 50 miles due east of Grangeville. It’s an interesting old town. At that time it had a population of about 200 people. It’s an old gold mining town. Gold was discovered there in 1851 and in 1935 there were still some very interesting characters left in that town; one of the most interesting characters was a fellow by the name of Dr. Boyd or Doc Boyd as he was known in the country. He’s the only man in the state of Idaho who legally practiced medicine without a license. He was an old mining engineer with some background in medicine. Where he got it I don’t know but he did have some background. The State gave him a certificate to practice a limited general medicine. Anything complicated he sent his patients to Grangeville to the hospital there. But he delivered babies set bones pulled teeth took care of colds corns and bunions medicine for horses cattle anything that came in he took care of it. He wasn’t too proud to be doing a little veterinary work along with his general medicine because a buck in those days went a long way. His office on the main street was an old style false-front building. The front room was his office the middle room was the state liquor store and the back room was his operating room. He said he planned it that way because anesthetics were in short supply and if he had someone with a broken bone to set he took them back to the operating room and they had to pass through the state liquor store so he grabbed a bottle of whiskey to help the patient out as he went. It was a pretty practical down-to-earth medicine practiced by him. I remember one time I was in his office and old miner came in with a sty on his eye. The doc lanced it and dressed it took care of it and as the old fellow was standing there at his desk paying his bill to go out old Doc says “That’s going to stop hurting when the pain goes out of it.” The old miner looked him right straight in the eye and said “Doc any damn fool knows that.”

Another interesting character in the town was an old fellow by the name of Dick Greckwell He was a mine boss and he had what’s known as a golden smile. He had false uppers and false lowers and they were solid gold teeth. Every tooth in his head was gold and when he opened his mouth to speak or smile it was pure gold. I was just a young kid just out of school and I had a great time in that town. I found out that if I got a pint of whiskey on Saturday night and sat down on one of those benches outside of the saloon there I could get to talk to some of those old timers. Of course they thought they were tamping a load in a young fellow So I’d listen to their stories and egg them on give them the bottle they’d pass it back to me and I’d stick my tongue in the mouth of it and not take a drink and give it back to them and pretty soon they got to feeling pretty good. They told me lots of wild tales of that town. It was a real education for a young fella.

The mine I got to work in was called the Black Lady mine. Actually it was more of a prospect hole than a mine. It was a miserable wet hole with ground water dripping from the ceiling and you came out at the end of a shift cold and wet. After being there for a little while working a few shifts I was moved over to the midnight shift and the miner on that shift that night was an old time miner who had not worked at mining in many years. This was his first time back in a long time. and the miner who was doing the mucking along with me was brand new and had never worked underground before in his life so he was a little apprehensive and nervous.

All in all it was a catastrophe waiting to happen and it did. The miner couldn’t handle his buzzie or air drill his steel kept sticking all the time so I spent most of my’ time helping him and breaking in the new mucker and trying do my own work. We finally got all the holes drilled and started to load them. Now there’s a system to the sequence in loading and lighting each hole. You light the cut holes then you light the breast holes then you light the back holes and then you light the lifters. The sequence puts the load right where the mucker on the steel plates can handle it with ease. Well when it came time to light the holes I knew that the new mucker would be nervous as the dickens with all that powder going off with dynamite in there being loaded and handled so I sent him out for a piece of steel or something that we didn’t need but I got him out of there so he wouldn’t be so nervous. So then the miner and I proceeded to light all the holes and light them in the proper sequence. He and I were bent over lighting the lifters; those are the last holes you light when all of a sudden one of the back holes blew prematurely. Well it knocked me down in the muck pile and I got to my knees and I hollered over to the miner and I asked him if he was OK and he said “Yeah I’m alright.” So I said “I’m getting the hell out of here.” So I started to crawl out using the ore car rails as my guide on my hands and knees as the lights were blown out. As I crawled out I counted the shots going off behind me. You could hear them “WHOOM” and a big gust of air would go blowing by you. As I counted them I found that three didn’t go. I knew that we didn’t have all the lifters lit. Finally I got out to where I could see the portal and the daylight outside, and I got to my feet and I started walking out of the hole. Just as I got to the portal here came this young mucker starting to come back in with the tool I sent him for. He took one look at me and he turned white as a sheet and that was the last shift he ever worked in that mine. He quit that day. I can’t say that I blame him.

The miner and his wife were living in a tent just off the portal and we were overdue on the shift and she knew it. She knew enough about where he should be and the time so she was up at the portal waiting for her husband to come out. She took one look at me and I was pretty much a mess. My scalp was torn and you know how the scalp bleeds it was running down the side of my face. My clothes were torn half off me and I was pretty much of a mess. She took one look at me and she started screaming “Where’s my husband? Why doesn’t someone get my husband? Why don’t you do something?” and it went on and on and on and finally I said “Lady I’ll go get your husband.” So I went back into the shop and got me another light and started in to look for him. Just about that time he came staggering out. I said “What the hell happened to you? You told me you were OK and I figured you were right behind me.” He says “Kid when that thing blew it knocked me down and it dumped some rocks on my feet.” He had on rubber hip boots. He says “I got up and I went to pull my foot loose and my foot came out of the boot. I stood there and I put that boot back on before I started out.” Now that’s what shock does to a man. There were 81 more sticks of dynamite in that place to go anytime and he stayed there to put his boot back on.

One of the pieces of rock that blew out of that bootleg hole hit me on the right hip and pinched the sciatic nerve. I was lucky I had a tobacco can in that right hip pocket and the rock hit that. If it hadn’t been for that it would have torn half the flesh off my hip. But that sciatic nerve gave me a lot trouble for well over a month. I couldn’t walk. The leg would hold me up but I had no control over where it was going to go when I shoved it to step out. It might go to the right and it might go straight ahead and it might go to the left. The only treatment I got for that sciatic nerve hip from old Doc Boyd was hot towels and horse liniment. That’s all he had. He sewed me up – he came out to the mine they called him and he came out to the mine and he sewed up my scalp while I was sitting there in the mess hall but he didn’t have any anesthetic and I didn’t even get the benefit of that bottle of whiskey either. Finally I healed enough that I could maneuver pretty good although I limped for two to three years after that before I got rid of the limp. But I got well enough to get around so I decided there were better ways of making a living than underground so I headed back east. I went back home and stayed awhile there. Finally I got a job in January 1936 with the Wilson Packing Company in Haverhill Massachusetts as a student salesman. Then in August of 1936 they transferred me to Burlington Vermont for -more training and more experience. I worked there for awhile and then I moved out in April of 1937 to Concord New Hampshire. I worked there for a very short while and then in May of 1937 my father died. I had had enough of the east and I wanted to get back west so I came back west and stayed in the fraternity house down in Pullman until July of 1937 I got a job as a rodman with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on the Grand Coulee Dam job. The Grand Coulee Dam was being built at that time.

I got the job as rodman down in Ephrata Washington at $1320 a year. That was good money in those years back in 1937. We worked at what is called topographic mapping of the area that was going to be irrigated by the water from the Grand Coulee Dam. In July 1938 I was transferred up to Coulee Dam right on the dam itself as a chainman. As a chainman we set points for the forms. When the carpenters put the forms up for the cement to be poured they had to be controlled by point setting and that was what the survey crew I was on did set the points.

Younger people have probably never heard of it but at the time the dam was built there were all kinds of rumors about people being buried in the dam falling into the cement and dying in there and being buried in that dam. I can just about assure you that that never happened. It’s practically impossible for a person to fall into that cement and be buried in it.

The dam was built in sections and blocks. Each section rose in a 50x50x5 foot deep block in other words 50 feet square and five feet deep. When that block was being poured with cement the hammerheads would come over with their buckets and drop them down and dump the cement into the block. There were 9 to 10 men working in that block at all times. The vibrator men the bell boy all those workers were spreading that cement around. It was poured in 11 yard buckets only 11 yards each time that bucket came down one at a time. It was impossible to tell if one of that crew had fallen in there or someone else had fallen in there. There was always somebody working in there. It was impossible; they were rumors that came out of that dam that should be buried once and for all.

The building of that dam was an amazing feat. I’m very glad that I got to work on it because I saw things happen there that are almost impossible to believe. So much of it was unknown when they built it. That dam was so big. Many of the engineering practices that they formulated had never been tried and it was just an amazing thing to watch it go up. I was there when the last piece of bedrock was covered up on the dam. When the clean-up men came in to clean up the bedrock I got down in there and I found some cracks in the bedrock. I got my jack knife out and scraped out a whole bunch of that gravel that was down in those rocks and took it home and panned it out. I found gold in it and some of that gold is in my wife’s wedding ring right now.

One item that always amazed me about that dam and something I don’t think many people know about is how many tons of cold cream went into that dam. You see when the workmen went onto the dam they had to go on catwalks that went across the J block section. At the entrance to each one of those bridges or catwalks that went across there was a bucket of cold cream sitting there with an open lid on it. Every man that went on the dam scooped up a handful of that cold cream and smeared it all over his hands and any exposed skin because cold cream was an excellent preventative for cement burn. But that’s a little item that never showed up in any of statistics on the building of the Grand Coulee dam.

As the Coulee dam went up it was a boom town area. There were people from all over the United States Canada. Every cross section of the United States was there. Every occupation, gamblers engineers doctors you name it, was there. The real action the boom town activity of Coulee Dam was back in the coulees. There were several coulees that lead into the Columbia River gorge there in that area. Each one had its own little settlement. There was one called “The Hidden City” and it was where all the shady activity of the area took place. There were I don’t know how many maybe twenty or thirty buildings there. They were either cat houses or gambling dens and that’s where all the activity took place – lots of fights lots of brawls but nobody was ever killed that I ever heard of. Many people died the dam during the building of the dam but not in fights in “The Hidden City”. In “The Hidden City” I remember there was one gambling house where they had a pan guinea game and that pan guinea game ran uninterrupted for four straight years. It never stopped. They changed dealers every so many hours. There were three shifts working on the dam men coming on would play a little before going on the job coming off they would play before they went home.

Then in March 1939 I was transferred to Colville Washington on a survey crew. Our job was relocating all the railroads bridges highways towns cemeteries anything that had to be moved up out of the backwater of the Coulee Darn. As the Columbia backed up it flooded out all that area and everything had to be moved up. Our job was to survey what was there and relocate it on higher ground. We built some bridges one that goes across Kettle Falls on the Columbia the railroad bridge and the highway bridge we surveyed those and I worked on them. That was an interesting part of it.

Another young fellow and I were the only ones who could work up on the steel out of our survey crew. There were lots of steel workers around there and they were used to it but only two of us that height didn’t bother. So every time they had to check anything at a high elevation we got the job of going up on the top. I was pretty young then pretty foolish pretty daredevil and I have actually walked across the Columbia River on the steel of that bridge top girders and I think they were about 16” wide. Not too long ago when driving by there I looked up and I thought what a damned fool I was how lucky I was to come out of it.

Of course this area up in here along the Columbia River was an old gold mining area too. It was worked pretty heavily in early days by the Chinese etc. I couldn’t get the gold mining out of my system so I got out on the river on my days off and I panned gold all the way from Hunters Washington and north to the Canadian line. I found gold. As a matter of fact my wife’s wedding ring has gold that I panned on the Columbia and her ring contains gold that I panned from Washington Montana Idaho Alaska and Arizona.

Now all of this hasn’t been relevant to my career in the Border Patrol but it is a lead up to getting into the Border Patrol. I never had heard of the Border Patrol didn’t even know it existed. But in our surveying work raising all these things out of the back water of the Coulee Dam and out of the Columbia River valley the gorge we had to relocate a railroad. The railroad came up at water grade all the way up to within about ten or twelve miles of the Canadian border and then it came up out of the river and up onto a bench. So we had to relocate everything below that bench all the way back to what is now called Kettle Falls but in those days it was Meyers Falls. So we started the railroad out from Meyers Falls and relocated it on a bench and through the hills and cut through rocks all the way up and tied it in up there close to the Canadian border.

It was the relocation of that particular piece of railroad that got me into the Border Patrol. One day we were working up right close to the Canadian border and there was a crew of about five or six men and we were walking up and down that railroad along the tracks on the ties and the bed walking back and forth doing our work. We finished our work and went on home. The next day we were doing some other work in another area and while we were working a car drove up a man stepped out of the car in a green uniform with a gun on his hip and a badge on his chest and he wanted to know if we had been working up in that area and we said that we were up there yesterday. He introduced himself and he was the Senior Patrol Inspector at Marcus and his name was Oner Evans. He said “I thought it might be you people. I have a sand trap up on the railroad.” We asked what a sand trap was. He explained to us that he had sanded the ties of the railroad bed so that anyone coming down he could cut sign. He checked it every day. And that was my first introduction to the Border Patrol. He interested me so on one of my days off I went to talk to him and got to know him pretty well and he suggested that I take the Border Patrol exam. I asked him to tell me about the Border Patrol what is it what do they do. He explained the whole thing to me.

It so happened that at that time the Coulee Dam was set in two contracts. The low dam went up to a certain elevation and that was one contract. The high dam was the next contract. They were separate from each other. At the time that I met this Oner Evans the low dam contract was just about running out and nobody knew if President Roosevelt was going to get enough money to build the high dam. So some of us were looking for jobs. I had a little engineering training but I wasn’t a civil engineer and I knew I wouldn’t get very far as a civil engineer if I kept on so I was looking for another job. When he said they were hiring the Border Patrol was giving the exam I got interested. So I went down to Spokane and took the written exam passed it with a pretty good grade 86 I think it was. Then I got a notice to report down -to Walla Walla for the physical exam and the oral exam. I went down there and there were fourteen of us who took that exam and two of us made it. Two of us got jobs out of it. The other one who got a job was Chuck Feary who ended up as Deputy Chief I think down at Laredo or McAllen.

I came close to not passing that exam because I was pretty nervous while it was all going on. The physical was given by an old army doctor I think and he took my blood pressure and it was way up high. He kind of hemmed and hawed and finally he asked me how badly I wanted this job. I told the doctor I sure as hell wanted this job. He told me to go sit on that bench and he left the cuff and all the apparatus on my arm and I sat over there for awhile. He went on doing some paper work and all of a sudden he got up and walked over and pumped the thing up and read the pressure and he said it was okay and I passed. So that’s how close I came to not making the physical.

Then on the oral exam I was doing fine I thought and then they asked me a question about a smuggler that was bringing some Chinese down out of Canada and there were two people: a man and his wife. The question revolved around this woman and the man the smuggler. He claimed that this woman was his wife. So they asked me what I would do and I said that I would separate them put one in one room and the other in another room and start questioning them. Then they asked me what questions I would ask. At that point I got a mental block. I couldn’t think of any questions to ask to break that case. I hemmed and hawed and I finally told them I just had a mental block I can’t think I know what I want to say but I can’t think of the questions I want to ask. So they told me to go out. So little while later they called me back in and as I walked in’ I told them if it was all right I could answer the question. I told them I had lost my mental block. They asked me if I had been talking with anyone and I said no I just got over my nervousness and my mental block. They asked me a couple of questions and that’s how close I came to not making the orals.

About a month after the examination I got a letter telling me to report to Chula Vista California for duty as a probationer. I got in my car and a two-wheeled trailer and I headed off for Chula Vista. I reported in to Headquarters on a Monday morning and the Assistant Chief Clem Hensler wanted me to take the oath of office right there that day. I begged off and told him I would rather not I would rather take it tomorrow. Clem Hensler got a little bit upset about that because here I was a probationer telling the Assistant Chief when I would take the oath of office and when I wouldn’t take the oath of office. But I explained to him that when I left the Bureau of Reclamation I already had civil service status and I was told that if I left on a Friday and checked in on a Monday that I would have a break in my service and that I couldn’t carry over all of the benefits of my civil service into the new job. So I explained to him that I would rather do it on Tuesday and that would give me Monday still with the Bureau of Reclamation. Clem saw the point and agreed with me. I took the oath of office on Tuesday February 13 1941 in Chula Vista California. The day that I took the oath of office I had to sign some papers and Clem Hensler had a bottle of ink and a dip pen that he used for writing. When I reached for a paper I hit that dip pen and I tipped the bottle of ink over right on the Assistant Chief’s desk. That was a real good start! Between the two incidents I got a real good start in the Border Patrol.

My starting salary with the Border Patrol was $2000 a year. Today in 1989, that’s not a good salary but it was a jump from $1700, I quit the Bureau of Reclamation at $1700 and went to $2000 and a $300 a year jump in those days was a big jump.

The Chief Patrol Inspector was Lou Curtis. After I left the Sector and came up north Lou Curtis got into some kind of trouble I don’t know what it was but he quit the service. It was an oddity that when I was transferred to Sacramento, we had an office in Sacramento up in the Federal Building and there were three of us standing at the elevator one day waiting to go up and a young lady came up she saw us in uniform and she said that her dad used to be in our outfit. I asked who he was and she said he was Lou Curtis. I said he was the first Chief Patrol Inspector I ever had in the Border Patrol. It was kind of an odd coincidence.

The work at Chula Vista was mainly line watch traffic check farm and ranch check and horse patrol. They had two horses there and I was lucky enough to get on the horse patrol for a while and worked with Iler Jensen and Len Gilman Larry Elsworth and a P1 by the name of Mettie. I think Mettoe went into the Service during& World War II and didn’t come back into the patrol but he ended up a General. There were several others but I can’t remember their names now. But I do remember they had a horse there by the name of Sing Lee and he was a pleasure to ride he had a jog that made you think you were in a rocking chair. All the time that horse would be jogging he would be singing to himself. I think that is where he got the name of Sing Lee he had a funny little song that he would just sing to himself when he would jog. That horse is now buried under the parking lot back of the Arizona Bank at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Sixteenth in Yuma Arizona. That used to be the headquarters office of the Yuma patrol. They had the corral out back and poor old Sing Lee he is buried under all that pavement of the parking lot.

Then in June they sent me down to the training school in El Paso. I got through that all right and on the way back I had a little interruption in the route I was supposed to take home but I ended up going down through Tombstone and got to meet Jeff Milton down there the only time I ever saw the man. At the end of school I got back to Chula Vista and then I made my first apprehension. On the night shift I apprehended the first alien I ever caught and I was working with Ben Taylor. The Senior, his name was D’spain, paired up everybody on the night shift and it ended up that Ben and I both probationers ended up in the same vehicle. Well the Senior asked if we young punks could keep our noses clean and that sort of irritated me a little bit so we went out and twenty minutes later we were back with the first wet we had ever caught. The Senior was still at headquarters and I have to admit I got a lot of pleasure out of that apprehension — I’ve never forgotten it. Also one of the pleasures was that we fingerprinted him – in those days you did your own fingerprinting and you had learned fingerprint classification down at the school and you could classify the prints and in those days they had a Deportation book and every alien who had been deported up until that time they had a record on them in that book of the fingerprint classification. So we got double pleasure out of it. We fingerprinted the man classified the prints and found him in the Deportation Book so we had a good deportation case.

Of course like all young probationers we were always listening to the tales of the old timers and the stories of the things they had done around there and I remember one they were telling about. Down at the Port of Entry every so often a priest would come through a young priest on a bicycle. He would ride through and they never checked him very carefully and one day I don’t know why one of the Inspectors decided he would check him. He always carried a bible in his bag– when he was pedaling up so they checked him and checked the bible and they found out the bible was hollowed out and he was packing drugs and he wasn’t a priest at all. He was just dressing up as a priest.

Some of the P1’s probationers~ stationed there in Chula Vista at the time were Chuck Feary, Len Gilman, a fellow by the name of Sorenson, Ben Taylor, this fellow Mettie, another man by the name of Grant Bitsy Grant they called him; and Spainour Docksteder Tex Curtis and McKay. And then there was John O’shea. He was our first Spanish instructor1 and I think if I remember rightly ended up as DD in Hawaii. Tex Curtis one of the Seniors there at Chula Vista had an interesting apprehension one time. One night he was checking traffic up on the Quimada Grade and this car with a young driver came down to the traffic check and in questioning him Tex noticed he was very very nervous. Tex figured something was wrong he kept questioning him and he couldn’t get any story out of him couldn’t make any headway with him but he knew something was wrong because the fellow was so nervous. So he finally let him go and he went on down the road and Tex in his frustration and anger decided he was going to shake down the next vehicle that came around the bend. Here pulled up a big truck a truck loaded with furniture so Tex climbed up on the top of that truck and started unloading the furniture pitching it left and right working his way down to the bottom and when he got to the bottom here was a big box. In the box were three smuggled Chinese. Now that’s how some of the best smuggling cases are made just pure luck and orneriness.

An interesting story that the old timers told when I came in there relating to the Chinese – it seems that some time in the 30’sMexico changed their laws governing property ownership in Mexico. They confiscated all the property of non-citizens in Mexico. This was real hard on those Chinese who had settled in Mexico and they were losing all of their property and they didn’t know just what they were going to do but the word got around that if they were picked up in the United States they would be sent back to their homeland and be deported to China so they packed up their suitcases and started to invade the United States they were just coming across they would wander across the line and just sit down and wait to be picked up. They said they used to run a vehicle down the line every morning and just pick them up sitting there just across the fence just waiting to be picked up. Then they tell the story of one fellow that somehow was missed he came in and I guess maybe he didn’t sit down he just kept coming and nobody saw him1 and he got all the way into San Diego. When he got to San Diego he wandered around there and he found I think it was the post office and he sat up on the steps and the poor son of a gun sat there for about a day before anyone checked him out and found out he was an illegal Chinese and shipped him back to China.

Then there was the story of PI McKay I guess his name was. He was a nice gentleman very quiet and sort of shy and the fellows told the story that he was checking traffic. Now in those days you didn’t have all the set up that you have now for traffic check. You just stood out in the middle of the road on the dividing line one man on each side and one man in the middle and you just checked the cars as they came down the line. Well in those days those early days some of those vehicles  the doors opened differently than they do now the front doors instead of opening from the back toward the front they opened from the front toward the back and as a consequence the handles on the door were pointed forward and they were kind of a hook so there was a slight protuberance with a hook on it coming out from the door. Well McKay was standing in the middle of the road one afternoon checking traffic and two little old ladies come down the road from the opposite direction and as they got up to the point where McKay was checking traffic he could see the nervous woman was getting too close to him and he was checking a car so he couldn’t get out of there so what he did was he sucked his stomach up against the car he was checking and the two little ladies in the car went by and this door handle hooked McKay in the britches and tore the seat out of his uniform. Well the two little ladies stopped got down the road a little-ways and stopped and they came running back to see if they had hurt the officer. Well here in the middle of the road was McKay covering up the tear in his britches dancing around and the two little old ladies trying to get around to see what damage they had done to him and they said that was quite a sight to see that going on for quite a while before he finally convinced the ladies that he wasn’t hurt.

When I came in 1941 there was no uniform allowance no rough duty uniform we did all our work in dress uniform traffic check ranch check horse patrol all of it was all done in full dress uniform but the Chiefs in the different Sectors were allowed a certain lee-way in designing some types of uniform


George I. Hendricks & Paul Marbry

Border Patrol Agents George I. Hendricks and Paul Marbry were jointly interviewed on April 8 1987 at the National Border patrol Museum by Ms. Terrie Cornell. Mr. Marbry was a member of the 17th Border Patrol Session and Mr. Hendricks was a member of the 16th Session both at Camp Chigas El Paso Texas.

TC – Would you state your name please?

GH – George W. Hendricks.

TC – And yours?

PM – Marbry: Paul Marbry.

TC – Mr. Hendricks when did you enter the Border Patrol?

GH – In December of 1941 from Roswell New Mexico.

TC – Why?

GH – I was paid $25 more than where I was working.

TC – Where were you working before?

GH – For the Southwestern Public Service Company.

TC – A utility service?

GH – Yes.

TC – In Roswell?

GH – Yes in the electrical department.

TC – You heard about the Border Patrol hiring?

GH – I think a Border Patrolman there I can’t remember his name
— asked me why I didn’t put an application in as they were accepting Border Patrolmen. I took the examination and was called not too long after that for an interview. And not too long after that I was notified to report in El Paso.

TC – Where did you take your interview?

GH – In Albuquerque. The examination and physical and interview was given in Albuquerque New Mexico.

TC – When did you go to the Academy?

GH – I cannot tell you. I really don’t know because I was sent on detail as soon as I came in and bought a uniform and it was several months before I got to go to school.

TC – You bought the uniform right away?

GH – Yes the first week I was there because I thought it was pretty! (Actually I had some extra money from my former job.)

TC – (To Mrs. Hendricks) Tell the story that you told me – that they sent him on detail right away because he had the uniform.

Jean Hendricks: That’s what he always said he was one of the first ones that had a full-dress uniform and he got sent on these details because he did have it.

TC – Where was your first detail?

GH – I believe it was to California to pick up a bunch of aliens to transport to a detention camp in Texas all Japanese.

TC – This was after Pearl Harbor?

GH – Yes.

TC – Where were you on Pearl Harbor day?

GH – On the river on the bridge working the river in El Paso. There were barrels across the river there for fire guides and everybody was so scared that we could see Japs running back and forth between those barrels. We thought we could, that was our imagination. It was real scary.

TC – So immediately you were sent to California?

GH – It was oh I don’t know two or three weeks something like that. They came out and asked who had a full-dress uniform and I had one so that is why I was sent on a detail to pick up aliens. At that time they were beginning to intern Japanese.

TC – Did you take them to Crystal City Texas?

GH – I believe that was the name of it.

PM – Yes it was Crystal City. Then we made another trip back later on and picked up everybody at Crystal City closed the camp and took them to New York and put them on the Gripsholm.

TC – Were they all Japanese at Crystal City?

GH – Yes.

PM – They were all Japanese.

GH – They picked these people up. The Japanese I think had sent the United States a list of the people they wanted so we had a lot of doctors lawyers engineers scientists that Japan wanted back. I don’t remember exactly - that was a long time ago - when we got to New York City I think we had 1500 all told in the Pennsylvania Hotel and we were there for several days processing them separating what they were supposed to take with them and what they couldn’t take with them. And then we were sent back to El Paso.

TC – So these educated professional Japanese that they wanted right away they were the first ones traded for our prisoners?

GH – That’s right.

TC – They were all traded?

GH – Yes they were exchanged.

PM – He went around over the country hunting them.

GH – Oh yes. One of the first places was Clovis New Mexico. There were, I don’t remember how many, about twenty-five or thirty something like that - that were afraid to get out of their homes. we were sent over to pick them up and bring them to a little ranch close to Fort Stanton New Mexico. That’s where they were not exactly interned but they were put up there for their own protection. They landscaped and raised vegetables and garden flowers and made a beautiful spot out of it.

PM – Did you tell them how cold it was up there?

GH – It was pretty cold. They would bring in beautiful loads of vegetables and the people I think the first load they bought but they found they were raised by Japanese and then they wouldn’t buy them then. That was all of it.

PM – But it was also in that same encampment there up in the mountains from Fort Stanton. We had several from California.

TC – Several Japanese?

PM – Yes.

GH – In which camp?

PM – The old CC Camp.

GH – That was all Germans wasn’t it?

PM – No no there were two camps George.

GH – O.K.

PM – The German camp and then we had the Jap camp about 15 miles up in the mountains. It had been the girls CC Camp.

GH – That’s the one where we placed the Japanese from Clovis.

TC – That’s where they grew the vegetables?

PM – Yes. I was up there in September. It got so cold that I had to sleep under six blankets. It was very high altitude.

GH – I was never at that camp except to help deliver the Japanese there. I was never stationed there.

PM – I was up there two weeks by myself.

JH –Was the other camp where the German’s got trichinosis?

GH – That’s right. As I remember it they wanted blood sausage. Pork and barrels of blood clots were purchased from Peyton Packing Company in El Paso. The German~ mixed it. It wasn’t well cooked. I tasted some and thought it tasted like it had been roasted in a hot blanket. All of them came down with trichinosis. Our government brought in doctors from all over the country to treat them. There were about 500 Germans there. It got to the point where we just counted heads. We had pictures and names but we couldn’t even identify them from their picture.

TC – They were so sick?

PM – That’s right. They were so sick. They were so swollen and everything else. They were a very sick bunch. As I recall only one died. I was in the hospital room – the hospital was so crowded – I was in the room with two of them. One had the worm that causes trichinosis (or whatever it is) right on his top lip and every once in a while you could see it jerk.

We had a cook who was a sorry dish washer. You could pick up one of the coffee mugs and it was so slimy that if you didn’t grip it real hard it could slip out of your hand. I got dysentery and it took them three days to get me out of there.

TC – Sounds like you were lucky to only get dysentery.

PM – They treated me for 24 hours with a saline solution in the arm just to get some liquid back in me.

TC – This was before antibiotics too.

PM – Yes.

Those two poor guys! We would sit and talk about Germany you know. They would tell me how fine it was. One of them had been trained as a maitre d’. This is how I found out about how involved the training is for a maitre d’. I guess it should be for the money they make. He was from Austria and had trained in two or three foreign countries.

Then they told me they had a machine gun at that time that would shoot more than 600 rounds a minute. I think they said it was air cooled and about like shooting a water hose. I had never heard of anything like it. All we ever had was the old Browning and it was water cooled.

TC – How long were you there at Fort Stanton?

PM – Let’s see I think I had to pull extra time because I also went to the Jap camp. They had a man up there I don’t know where he was from or anything but he couldn’t get along with the young woman who was more-or-less in charge. She had a habit of telling you what you could and what you couldn’t do. Since he couldn’t get along with her they shipped him down here and shipped me up there.

* (Explanation: The Germans were aliens-in-distress who had been picked up after scuttling a luxury liner somewhere off the coast of Mexico or South America. The ship had been scuttled to prevent the US from seizing it. We brought them from California to New Mexico. Most spoke several languages were highly skilled workers musicians or entertainers.)

TC – Mr. Marbry when did you go into the Border Patrol?

PM – March of 1942

TC – From where?

PM – Southern Illinois.

TC – How did you find out about the Border Patrol?

PM – In the fall of 1941 I was the assistant farm boss at the Illinois State Penal Farm. One of the guards there had heard about it and we got to talking. We were standing in front of headquarters and he told me that he had gotten an application and was going to try to join the Border Patrol. Usually we worked 7 days a week so he asked me why I didn’t try so I went to Vandalia and got an application.

The reason he talked me into taking the exam was that I had a car and he didn’t. We had to take the examination in Centralia so I took him with me. In those days I think the exam had 120 questions. Wasn’t that it George?

GH – There were a bunch of them

PM – I’m sure it was 120 questions on the examination, and you had a time limit to answer them. The instructor who was giving the examination said that whatever we did we should not waste time. He told us to skip a question we couldn’t answer try to finish them all then go back to ones we had skipped. Anyway, I passed the examination and the guy I took with me flunked. In about January I received a notice to go to East St. Louis to take a physical. There were about 8 of us who took it and only 2 passed. Why they didn’t pass it I don’t know. Then I was told to report to El Paso on March second. That’s how I got out here.

GH – Well I took the exam in 1939 when I was going to Texas A&M. There must have been 600 taking exams. I had my interview in Albuquerque and about eleven of us were accepted.

TC – Mr. Marbry did you go to the Academy here?

PM – I went to the Academy in May of 1942. I worked the line part of the time and part of the time I was on one or two day details up or down the valley. Then in November of 1942 they transferred me to Lordsburg.

GH – We went on one or two details together after you were in Lordsburg.

PM – Yes.

LH – When did you come to Lordsburg George?

GH: 1943.

LH – I know that we had been there awhile.

TC – You were all married when you came into the Border Patrol?

GH – No.

LM – Yes, we had a little boy who the inmates were raising.

TC – Not a very good influence?

LM: Yes, they were. They all loved him because he was the only little boy around.

TC – How long were you in Lordsburg?

PM – Two and a half years.

TC – But you were sent on detail the whole time?

PM – It seemed like it. We were in and out of there quite a bit. George at that time wasn’t married. In those days when you went on a detail you furnished your own money. Eventually your per diem caught up with you.

TC – Tough.

PM – Wicked. If you were careful it covered your expenses.

TC – Real careful.

PM – You didn’t get anything extra. You had to eat out you had your laundry your room rent and everything else. Now as I understand it they go down and draw money to take with them. Then if they run short of money they can draw more. Sometimes I had to go to the bank and borrow the money you know.

JH –George didn’t you say that you spent 19 days on a train one time?

GH – Yes, I think from the time I left El Paso until I returned I had been across the US twice. The only thing we had to take a bath in was a wash basin in one of the pullman cars.

GH – We also spent ten days on the train when we left Carrizozo. We went all over the southeastern part of the US picking up Japanese citizens to deport. There were eleven sections of this detail, eleven trains. The other trip was to pick up and deport German citizens.

TC – Eleven trains or eleven cars?

PM – Eleven trains. We had ten or eleven cars on the section we were guarding–all Germans.

TC – You were picking them up around the country?

GH – It was Sharp Park just above San Francisco where we hooked up the first train. That’s where we caught the train first then we came back across and wound up at Crystal City Texas.

PM – I never was on so many railroads. After all those railroads down in South Texas I knew where they got the expression “the streak of rust.” On those trains you were doing about ten miles an hour because of the tracks. We ran all over that flat country and after about ten hours it would drive you nuts.

* GH – I remember that we stopped at one station, everybody was hungry. There was a guy selling candy Clark bars a good piece of candy. I asked him to let me have a box and
ended up with a case or 12 boxes holding 24 bars of candy each. To get my money back I had to sell candy-even some of the prisoners bought boxes.

* (Explanation: Food staples were rationed other items hard to find and some just non-existent. Good candy was in the almost impossible to find category.)

JH –They were both in the Santa Fe riot too.

GH – I was stationed in Columbus NM and went to Santa Fe
from there.

TC – You were in Lordsburg?

PM – Yes they told me to report to Santa Fe as soon as possible.

GH – Well my partner and I were in Columbus when the order came. We just loaded up and left immediately.

TC – Who was your partner?

GH – Moore Clayton Moore. When we got there, there were something like 1500 Japanese in one camp. They had put the rising sun flag in the middle of the camp. Most had shaved their heads and put on white shirts with a rising sun painted on the front. They had notified the guards that they were going to take over the camp.

Well I can’t remember how many of us got there not too many. The brass took our guns away from us and gave us billy clubs or saps then they told us to go in and push the Japanese back where they belonged and take down the flag. So the gates were opened and we waded in which turned out to be a little bit rough. Finally we got the flag and backed them all up.

TC – How many of you do you suppose there were there?

GH – We were outnumbered about fifteen to one or something like that. About 300 Japanese were out in the yard. I know that Brackeen was the man next to me when we went through the gate. The Japs taunted us saying that they were going to show us what karate and ju-jitsu was like. Brackeen said “Well I don’t know much about that but when I come through this gate you are going to find out about West Texas bulldogging.” The next thing I saw was this little Jap up in the air. From then on we didn’t have many threats. Anyway we had had some training in karate.

TC – You had had training?

PM – Oh yes when we went through school. We had self-defense not a lot but enough to take care of ourselves.

TC – Were these Japanese real nationalistic and militant?

PM – Oh yes very much so. It’s not like you read in the paper now that they weren’t any of that. The fact is I never saw anything else did you?

GH – Not many.

PM – It was quite a hassle but there were some funny things about it. Do you remember Harry Brackeen? Not Harry that was his cousin the pitcher for St. Louis. Brackeen was a good-sized boy–larger than George. When these Japs would start chattering the camp commander would tell us to go in and get them. Two or three of us would go in and bring them out. It’s the only way we could control them. This one guy a ring leader started chattering. Brackeen and somebody went in after him. We had a dump truck we were putting them in. Brackeen reached down and picked up that guy after he hit him with a billy club. He picked him up threw him in the truck and said “Stay there you son-of-a-bitch.”

GH – I think when it was over there were 15 of them taken to the hospital. Not any of them hurt real bad.

PM – Did you go down there in the camp with us that evening to pick up the leader?

GH – No I don’t think so Paul.

PM: Let’s see I drove the car. There was J. Eldon Taylor and the camp commander and I don’t know who the other guy was. Anyway they were in barracks and I think there were about six barracks buildings.

GH – Yes

PM – They were clear down at the end. We went in the side gate and we were all carrying machine guns. This was the only time I was ever told that if they start anything to shoot—— doesn’t make any difference where——shoot. Well we had to because we were in the back end of the camp. Let’s see there was one guy in one window in the middle. I got out of the car and went to the back double doors. The camp commander and Taylor walked around to the front double doors. The camp commander told him “Come on out you are leaving here or we are taking you out.” He started crying. Someone said “Do you want us to take him.” The Jap answered “No if you do you will kill every one of us.” We had the doors open and I was standing there with a riot gun. Someone shoved this guy through the window so we just picked the old boy up and put him in the car and took him out. Then they shipped him out and that ended all the trouble.

TC – He was the ring leader?

PM – Yes

TC – An old Japanese guy?

PM – No he was young. There were not too many old ones.

GH – They were between 20 and 30 on the average. Not old or not really young either.

PM – The thing that teed me off most was that after that all happened we had to do our own cooking. That hurt more than going in after that guy.

GH – When that camp was first put in I was sent up there on detail to wire the kitchen and laundry. The laundry equipment was old and I had to rebuild it first.

TC – As an electrician?

JH –You went to several different ones. Wasn’t there one in
Montana too.

GH – Yes

TC – You wired which camp?

GH – Well Lincoln Nebraska

TC – Let’s go on to that one in a minute. Did you wire
Fort Stanton or the garden camp?

GH – No I wired the one at Santa Fe. It was originally
full of Japanese and Italians.

PM – I didn’t know that.

GH – Yes they couldn’t get along and had to be separated.

TC – What happened to the Italians?

GH – They put them in another camp. I think they took them to Lordsburg.

PM – They had Italians in Lordsburg at that army camp. That’s the only ones I knew about.

GH – In Lordsburg yes.

PM – That’s all I knew about. I was in and out of there so much I really didn’t know. I do know this I had been back from California for three days from a three month’s detail and wound up in Santa Fe.

TC – And then you wired a camp in Nebraska.

GH – Well I went up to help on that camp.

TC – Which camp was that?

GH – Fort Lincoln Nebraska

PM – You left as soon as it was completed?

GH – Oh yes I left before it was completed but it was already in operation when I was sent up there. I helped to do some wiring then I came back to El Paso.

JH –Back during those days I guess they had Patrolmen doing everything. George even spent what three months working on cars and jeeps in the garage.

TC – Here?

GH – In El Paso yes. I also got assigned to load ammunition. Tommy Box and Bob Sparks found out that I had shot a lot and had loaded ammunition. I ended up loading ammunition for every­body to practice with.

Charlie Vail and I also built the first pistol range out on the Carlsbad highway. Neither of us had ever used heavy equipment nor done much rock work. We were having to learn as we went. Chief McBee came out to check on us and said that between the two of us we had done about a dollar fifty worth of work. (Wages at that time were about ~ dollar a day.)

I spent a lot of time on these kinds of details.

PM – Well didn’t you make the trip when we took Fritz Kuhn
to New York?

GH – Yes I did. We put him on the Gripsholm in New York City. Fritz had a guy who carried his suitcases. When you got off the train and walked to the top of the Jersey pier it was thirty-three steps a long way up. This guy had been loaded down with Fritz’ belongings so before we started up the stairs we took the suitcases away from him and made Fritz carry them up the steps.

When we got to the top he was handcuffed to me and someone else. I don’t remember who it was on the other side. It was Pat Callahan who came over and handcuffed him to us. Fritz’ didn’t want to appear to be a prisoner so this patrolman and I walked far enough apart to stretch out his arms so that it could be seen he was handcuffed when he walked up the gang plank to go on board the boat.

You know Keith McDonald almost had to kill him in Fort Stanton.

PM – Well yes that was when we were gathering him up to take him out.

JH –Fritz Kuhn was a German Bund leader. The Bund was considered subversive during the war.

PM – He was raising hell one night in the barracks.

TC – In Fort Stanton?

PM – Yes. Keith and J. Eldon Taylor were there. Keith had a tommy gun. He raked out the window glass and started to let him have it. J. Eldon grabbed the gun and pulled it up. Finally they kicked the door down to get him out. He didn’t want to come out and be put on a train to be sent back to Germany.

GH – We had several who didn’t want to go back to Germany. We had several prisoners who were wanted there for murder kidnapping and everything else.

TC – Their fate would be a lot worse over there?

PM – Right they knew that they wouldn’t have a chance. We had one guy on the train who acted more or less insane. The story was that he had been brought here from South America and if he wasn’t returned Hitler wouldn’t take the rest. Whatever he had done we never knew but he was Hitler’s personal choice to get back.

TC – Poor man.

GH – One of the oddest things happened to me; A German named Rickeplus was in that camp. How he got out and got to stay in the US I never could find out but he was let stay here for some reason. Anyway he came through Lordsburg looking for me. When he found me he asked to borrow $20 to get to California. I told him that I didn’t just have $20 to give him so he asked if I would loan it to him on his watch. I said sure and kept his watch. About a month later he sent me $20 and I mailed him his watch.

PM – He made it to California.

GH – Yes. He was one of the prisoners from the scuttled liner. After he showed up here we did a little checking but we never found out anything.

JH –What group did you pick up where you were ordered to show up with that number anyway you could?

GH – They were in prison out in California. On that detail I didn’t know where I was going. Pat Callahan was the officer in charge and he didn’t know until we got on the train. I think we picked up I don’t remember exactly about 30. The order was to get them to New York dead or alive.

TC – Japanese or Germans?

GH – Germans

PM – Let’s see I think it was a Chicago detail where we took all the prisoners off the train and took them to the county jail in Chicago. We were riding down Michigan Boulevard on a Sunday morning. I was with this guy driving a van load of German prisoners. All at once he decided we were going the wrong way so he pulled a U-turn on a red light and started back. He said he had passed the jail. He made a U-turn on Michigan Boulevard and went back. I sat there and cussed for ten minutes at him and said that I didn’t need to come to Chicago to get kill.


Harold Frakes

Mr. Frakes entered the Border Patrol on October 18 1954 as a member of the 56th session. He was interviewed on October 11 1978 by Mr. Oscar J. Martinez a member of the Institute of Oral History University of Texas at El Paso. Interview includes incidents involved with apprehensions work with Hungarian Refugees in 1956 and as a U.S. Marshall in 1962 during the James Meredith era and the University of Mississippi.

M: Mr. Frakes could we start off with some basic biogra­phical information? When and where were you born?

F: In Hennessey Oklahoma. September the 26th 1928.

M: Did you grow up in Oklahoma?

F: In Oklahoma yes. I Went to college at Oklahoma State University.

M: Oh. we’d play Oklahoma State sometimes. We’d always get wiped out in football. How did you happen to join the Border Patrol?

F: Well it’s kind of a funny story really. I was working for the Boeing Airplane company at Wichita. Kansas and there was a fellow named Roy Johnson that was working with me and he was about 65 years old. And he decided he’d retire and they gave him a gold watch for his re­tirement and a handshake and I didn’t see how you could survive too long on that. So I saw this ad in the Wichita Kansas paper for Border Patrol agents and so I went down and took the written exam and passed it; and took the oral and the physical and was on my way.

M: When was that?

F: I entered on duty in October 18 1954.

M: And where did you for your training?

F: Well initially I went to El Paso to the Border Patrol School at Fort Bliss. And then from there I was assigned to Mercedes Texas.

M: Do you remember having any preconceptions about what you would find in a place like El Paso- what the duty would be like or what the town would be like?

F: Not really. The only thing I had seen was in the American Rifleman that Bill Toney had written some articles about pistol shooting and competition shooting and he showed some border patrolmen and they were wearing khaki uniforms because in that time well they wore khaki like the military. And I saw that and I always did like competition shooting and I thought well. that’d be an opportunity to do something I like and make a living at the same time. But as far as El Paso it was kind of a mystery to me and I thought I would really enjoy It. getting away to Mexico and to Mexico I travel in Mexico extensively. Even today. I just got back from Guadalajara and Michoacan.

M: Vacation trip?

F: Yeah. But I take ‘em all the time. I have an airplane and I fly down there all the time.

M: Was El Paso and Ciudad Juarez the way you imagined the place?

F: Well really you know from Marty Robbins’ records and such as that possibly. And I don’t know when he wrote that record “El Paso.” As far as the climate was concerned it was a lot drier than I was used to and that was a sur­prise to me. And then it was a lot colder at times. But I enjoyed that because it was refreshing as far as the climate was concerned. And as far as the town itself of El Paso I didn’t ever work in El Paso. I got to go down to the Border Patrol office one time. The rest of my time was spent at Fort Bliss at the Border Patrol school because we went to school five days a week and then on Saturday they had us painting buildings painting barracks and stuff and we didn’t get off the base. So really I didn’t get off the base. And then they warned us about staying out of Ciudad Juarez because they said there’d be a good opportunity for us to get over there and get in trouble. And so those of us who heeded the warning didn’t get over there very much. So I really didn’t get much exposure to El Paso or Juarez.

M: I was wondering when the first time you went to Juarez was and what experiences you had. Juarez was quite wide open at that time.

F: Yeah. I was afraid to drive my car so I think we rode over on a…! I think they have a streetcar or trolley or something there that you can ride.

M: They used to.

F: And then we got off and walked around. And I guess the impression I got of Juarez was that everybody was trying to sell you something. And It seemed like the morals of the area at least seemed to be that there was a lot of prostitutes and things that were readily available and nobody had any reluctance to solicit right on the street.
And that’s kind of what I remember about it but that’s been a long time 24 years.

M: Was there any culture shack crossing into Ciudad Juarez?

F: Well it was kind of a mystery. I mean I felt very sorry for the poor people. I saw the poor people and then of course I saw some of the places that the rich people had. It didn’t seem to be much of an in-between. It looked to me like there were some in Mexico that had things had everything and the ones that didn’t have anything were just destitute. That’s the Impression that I got that there wasn’t any middle class as we have here in this country. That was the impression. I think that through the years that I’ve maintained this impression except that I notice that the middle class Is coming up in Mexico. And I think it’s gonna be the salvation of Mexico when they get a middle class developed to where everybody has a little something.

M: Yeah the middle class is growing in Mexico. It’s still small but they’re growing. How was your training there at Fort Bliss?

F: Well if I remember it was about six weeks Is all that we stayed. And we had physical education. I remember that there was a lot of sand burrs there. I got sand burrs in my tennis shoes and I remember that. We had to do a lot of running and the air was so dry that it made it really difficult to run.

M: It was your job to apprehend as many illegal aliens as we could. Did you have a lot of help?

F: We had a lot of people here from the Northern border investigators and from Florida and different places. And it was our job to apprehend as many people as possible and try to clear ‘em out. And we in that year of 54 which I just got in the end of it but the statis­tics show they apprehended over a million aliens.

M: I’ve seen the figures. It’s amazing.

F: And the thing I remember about this and the reason I felt that we were doing good for the Mexicans as well as for everybody I mean the Mexican nationals Is because at that time every little pool of water where they had enough water where you could dip water out well they had a Mexican family-the mother the wife and the children. And the children were often sick and the wife was sick because they were drinking this stagnant water. And they were living in little houses called jacales which are made out of sticks that are interwoven and then with the palm leaves on top. And this was not a good thing. And then the Bracero Program came along and then they had to bring just the workers and leave the families at home and they paid them better wages and they had to provide medical attention for them and they had to give ‘em housing and if they got sick they went to the hospital. And it was better it really was better because these people were dying like flies out there living in just appalling conditions that they imposed upon them­selves by coming over here. And I still feel that way I still feel that we were doing them a service.

M: These were makeshift camps?

F: Yes just everywhere.

M: Everywhere?

F: Yeah just along the edge of the river. I remember that they were along the edge of the river and they were around just every where. Now I can’t confirm this because I don’t have this personal knowledge but it was my understanding that during World War II that there was a laxity of enforcement to provide the man­power to harvest the crop because our people were in war and so they let these people in the 40s and they didn’t really make too much enforcement effort. And therefore this is why they had all this build-up of people in the border area is because there hadn’t really been a strict enforcement. I’ve heard old-timers that were old-timers when I came in talking about a Mexican passport. And I says. “What do you mean?” They says “Well if he’s got a shovel over his shoulder or a hoe you don’t talk to him. He’s employed. You leave him alone. Or if he’s in a field you can’t talk to him because he’s in a field and you have to only talk to him if he’s walking down the road and looks like he’s transient or just came in.” But that was before my time. I have no personal experience on that. But that sounds reasonable because we did have a big build­up and there has to be a reason for that because we didn’t have the restrictions on enforcement that we have now. I mean there were very few aliens that ever had an attorney or anything like that. They’d just load ‘em up and they’d go back. It seems like most everybody I remember is from Guanajuato or someplace like that.

M: Jalisco Michoacan.

F: Yeah. It’s a…and I don’t understand this but I have yet to personally talk to an alien who1s from the Yucatan area. They don’t seem to come here. They’re Mayan and they don’t seem to have any interest in coming over here. I’ve been traveling down there quite a bit and I was kind of interested. I’m very much interested in the Mayan people. They’re entirely different than anybody and they’re lovely people. They’re small and they’re very nice I really enjoy the Mayan people. Very much.

M: Do you recall any interesting incidents during that time the wetback drive or Operation Wetback?

F: Well I don’t know that this would be particularly Interesting but this is one little incident that happened over at San Benito and I was working with a fellow named Harry F. Clayburgh. And I was a trainee new on the job. And we went to this dance that they had out in the little dance hail out there in the country. We came driving up in our jeep and we were in uni­form of course. And said “Are we gonna go in and check these people?” And he says “No just wait a minute.” And so we stood around outside and pretty soon I heard somebody fall down and knock the breath out of ‘em. You know you could hear the breath kind of uh like that you know He said. “Okay that’s what I was waiting for.” And I said “What do you mean?” He says “Well” he said “come on I’ll show you.” And we went around behind the dance ball where the back door was and there was a plowed field. And these girls had started running to get away these prostitutes that were over here from Mexico. And when they hit that plowed field in those high heel shoes they fell down and we just went around gathering em up loading ‘em. (Chuckles) I don’t know that that’s too inter­esting but…

M: Well it is yeah.

F: It shows that if you know your area you know what you’re doing you can kind of you don’t have to… And that saved us going in there and chasing everybody because they all ran out the back way.

M: Where were these prostitutes from?

F: Just the border areas. They’d just come across the river just immediately adjacent to it. And we’d take them right back down to the bridge write ‘em up and take them down to the bridge and send them back.

M: Is those pretty common prostitutes crossing the river and coming over?

F: Oh yes. Yes It’s very common. I mean I don’t see that it’s changed that much. Today that’s what I was thinking about because they come over now. They didn’t have any papers then but now they have the local cards or tarjeta local and they come over they’re a little more sophisticated. But the same thing. It’s difficult to stop this kind of thing because they have these local cards. And a prostitute’s supposed to be excludable not come in but then in order to prove that a person’s a prosti­tute you’ve got to have records from the Mexicans to show that she’s a registered prostitute. And they’ve had decisions down through the years that If you catch even If you see a man pay a woman for prostitu­tion they have a ruling that says that one time does not constitute a professional prostitute and it’s very difficult to establish this. And so they still come in with the local cards. And some of 'em still come across in boats. Right down here at Peñitas they still come in boats and we still pick them up.

But we had a thing called the Emancipacion which was a boat that went out of Brownsville to Tampico and I think I don’t know if they ever got down to Veracruz. But they would haul aliens down. Maybe they went all the way to Veracruz I can1t remember. It was an old Canadian mine sweeper and they had converted it over to haul people. And of course a farmer well I would be the same way I’d get seasick especially If the water was a little rough. because I’m not a seaman. And the fact that these people got seasick caused them to stay home. That’s pro­bably one of the biggest preventive measures that we ever had was running that boat and hauling those people back down to the interior of Mexico. But they did away with that. But that well mostly everybody that we would send would be from the inte­rior that’s been the Service’s policy ever since I can remember. If you can catch an illegal alien and send this alien as nearly to his home as close to his home as possible well then that person will stay home. If you take a person from Guanajuato and you put him across at Reynosa well there’s very little Incentive for him not to come right back. But If you send him to Leon Guanajuato and he’s from within 20 miles from there he’ll go home. Now how long he’ll stay I don’t know. But after about two times like that it gets kind of frustrating and they stay home. Well the policy has varied in accordance with the amount of money that they’ve had to spend because it does cost money to send people.

M: Right now the policy is to just take ‘em across the river?

F: Well no. We have a line on a map out there that if they live far from the border area-which actually the border area now starts at Tampico and runs up to Monterrey and the line and over to Big Bend country for this area-they’ll be granted what they call a local voluntary departure which is across the bridge at Reynosa or Progreso or Brownsville Rio Grande City where ever they happen to be caught. But if they’re from the interior well then we have what they call a bus lift. And they’re put on a bus at Port Isabel or they’re sent to the center now it used to be called deten­tion camp. It’s like a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

M: Like an undocumented alien.

F: Yeah. But then they get I think a Mexican bus and this bus takes them to the interior.

M: How far?

F: Well I don’t know. I guess it would be in accordance with where the people are from but I don’t know where the terminus is I’ve never had anything to do with it. But I think they go as nearly.. .you know try to put the people in according to where the bus is going so that they can get them as near home as possible so they’ll stay home. That’s what they want to do they want them to stay home. But then…

M: They don’t.

F: Well a lot do a lot do. I don’t know if you’ve traveled In Mexico or not but if you go down in there you’ll see there’s an awful lot of Mexicans down there and they’re not all up here. It may look like they’re all up here but they’re not. There’s a lot of people down there. And things are getting better in Mexico. In fact I just got back from Nicaragua and you talk about cul­ture shock. I flew from here to Tap Chula and cleared customs and left Mexico there went to Nicaragua and I was down there about a week. And when I came back to Tap Chula Mexico from Nicara­gua I felt that the standards for the average person were much higher for Mexico and I felt so much better getting back Into Mexico as I feel when I come from Mexico into the United States. So to me I mean that’s my personal feeling but I’d say that Mexico is coming up. They’re coming up in their well finan­cial. That’s the only thing that can…if you’ve got a dollar you can buy beans you know. And it’s still the best bargain in the world for us to travel and yet it’s…well I like Mexico I like to travel in Mexico and like the people. I never have any trouble with the people down there. Never. I never have. With anybody. Because I treat them like I’d like to be treated and that’s all you have to do to anybody.

M: And you speak Spanish?

F: Oh yes. My wife is well your partner’s name was Sanchez. Her maiden name was Sanchez.

M: Where’s she from?

F: She’s from here she’s from McSherryland which Is over by Mission just about five miles from here.

M: Well how did you meet her? That’s Interesting.

F: Well I’m on the credit committee at the local credit union and she’s assistant manager there. And I worked there for many years and now I’m on the Board of Directors. And we just got married. And she’s very she’s very nice to me. She and I have a little game when we go to Mexico that often she doesn’t understand what they’re saying. I mean sometimes. She speaks her parents are “mestizo.” Are you familiar with that term?

M: Yes.

F: So on her passport they’re resident aliens and they have been in the United States since before I was born I believe as legal resident aliens. They live near here and her father Is from that town where they have the soda popTehuantepec or whatever it is down there. And then her mother is from Veracruz. And neither one of her parents speak English so she speaks Spanish fluently. But she has well of course she speaks Spanish ten times better than I do but she still gets confused a little bit on dialects. They kind of throw her. Since I don’t know enough to recognize a dialect.
I just got through talking to some Indians in Michoacan and they’re different. Now that’s another group of people entirely. I’m a photographer by hobby and I do a lot of photography for the Border Patrol. And I had my cameras with me as I always do and this woman had a purse that she had woven on the loom. you could see it back in the background. We’d stopped there. And I asked her if she’d sell it. “Yes it was 50 pesos and I had no use for it at all.” I said “Well I’ll tell you what I’ll give you 50 pesos for the purse if you’ll let me take your picture” and she said “The purse is 50 pesos and you cannot take my picture.” And that was It. And the Indians are that way. I think it’s a supersti­tion or something. They do not want their picture made. And I honor them I don’t ever take their picture unless they give me permission. I bought a blanket and a sweater from an Indian family in Chapala Jalisco. I spent about 650 pesos and I said “Now that I’ve bought these things I’d like for you to hold them and I’ll take your picture.” And he said “You can take our picture for 50 pesos.” And I says “Well no thanks I don’t think its worth that much for me to have your picture.” But well they’re business people I guess. But I couldn’t go around giving two dollars every time I want to take a picture of a Mexican. I’d go broke pretty fast.

M: When you first came down here how long did you stay down here?

F: Well I didn’t stay very long. I stayed possibly a year. Maybe a little over a year. Then I had an opportunity to go to Detroit. Michigan in the Border Patrol. So I transferred to Detroit and worked in Detroit.

M: What did you do up there? It’s the Canadian border.

F: Yes. Well you still have the Mexicans up there and a lot of illegals. And since I had just come from the Mexican border why I was able to more or less detect the illegal ones by well just by being ac­quainted with then. I worked in that area and then we worked the Canadians who they cane over and work without permits or you know without immigrating. And then surprisingly there was quite a few blacks that came from Canada.

M: Blacks from Canada?

F: Yes. And they’re really hard to dig out because they get in with the black element in Detroit. And they won’t even answer the door when you knock on the door you know. They’re probably the hardest ones of all at least for me. And then there was another aspect that they had that I enjoyed. They had a speed boat that they checked smuggling across the Detroit River. I got to work on that a little bit. I enjoyed that.

M: Any interesting incidents?

F: No. Really as far as shoot-outs or…

M: Or just situations like the ones that you have des­cribed that illustrate some human interest element in them.

F: Very little happened In Detroit because that’s a very inhuman town.

M: It sure is.

F: But I transferred from there to Sault Ste. Marie Michigan which is up at the top of Michigan at the very top in the upper peninsula and that was more interesting. It required a lot more driving because we had the whole upper peninsula which is 320 miles long. And we had worked that area. And I met a lot of interesting people but we had very little…well I worked snowshoes up there. I went on Sugar Island and I walked with snowshoes. First time I ever had to do that in my life that was kind of different.

M: You were looking for aliens in the snow?

F: Yeah. You see Sugar Island was across the river from Sault Ste. Marie but it belongs to the United States. The river forks there I guess and goes around both sides of it. So they had summer homes there. Well then these people we got word that they were
coming across and breaking into the summer homes and robbing. Well not robbing but what would you call it? They were just pilfering and doing damage and so we went to investigate. I never did find any evidence that that was going on. We caught…well see about that time they had the Hungarian program. I did get involved in that too. While I was still at Detroit before I went to Sault Ste. Marie I went to New Jersey-New
Brunswick New Jersey–when they brought all the Hungarians.

M: 1956.

F: Yeah.

M: For processing?

F: Oh yeah. That was quite a thing. I learned a little Hungarian. I can say “Show me your identi­fication” in Hungarian which is a little different in Spanish. And I had to work on the gates and as cars were coming they wouldn’t pay any attention and I had to learn “be careful” in Hungarian I had a lot of human interest things there as far as the people. I voluntarily went into an area where they had tuberculosis and worked with them And the Catholic Church and different ones were trying to help. And with so many people sometimes things would get mixed up as far as who was gonna go where and what. Well there were two wives and two young men and the young men had tuberculosis and they needed to go to a center for treatment which they sent them And then the wives were still at the camp and these guys were several hundred miles upstate somewhere. Well they ran away from their tuberculosis deal and came back to the camp. I think its Camp Kilmer New Jersey where we were. And then the time that everybody got through yelling at each other well. then everybody got mad and so they signed an agreement to return to Austria. And I asked the doctor and I asked several agreements “What does this mean?” They said “Well it’s just the same as them signing their death warrant because they’ll die over there. Cause they need treatment.” And I says “Well is it all right if I talk to these people and try to explain this to them and then get them to stay in the United States?” They said “Well yeah but we’ve tried and we can’t do a thing with them.”

So I found an army personnel I don’t know what rank he was corporal or something. He spoke Hungarian. And I said. “Would you come over and interpret for me” cause I couldn’t speak Hungarian. And so I explained the options to them and how it was a mix-up that they had been separated and not gotten back together when they were promised to be and that the Catholic Church didn’t intentionally do anything wrong it was just a
matter of so many people and they weren’t used to handling this volume. And I finally convinced them to remain in the United States. Well I was really elated over that but I ended up getting reprimanded for sticking my nose into some business that was already settled. But I told the guy that jumped on me he was my supervisor I says “Well whenever I have to take my choice between saving two people’s lives or being reprimanded by you I’m gonna take the lives every time. And you can just reprimand me all you want and I don’t care.”

M: What’d he say?

F: Well he got mad and walked off. See some of those people they felt might be Communists that were infil­trating and we had to take interviews from them through interpreters. And I don’t know how it happened but I got the word later when I got back to Michigan that they had put out the word that I was a Communist sympathizer as a result of that action.

M: That you were?

F: Yeah because I had talked these two people into staying you know. And things get twisted around. But I thought “Well I still feel like I did the right thing cause there’s two people still alive because of what I did.” But I don’t know I still don’t feel too good about it because the people that knew better which was the chief who was the one I cleared everything with and he called me after it was all over and he says “Well you did the right thing and you had cleared it with me.” And I said “Well why don’t you tell the rest of these people?” And he said “Well let’s just let it drop. It’s all over.” You know and that left me hanging. It didn’t really affect me in my career or anything but a lot of people felt that I was somewhat less than a patriot which I wasn’t. It’s just things that happen like that but you just have to make your choice-what you’re gonna do. That was when I was still at Detroit. They flew us in a C-46 I think it was. The Border Patrol flew us up there to Maguire.

M: That was just a temporary duty?

F: Yeah about a month or so. And then we landed at Maguire Air Base there and then we went on out by bus I guess It was. Then Sault Ste. Marie I made some acquaintances there but there really wasn’t that much work to do there. It’s just more of a just being there. You know it’s kind of like carrying a gun. They say “Well have you ever had a shoot-out?”, and I say “Well no I haven’t had a shoot-out but how many times would have been shot if I hadn’t had the gun?” You know, cause it’s a preventive measure and that’s what more or less Sault Ste. Marie is. If they didn’t have the Border Patrol there well they’d have half of Canada over there working and knocking everybody out of their job I would imagine. So it’s a pre­ventive measure. And I would rather prevent people than to arrest them after they’ve done something wrong. That’s my feeling I’ve always felt that way. I’d rather have the Mexicans stay in Mexico than to have ‘em come over here and pick them up and put them back. I’d much rather have them stay. On paper it doesn’t look as good because you’re not making the number of apprehensions and everything. But still all In all it’s better for them and better for us if they don’t come over here in the first place as far as our country Is concerned. See that’s why we don’t have that much trouble with Canada be­cause their standard of living is very similar to ours. In fact it’s difficult to see the difference really.

M: It must’ve been hard to detect Canadians who were illegal aliens.

F: Well I set up a system over the time there and I talked to a lot of Canadians and I wrote a little pam­phlet and sent it in as a suggestion which was summarily rejected….

Herbert D. Miller

Mr. Miller entered the U.S. Border Patrol on September 8 1953 at McAllen Texas as a member of Class #50. Some of his classmates not mentioned in his interview include: Lee Calderhead James O’Keefe Raymond Rebsaman and Richard Staley.

Interview was conducted by Ms. Terrie Cornell at the Border Patrol Museum on October 31 1986. This document has historical significance since it contains previously unrecorded information on the California Grape Strike which involved Cesar Chavez the AFL-CIO and employees of the Border Patrol and the former Immigration and Naturalization Service.

TC – You entered on duty in 1953?

HM – September 8 1953 at McAllen Texas. I’m from Indiana. I was born in Windfall outside of Tipton about 50 miles north of Indianapolis. I moved to Danville Indiana about 20 miles west of Indianapolis and I came into the Border Patrol from there.

TC – How did you find out about the Border Patrol?

HM – I was working in a post office. I was going to college and working part-time in the Post Office when the announcements came out. It was one of those things where you take the written and you took the oral. There were a couple of guys from Minnesota came down to give me the oral. They said I couldn’t hack it because I wasn’t from Oklahoma or Texas or some place like that. But I went in anyway. TC – Did you finish college first?

HM – No. I still lack some time. We EOD’d down in Mcallen because that’s where the school was at the time. I was in the 50th session. We had a six week school at that time. And then from McAllen I was transferred to El Centro California. At that time we had the choice of Calexico or El Centro or Brawly when we got out there. So I took El Centro which was alright.

TC – Was that around the time of Operation Wetback?

HM – It was before the Operation Wetback – that was in 1955.

TC – Can you tell me about that?

HM – Well around the fourth of July we had several what they call semi trucks they were military trucks in El Centro I think they got them from back east some place and we had a bunch of them out there and had been hauling aliens in these open-bed trailers from cotton fields up in Westmoreland and up in there. I could drive a semi anyway so I was driving them. That was in 1954 and when this Operation Wetback started there were four trucks. We had a detention facility there in El Centro and they loaded them with mattresses and said “You’re going to McAllen.” So we drove. There were four drivers in each semi. We drove straight through. There were two in the back sleeping. They were those big military open
5-ton International tractors. They were open and canvas tops with the windshields. You’ve seen them around here.

TC – Oh yes. With the slatted sides.

HM – They had open sides. So we drove straight through from El Centro to McAllen. I was down there two months. They had these different units made up of investigators Border Patrol people from all over. I worked mostly down around Brownsvillle. But see we had only been there about three days working and had all the aliens we could handle couldn’t hold any more in McAllen. We had them out on the levee 5 0r 6 thousand down below there in Brownsvillle. You would just run them across the river. The weather was bad raining. I was in that area the whole time that I was down there.

TC – Two months

HM – Yes. And then they would send us out here and they sent people from here or the valley out to Chula Vista El Centro and Yuma. At that time Yuma was a station under El Centro. And then we had a lot of people from New York who were investigators who had never been in the Border Patrol. They had been on a Treasury Department list there in the 1940s and they drew them off of that. So they had a great time. They were out in the wild West and all that. We kind of enjoyed them because the were different. Another guy named Warren Wright and me he’s dead now we drove only one of the semis back from McAllen to El Centro. I think it took us eight days because McBee said “just take your time.” You guys came out in 50 hours. Just take your time going back. So we hit every Sector headquarters between McAllen and El Centro on the way back. It took us seven or eight days to go back out there. Then we got back out there when there were still people left over. We had a bus left and I drove buses from Tucson for about a year. That was a six days a week job.

TC – A bus from where to where?

HM – El Centro detention over to Tucson and then the Tucson people would deliver aliens down to Nogales Mexico. We had some new Greyhound-type buses. There were several of us that spent a year or more driving those buses down there. You would go to Tucson one day stay there leave about 4:00 in the morning like at midnight leaving El Centro and get down there in daylight in Tucson and Tucson people would take it to Nogales. Bring it back and service the bus and you would get up and go back to El Centro and they would load it with another crew would . .
Just kept going like that. I was about a year on that. And then for some reason I got on the airlift not as a pilot but as a stewardess we called it at the time. I don’t know whether you’ve got anything on the airlift or not.

TC – We just got some things from Paul Green.

HM – I figured you would. I have several pictures.

TC – I have some pictures I’ll show you when we’re finished. You were what the called a stewardess?

HM – I was like a guard. Because I had been Air Force in WW II in B29s and I was a flight engineer on B-29s. So we had these C-46s which I think Paul was on. He got a grade out of it for being on the DC-4 for being a flight engineer. He was on them a long time.

TC – How long were you on it?

HM – Probably a year until we had an engine failure on takeoff and that’s the pictures I’ve got. I think it’s the only accident they ever had on that airlift. Well we’ had a guy named Bill Graham.

TC – He was a pilot?

HM – Yes but he was a co-pilot on that one particular trip and I’m trying to think of the pilot’s name. I’m getting mixed up with Hendersen. But anyway we had a lot of trouble on two trips with those particular airplanes. We had a forced landing up in Las Cruces when the engine quit. We were lucky. The magneto gear sheared off and got out of what’s called a bell housing that if it had locked right it would have
Thrown the propeller off the airplane but it didn’t. They got that fixed and we flew it back to El Centro. Then he next day we were supposed to fly between El Centro and Brownsville with these aliens. We wanted to get the aliens out there down there and then we were hauling aliens back this way too.

TC – You were strictly in the United States then?

HM – Yes there wasn’t anything in Mexico. They were trying to confuse them. If the guys were from Michoacan Jalisco and over in here they would fly them clear down east and put them across down by Reynoso. And the ones from down there they would put them across from Mexicali or Nogales or places like that to get them all away from where they supposed to be. We took off and got up to about 300’ and one engine quit. It was heavy and it was hot in the morning. Don Harrison was the pilot. If you could ever get Harrison cornered some place he could tell you more tales than anybody about the airlift. He was in it from the start.

TC – Where does he live now?

HM – He lives in Prescott. He was editor of that Retired Border Patrol paper for a while and he has heart trouble and he gave it up and Hugh Williams down in Del Rio is running it now. But he’s quite a character and he can really tell the tales. So you had two choices. You could either go on out and try to get out with one engine and then make a turn and come back. It was an instantaneous decision and nobody felt good about taking off that morning anyway. So the wheels were still up and full flaps and just slid her down this . . . It’s a Naval Air Station out there in El Centro and it’s a 10500’ runway. They slid this thing almost to the end of the runway and there’ new river. All the garbage out of Mexicali runs north there. Slid it up to the end of that and I never got in and airplane for a long time after that. The guy that kept his head well it happened so quick that the aliens didn’t know what happened. The batteries were down in the bottom of the airplane and they were shorting out the battery cables. The maintenance was all done at Brownsville by Pan American and there was a mechanic from there that was up there and they’d flown him into Las Cruces when we had the trouble and then he went to El Centro and then we were going to take him back to Brownsville. He got down there and unhooked the battery cables right away because they were sparking and smoking and all that good stuff. It all came out all right. I have some pictures of the airplane. That was May 2955. Then I took the seniors exam at the time made that and got transferred to Calexico in 1955. I was there for about a year and I transferred up to Indio in 1958.

TC – at that time what sector was that in?

HM – El Centro. I was in Indio until 1965. We had details going up to the Bakersfield area for years and I always seemed to go up there and so I opened a station up there in 1965. We were doing alright. We were a long ways from any place up there and nobody bothered us and then we got involved right in middle of the grape strike. That was our biggest claim to fame.

TC – What happened then? I haven’t heard about that.

HM – You never heard about the grape strike? Cesar Chavez. I know Mr. Chavez real good..

TC – What was the Border Patrol’s part in that?

HM – The Border Patrol’s part there were a lot of people out there that didn’t really understand all this. Well I didn’t either and I was there. But we had Chavez up there he was in Delano. He tried to set up just a little union a local union without help from AFL-CIO or UAW or anything like that. The packing shed workers have their own union but he was after the ones in the field the pickers. In this particular area at the time they were all table grapes Thompson seedless and things like that. And so he would tell us where the illegal aliens worked all the time because he was trying to get his own people in there which weren’t illegal aliens most of them. They were a lot a Filipinos a lot of immigrant aliens.

So all at once in 1968 he got the United Farm Workers organization which he was head of and got $5000000 from the AFL-CIO and they sent organizers in there and all of this good stuff. Ramsey Clark was the Attorney General. It ended up that Ramsey Clark said that we were going to unionize the whole central valley of California which he didn’t know what was talking about to start with. We got people from the Labor Department out there. We had Mario Noto from our Central Office who was an infamous type of individual. They detailed investigators Border Patrolmen. We’d have several hundred of them at a time in there all working out of Bakersfield. We would go out in every one of these fields where there were pickers. We’d have a little 3×5 card and copy down the man’s name his immigration status if he was an I-151 put his A number on residence all that good stuff. And then for about ten days we would bring all that in and we would turn that over to the Union. Now those were our instructions from the Attorney General. So the organizers the people from the union would go down in front of these people’s homes at night and raise hell. Threaten them with bodily harm and all that. So there was A District Director in Los Angeles I’ll remember his name in a minute one of the most knowledgeable men I ever ran into in the Immigration Service.

TC – Is he still living?

HM – Yes he is still living. He never did have a lot to do with the Border Patrol. He was a District Director and he could have been anything he wanted in the Immigration Service. He said “we’re not going to do that.” This was intimidation at its worst. We were under the Justice Department and Central office kept insisting that we do this. The Region and District finally put a stop to that.

TC – Giving cards to the union?

HM – Yes giving that information to the union. It could have been real bad because you were going on property out there and in many cases you didn’t have any reason or right to go on. The growers kinda got together and we had a Mr. Giamara in Bakersfield who was probably the biggest grower and there were nationalities s = a lot of Yugoslavians and some Italians not too popular with Giamara I guess there were a lot of Yugoslavians but they did not try to cause any trouble over that. We talked to them. If they hadn’t have wanted us to go on the property I don’t know what we’d have done. But anyway I was right in the middle of this because it was our area all the time. I figured that in three years it took ten year off my live. Just a burnout thing. I worked for over two years and didn’t have a day off.

TC – It lasted two years?

HM – It lasted about 2 and half years. It was from 1968 until about the first part of 1971. And they had these records files on all these people by the tens of thousands. I have no idea how much money that operation cost but you had a lot of individuals that wouldn’t come out. They said “I’m not going to do that” and you can’t blame them if they were told to do it. So a lot of them we sent home.

TC – Border Patrol?

HM – Yes. We just turned around and sent them home. But we had enough problems without having problems with them doing it or not doing it.

TC – How many Border Patrolmen did you have there most of the time?

HM – I’d say at the big time in 1969 which was the heaviest time it started in 1968 we started with 4 officers in the station and we got it up to 22 and then we get people in there by the 50s. Thirty or forty investigators and 50 or 60 Border Patrol for 30 days and they’d change that. Sometimes we’d have over two hundred people detailed out there. It was kind of a slapstick-type deal but you didn’t really have control. They knew what they had to do and most of them didn’t like what they were doing so we can understand that. They were sent out there to do something and I got a little hostile. A lot of us got hostile and I probably was lucky I didn’t get transferred out of there before it was all over with. We had all this information left over which was just sitting there . . . and so we asked the Region to ask Central Office what to do with it and they said to destroy it. About that time I kinda got turned off on lot things after that. So I stayed up there until 1971 then I transferred to Calexico for three years, 1971 to 1975, and then I transferred here to EPIC in 1975.

TC – Was it new then?

HM – Yes it opened up in 1975. It had been here I think M. O’
Connor and two or three of the DEA guys had been there for about six months when hey were trying to get it set up. The Immigration people were Brandemuehl me and John Sorg. I think John was there a week before Buck and I got there.

TC – You were the three from the Border Patrol?

HM – Yes plus Jerry O’Connor. He’d been there from the start of things. He and a man from the DEA. They had a little hole in the wall some cars and a desk.

TC – When did you retire?

HM – At the end of 1978.

TC – You retired from EPIC?

HM – Yes. I was with EPIC when I retired. It didn’t look like I was going to get out of there so I retired.

TC – And went back to California?

HM – Yes we were around here for about six months and since we still have three children in California we went up to Dixon which is about 20 miles west of Sacramento. We moved out there to stay a couple of years to see what we were going to do and we’re still there. Our oldest son is there.

TC – How many children do you have?

HM – Five

TC – They were all born in California?

HM – No. Three of them were born in Indiana before I came in the Border Patrol. I went to college after WW II. I was in Indiana and I was going to school working part-time at the post office and I was a projectionist at the Loma Theater at the night and all that good stuff trying to keep it all together. I didn’t do it so I joined Border Patrol and left town. Just to be truthful I guess the first 15 years were really enjoyable. I really liked it. Then after that we had so many things working against us sometimes. You’re out there in the desert running around in a jeep there’s not really much bothering you out there so that was OK. I met a lot of nice people. Then some not so nice. But that’s all backwards. It’ll be eight years I left a little early. I’ve always been one that wanted to know what I was supposed to be doing and what the plan was and I got to the place where there wasn’t any plan and I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing. I can’t handle that.

TC – How many people were at Bakersfield when you left?

HM – They say there were a certain number that were assigned there permanently twenty-two when I left. All these others were detailed in there for 30-day details from all over the United States.

TC – Do you know how big it is today?

HM – What the station? It’s only 10 or 12 people out there.

TC – And they do mostly farm and ranch checks?

HM – Yes. During the operation on the grape strike we tried checking traffic on the highways. It’s impossible but they did a good job and we didn’t have any accidents. Some of the guys got a lot of tongue lashings and a few things like that from these union people the organizers. But they brought organizers in from all over. They’ had a lot of people who had been in the Peace Corps there.

TC – Training?

HM – No. They’d been in the Peace Corps and come back and we had a lot of the attorneys. In California every country had the volunteer attorneys there. They jumped on the farm bandwagon for the union and you always had them on your neck. A couple of them I got to be good friends with. In fact my son-in-laws father was a part owner of a 24-hour Mexican radio station in Bakersfield. The union got to put ads on the radio station. I would listen and I would tell him “That is not right what they’re saying.” So they sent the ads down to us to check and make sure they were right. So then they sued the radio station. They went to the FCC and tried to get their license revoked. And the guy that was part owner of the radio station said “Who’s causing all this trouble?” I told him Jerry and the attorney. He said they went to college together at Amherst and this Jerry had gone on to Columbia Law School and his dad was a big junk dealer in New York City. He did all this on purpose and after he got through the grape strike he goes back to New York and now he’s a big labor lawyer. He was getting background. He was living like the rest of those guys with money. Of course he always had money. But it was just an everyday deal.

For instance they would call me at home I had an unlisted phone number – to tell me what they were going to do me. “You can’t do this and we got a promise from the Attorney General and they are going to move us out of here” and all that stuff. It was a bad time it really was. So I kind of lost a lot of respect for a lot of people in our organization too about that time. There were some great people that retired and resigned because of all this. So there are probably still Border Patrolmen that remember being out there and thought I was on the union’s side and I wasn’t really trying to be on anybody’s side. I was just trying to stay alive. As I said we sent a lot home who said “I’m not going to do that.” The guys that were out there thought I was with Mr. Noto and the Labor Department and all that.

In fact right before I left I was talking to Cesar Chavez and he apologized to me for all the problems. He said It did not come out like we wanted anyway. The whole thing got out of hand because we were promised this by the union and we were promised this by the Attorney General’s office and we did not know it was going to cause all this trouble like it did. Because they brought in everybody and he lost control of it there for a while. They were using his name and he had noting to do with anything. And it really failed because we had a big thing with Schemley’s which was owned by the Kennedys. They went for five years out there on this vineyard and they watered it but never pruned it like it should have been and they never picked any grapes because the couldn’t get union people in there. See you would call down the day before you needed 400 pickers from the union hall and they could not promise you 400 pickers. If they sent you 100 and you got your other 300 you could only work them for three days or they had to join the union. This is what they set up. If they didn’t join the union after three days that guy had to fire them and go out and find 300 more people because they could never guarantee that you were going to have the people when you needed them.

TC – How is it now? Is it all unionized?

HM – No Some of them joined and signed five-year contracts and just went along and paid lip service and paid their nickel a box for grapes to the union fund and that’s all that ever come out of it. But they got it extended to ten days before the people had to join the union. They all signed. There were 33 of them and what the Labor Department did started out and said that there was a labor dispute in progress on this land. Some of those people sold out during this three or four ear period and the labor dispute was still left on that land by the Labor Department. They certified that there was a labor dispute. That meant that there were supposed to be union people working on that property but they all just kinda gave up. There were 33 of them gave up at the same time signed her off. None of them wanted to but they did.

Yes to get all of those people out of their hair. Because they knew that the union wasn’t going to be able to deliver what they promised so that did not make any difference. They had that from1968 to the first part of 1971. It was a continual hassle. You know like they say a table grape is not needed. The country can get along without table gapes. The union had the boycotts in Boston New York and Chicago which worked because the people back there did not really understand what was going on out here. And some of them were in good financial shape and some of them were not. Some of them had oil wells on their property and some didn’t. It was interesting. I ran into a lot of good people at that time

The growers were just kinda letting us do our thing or there would have been a lot of trouble. And we had very few problems out in the field or on the properties. When a new bunch would come in we would get them all out there like I said before explain what we were trying to do why we were going to do it how they were going to do it. We just didn’t drive down the field wide open in your trucks or cars or whatever. We did not apologize to the people we were taking the information on but we did it without the least bother. So really I got burned out up there and maybe I didn’t do things I should have afterwards but that’s alright.



James R. Gwaltney

Mr. Gwaltney entered the United States Border Patrol in September 1952 and was a member of the 47th Academy class at McAllen Texas. The following oral history of his Border Patrol career was given on April 8 1988 in response to a list of questions which had been furnished to him in advance by the National Border Patrol Museum.

I was born on 3/3/23 at Poseyville Indiana. Father was farmer and County Agriculture Agent. Mother was a housewife with 9 children.

I grew up at various locations in Indiana.

I did not attend college.

I became a Border Patrolman in furtherance of my desire for a career with the government and outdoor employment.

When I entered the Border Patrol my salary was $3795 per annum.

I am unable to determine the exact number of my Trainee Class from personal records now available. Officers who EOD on or about 6/23/52 were divided into two classes. One started training at Las Cruces N.M. shortly after entering on duty. The other of which I was a member worked in the field until about 10/01/52 at which time we attended the first training session held at McAllen TX graduating on 11/15/52.

I also attended the following training courses: Officers Training School (CO) 1956 Senior Patrol Inspector Refresher Course (El Paso) 1958 Senior Patrol Inspector (Special Detail) Course (El Paso) 1959 Negotiating & Implementing Agreements (Civil Service Comm. - Chicago) 1968 Supervisory Development Conference Series (Port Isabel) 1969 Appeals and Grievance Examiner Training Course (Civil Service Commission - Los Angeles) 1971 and Executive Development Seminar (University of Texas Port Isabel) 1972.

I entered the U.S. Navy 01/06/42 and was discharged on 11/12/45. I was living at Alhambra CA on 12/7/41.

I was stationed at El Centro CA (P1 GS’ 6&7) Laredo TX (SPI GS’ 8&9); Detroit MI (SPI GS’ 9) (Special Detail) and General Investigator (GS’ 11); Grand Forks N.D. (ACPI GS’ 11); Yuma AZ (ACPI GS’ 11); Chula Vista CA (ACPI GS’11); Detroit MI (CPI GS’ 12) San Pedro CA (GS’ 13) and SWRO Deputy Regional Chief B/P.

I was detailed to the Hungarian Refugee Program Camp Kilmer N.J. 1957 and Operation Intercept (Coordinating Office) Houston TX

No details relating to Civil Rights marches

I was not involved in El Paso hijacking.

I was not a Sky Marshal

I was not involved in Operation Skyward.

I really don’t know that I had an area of expertise. However I participated in all phases of B/P operations except those involving horses.

This would require a book in itself.

I worked under 11 Chiefs - Edward Parker Donald Coppock .J. Eldon Taylor Jefferson Fell Henry Stallings Bruce Long Dale Norris Edwin Dorn Elmo Rainbolt Allen Gerhart and Gordon Pettingill.

Supervisory positions occupied – Senior Patrol Inspector Assistant Chief Patrol Inspector and Chief Patrol Inspector.

I considered any night operation to be one that required officers to be extremely alert. This was particularly true in traffic checks and stops conducted on roads without the benefits now found in permanent check stations i.e. flood lighting usually two or more officers on duty good radio communications etc. Officers conducting traffic check operations encountered just about every type of law violator.

I consider the following as a comedy of errors. Several snowballs were lobbed over a car on which I was changing a tire in the parking lot at the Detroit Headquarters and station building in 1959. Peering over the top I saw the Station Senior standing on the rear porch with a big grin on his face. I crouched behind the car again made a good hard snowball stepped out and let loose. My target moved aside and my “missile” went through one of the panes of glass in the door. The Chief appeared in the door within seconds but before he could say anything I said “Chief I’ll have a new glass in that door within 30 minutes.” I obtained a replacement at a nearby hardware store and had it installed with a few minutes to spare. Needless to say I never asked the Chief where he was when that pane of glass “exploded”.

I spent my career in the Border Patrol. The SPI (special Detail) position I occupied at Detroit was reclassified and upgraded to General Investigator
(GS-11). Although the position was carried on the Detroit District Office roster I was detailed to the Sector.

I enjoyed every day of my Border Patrol career even though there Were times when I thought our enforcement efforts were? hampered and/or misdirected for political reasons — a condition probably experienced in any government agency.

A high level of camaraderie existed among Border Patrol officers even though Service policies for years appeared to reflect that pay grade levels equipment needs operating funds and position sensitivity etc. in the other branches of the Service were more significant than those of the Border Patrol. Such policies ignored that B/P officers were required to work under more hazardous conditions enforce the same laws and regulations render comparable decisions and conduct operations in accordance with the same Operating Instructions.

It took a special type of a woman to be the wife of a dedicated Border Patrol officer especially during the early years of a career. Due to the long and varied hours of duty isolated locations of many duty stations and transfers the major portion of responsibility for the rearing children management of family income and needs plus maintaining a cohesive family unit usually fell on her shoulders.

I retired on 6/29/73 to my 1/3 acre “UCR Ranch” at Yuma AZ. Hobbies such as silver-smithing plaque making fishing helping neighbors and friends have occupied my time.

Leo E. Dunnigan

Leo Dunnigan entered the U.S. Border Patrol at McAllen Texas on July 5 1949. He is one of the very few Border Patrolmen who was successful in passing his probationary period without the benefit of formal Academy training. According to his own account, the Academy only had one class in 1949 and that was before he entered the Service. Leo was a Naval Aviator before becoming a Border Patrolman. Interview was conducted at the National Border Patrol Museum El Paso Texas on May 16 1989 by Ms. Terrie Cornell

LD – I was raised in Waihalla North Dakota.

TC – And there was a Border Patrol Station there?

LD – During the time I was going to school yes. It was terminated right at the beginning of the war 1942 or ‘43  41 or 42 I guess.

TC – Do you remember any of the men who were there?

LD – Yes. Red Hodson. He was there when I was going to high school and then he was a Border Patrolman out of Casa Grande when I was out there.

TC – So that’s were you became acquainted with the Border Patrol?

LD – Right.

TC – And then the war broke out?

LD – The war broke out and I went into the military and came back.
When I took the test for the Border Patrol I was working for the
Prison Service in Englewood Colorado. Then I guess it was almost a year later when I went in the Service at McAllen.

TC – And what was the date of your EOD?

LD – July 5 1949.

TC – And you had learned to fly in the

LD – In the military right.

TC – Where?

LD – I was a naval aviator. I came through the aviation cadet program. I started out at Iowa City Iowa in the pre-f light school at the University. And then I went to Hutchinson and Corpus Christi graduated at Corpus.

TC – So you entered on duty at McAllen and you came up here for school?

LD – No there was no school at that time.

TC – Is that the one –

LD – That’s what they called the 49’ers yes. There was one school during the year and it was in January of ‘49 here at Camp Chigas.

TC – And the rest of the year?

LD – Everybody that came in during the rest of the year didn’t go to school.

TC – Because?

LD – I don’t really know why they didn’t go to school. They didn’t run the school.

TC – So you never had to learn Spanish?

LD – Oh yes yes. There was no relaxation of the requirements. You still had to learn Spanish.

TC – But on your own.

LD – Right. In fact we didn’t even have in service instructors like they had later on.

TC – How did you do it?

LD – I don’t really know how we did it I guess working together with the rest of them and the older Border Patrolmen helped me. There were a tremendous number of people that didn’t make it. You know I don’t suppose over fifteen percent of the people that took the test ended up Border Patrolmen at that time.

TC – Who else was in your group at that tine?

LD – Other 49’ers? Well John Bailey was one of the people that
Was with me. Claud Hicks Jim Blockinger Ed Mcclure.

TC – So you stayed right there in McAllen and

LD – No after about two or three weeks I was transferred up to
Kingsville and I stayed at Kingsville for four years.

TC – Who was the Chief then at McAllen?

LD – Fletcher Rawls.

TC – And who were the Seniors?

LD: The Seniors at McAllen? Mr. Jim Cottingham and Sam McKone.

TC – And at Kingsville who was in charge there?

LD – Let’s see Arthur Swain came just after I got there. T.E.
Phillips was a senior he and Bill Toney. And right after I got
there – actually they were in the process of changing at the tine Arthur Swain came from McAllen.

TC – And he was in charge of the Kingsville Station?

LD – He was in charge of the Kingsville Station all the time I was there.

TC – Who else did you work with there? You didn’t do any flying there?

LD – No. I started flying in -‘53 when I transferred back to McAllen.

TC: And who was chief there in ‘53?

LD – Fletcher Rawls. And Phil Pring – that’s when they put the second pilot in. I was the second pilot in McAllen. There were only two sectors had two pilots. There were two pilots here in El Paso and then McAllen got two pilots.

TC – Phil Pring and you.

LD – Phil Pring and I yes. And Bill Turner and Hayfield were here.

TC – And what did you fly a Super cub?

LD – No we were flying Cessna 170’s down there. They had a Super Cub and a Bonanza here.

TC – And you had two Cessnas down there.

LD – Yes.

TC – And what did you do? Up and down the border?

LD –No mostly we worked with the ground units there in McAllen. That was the start of the Task Forces actually the way you used the Task Force down there.

TC –That was right at the beginning of Operation Wetback.

LD –Well it was before that but that’s where all the technique came from. Working the units on the ground where you work fifteen or twenty units from the airplane directing them here and there and everywhere.

TC – And you guys kind of devised that system.

LD –Well I think that’s where it was pioneered yes. Because it went on to be used. As I understood their operation here in El Paso it was mostly sign-cutting. But ours was not sign-cutting it was strictly with the units.

TC –You said twenty units under you at one time?

LD –Oh sometimes you would have twenty yeah. But normally you would have maybe six seven eight to ten. But we used that same technique in other places after that. They may have been using it out in El Centro too. They had a situation that was similar to ours in McAllen. Large huge numbers of aliens — three four five hundred working in a field. I remember one morning there at Donna Road and 495 in the valley we had three thousand aliens on the ground by ten o’clock in one place.

TC –And what happened to them?

LD –Oh it took us the rest of the day to haul them off.

TC –That was before Operation Wetback?

LD –Right.

TC –And how did it change during Operation Wetback?

LD –Well the same thing occurred except we had so many men and so many people you know. I don’t remember but the apprehension numbers were like five and six thousand a day. That three thousand that happened to be kind of a special deal that we ran. But it was rather remarkable with something like fifteen or twenty men I guess.

TC –How long were you there in McAllen the second time?

LD –Until February of ‘55 when I was transferred to Tucson.

TC –And you were in Tucson eight years?

LD –Until mid—1965. I don’t remember what month it was August or something like that. About ten years.

TC –Tell me about Tucson were you the first pilot there?

LD –No Bob Brewster was the first pilot there. No he might not have been. I think maybe Greg Hathaway was actually the first pilot there. The three pioneers so to speak: Hathaway and Parker and Henderson.

TC –He wasn’t killed in the autogiro?

LD –No Ned Henderson was killed in the autogiro.

TC –But Hathaway was one of the pilots?

LD –Yes. And later quit and became head of the Arizona Highway
Patrol and stayed there until he retired.

TC –He’s not still living is he?
LD – No. Parker died recently and he was the last of the

TC –I got him on tape. So you went out there with Brewster in Tucson?

LD –No Brewster had left. That’s how I happened to go there I took his place.

TC –Who else was flying out there?

LD –I was the only one for almost the entire time. The last couple of years I had another pilot.

TC –Who was that?

LD –Jack Ewing came there and then Darryl Carrico was transferred in from Florida after the Florida operation. They started phasing it out.

TC –What did you fly in Tucson?

TM: I got the first Cessna 180 in the Border Patrol. I had a
Super Cub for a little while and then it went to Marfa. The Cessna 180 had been ordered for the Tucson Sector.

TC –You never got another Super Cub?

LD –We got a Super Cub later after the second pilot came but I flew a 180 or 182 all the time I was out there.

TC –You don’t happen to remember the number of that Super Cub that you got?

LD –The Super Cub no I sure don’t. I may have a picture of it though.

TC –What did you do flying in Tucson?

TM: Well Tucson was quite a bit different than it was down in McAllen although we did some of the same work with the farm crews up in the Phoenix area and Casa Grande and the Gila Bend Area.

But we worked over the sign cutting units. Not sign cutting per se from the airplane — only a very few places you could do that in the Tucson Sector along the border. But we used to use it more or less to pin the alien down so that the ground units could get to him. If I stayed over the top of the country ahead of them I could keep the alien down until they could get there. Or quite frequently I’d find them out there somewhere. But there is no question that in most of the Tucson country that they can conceal themselves.

TC –Did you do many search and rescue type things?

LD –Hunted for a lot of escaped prisoners out of Florence. The State or Federal penitentiary always seemed to have somebody getting loose from time to time. And they always asked for our help. And I spent sixty hours hunting for Ed Parker’s abscondee at ten thousand feet out there – the alien that jumped out of the airplane.

TC –You were involved in that?

LD –Yes.

TC –They never did find him.

LD –No they never did find him. But I flew for a week and a half or two weeks – I think I flew nearly sixty hours looking for him something like that.

TC –They chalked that up as a suicide finally didn’t they?

LD –I don’t know.

TC –Ed was flying the plane when he jumped?

LD –Yes.

TC –That’s quite a story. But you didn’t find many aliens dead or half—dead in the desert.

LD –No. In fact I don’t remember having any at that time. They did over in the Yuma Sector but not the Tucson Sector. There is enough water in most of that country that they can get to water once in a while. Except maybe over at Ajo in the Gila Bend area — that’s pretty desolate. But we didn’t have a lot of aliens moving through the Gila Bend country at that time. Later I understand they did but we didn’t at that time. Most of it was through Nogales or Douglas.

TC –And you were stationed in Tucson itself?

LD –Yes.

TC –Who was the Chief then?

LD –I had seven while I was there. I started out with Bill Yeager.

TC –Tell me about Walter Miller. You said you interviewed him for the Sector history.

LD –I wish I could remember everything he said you know.

TC –What kind of a man was he? He was retired then?

LD –Right he was retired but he had a memory that I wish I had now. He could remember every person who had been employed at that time and why each station was placed where it was and the complement, he could tell you how many automobiles the station had and how many horses. For the history I wasn’t interested in personal histories at the time but I wish I had been because I should have put down some of the things he told me.

TC –He was retired there in Tucson?

LD –He was retired there in Tucson.

TC –Was he old at the time you –

LD –Right. He was probably in his 70’s.

TC –And he died when?

LD –That I can’t tell you I don’t know.

TC –He had been Chief at Tucson.

LD –He was the first Chief at Tucson.

TC –Had he been a river rider or border rider?

LD –He had been a Chinese Inspector. He told me stories about these Chinese smuggling cases that they made back before the formation of the Border Patrol.

TC –Was he a tall man a handsome man?

LD –He was a good-looking man. As I recall he stood about five foot probably nine or ten inches tall. Of course now he might have been taller than that at an earlier age too.

TC –And he had clear recall?

LD –Tremendous it really amazed me the memory that he had. He had a better memory at his age than I had and I was a young man and I didn’t have that kind of memory.

TC –Who were some of the characters you worked with?

LD –Characters? Ooph. Sam McKone. I would have to put him up
there. H.K.Nettle.

TC –Tell me about Nettle.

LD –Well I didn’t know Nettle until I became Assistant Chief at Port Isabel.

TC –Oh that was after Tucson?

LD –Well I quit flying at Tucson. I went chasing around sitting in one of these dentist chairs. But I was Assistant Chief at Port Isabel and Nettle was Senior at Galveston. And that’s how I got to know him. I had known him by reputation only until that time.

TC –What did you do at Port Isabel? You were Assistant Chief?

LD –I was Assistant Chief. Dave Blackwell was the Chief.

TC –Is that when that was the Sector?

LD –Yes.

TC –Or was it the Academy?

LD –The Academy was there also. So was the District the Port Isabel District.

TC –So you were Assistant Chief under Dave Blackwell?

LD –Yes.

TC –Did you teach at the Academy?

LD –No. I think I probably lectured a couple of times but that was it.

TC –From Tucson you went to Port Isabel?

LD –Yes

TC –Who was Chief there then?

LD – Jim Kelly was first and then he transferred to Tucson and Speedy Williams was the Chief.

TC –How long were you there?

LD –Six years.

TC –And then you went to Port Isabel. Did you retire from Port Isabel?

LD –No I was Deputy at McAllen when I retired.

TC –Deputy under who?

LD –Tommy Ball.

TC –So your career made a great big geographical circle.

LD –I started at McAllen and ended there.

TC –When did you retire?

LD –I think it was the 17th of December of 1977.

TC –So you were in almost thirty years.

LD –Right.

TC –Can you remember any funny stories or stories about these characters?

LD –There were a lot of characters. The NcAllen station when I was there was a bunch of characters. We had one there, I can’t remember his name right at the moment, that was constantly in trouble you know. He was a living legend. I’m sure his file was a foot thick. Just right now I can’t think of any.

TC -We have a memo out there from Nettle about a cabbage smuggling case. I forget where it came from but it’s hilarious.

LD –You know I wonder if somebody filched that off me because I haven’t been able to find that. I had a number of them. One of them was an investigation he conducted on an automobile accident up in Houston where Tex Lorphing was involved in some accident. It was probably as fine a letter as I ever saw.

TC -: He had a sense of humor.

LD –: He did.

TC –When did he die? He got to retire?

LD – Right. He was a northern Minnesota individual you know and he went back up to the piney woods of northern Minnesota when he retired. He wasn’t in the best of health when he retired. But what he died of I don’t know. Nobody ever saw him after he got up there except Balentine I guess. There’s one you ought to interview sometime.

TC –Balentine?

LD –Yes. Jim Balentine. He commutes between south Texas and northern Michigan. He’s the one that will remember all the humorous stories. McKone would too. Have you ever interviewed McKone?

TC –He interviewed himself kind of. But he writes me the funniest letters.

LD –I know he sent me a copy of what he sent you.


Transcribed by Roberta Shasteen on March 8 1990.
Edited by Terrie Cornell March 20 1990.

Mike Maffeo

Mr. Maffeo entered the U.S. Border Patrol in February 15 1941 and was a member of the 8th Training Session at El Paso Texas . Some of his classmates were James Bunner Albert Conway Bill Davis Lenord Gilman and Gordon Pettingill. In his interview Mr. Maffeo only mentioned in passing his experience as an Instructor at the various Border Patrol Academies. His pears however and all of his students would acknowledge his outstanding abilities as a Spanish language instructor and his contribution to many successful careers. Interview was conducted at the Border Patrol Museum on September 4 1986 by Ms. Terrie Cornell.

MM – I came into the Border Patrol in February 1941 and worked on the river for two months before I went to the Academy. I went to the eighth training session of the Academy.

TC – Do you have your picture?

MM – Yes I do have a class picture. You don’t have the eighth one? I’ll send you a copy.

TC – Oh great. What day in 1941?

MM – February 15 1941 and I went to the Academy in March of that same year. After that I just worked on the river you know line watch until that summer. We had a camp at Ft. Stanton where we kept all the sailors off the steamship Columbus that they scuttled of the coast of South America.

TC – I thought the Brits got the Germans off the ship?

MM – I don’t know who got them off. We eventually got custody of them here via San Francisco. I think they came from San Francisco to Ft. Stanton. We rode herd on them up there for quite a little while. I think that Jake Longan was going to leave the pictures we used to use for ID up there.

TC – We have he whole box.

MM – It is great that you have the pictures for the museum. We used them twice daily to check each detainee in camp. The pictures were arranged in the order that each subject sat at the dinner table. It was easy to check each able at dinner and breakfast. If a seat were vacant we would have to check the sick bay or the hospital. If the man was not sick we would then check the various details where he might be working. We had a horse patrol every morning and evening to sign-cut and check the fence. The horse patrol covered about twelve miles around the perimeter of the camp. We also patrolled all the highways near there both night and day.

TC – Then you must have known Ben Powell. He lives down in Fabens and he came in and brought a bunch of his own personal snapshots.

MM – Yes I knew Ben. He’ still here?

TC – Oh yes he’ still here. How long were you there?

MM – We would stay a month at a time there. We went up in three month intervals. We stayed in barracks and ate in our own mess hall. We had a pretty good cowboy cook whose specialty was stew. He also made good biscuits. My first detail to the camp started on June 15 1941. My second detail started on November 1 1941. Senior Patrol Inspectors in Charge were Tom Linnenkohl and Shelley Barnes.

And then of course came Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and we immediately went to White Sulphur Springs West Virginia.

TC – I must have a picture of you then. I’ll get the pictures out that Ben gave us. He took a lot of pictures. You went there?

MM – To White Sulphur Springs. We left El Paso on December 19 1941 en route to White Sulphur Springs WV. We arrived there on the 23rd. All of the alien enemy diplomats and their staffs were being kept there awaiting their return to their home countries. Each time that the exchange ship the Gripsholm came to New York we would take a train load up there so they could be put on the ship for its return to Europe. The ship was painted white and it sailed with its lights on for assured recognition. At the Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs we had sentry boxes located at strategic points so that all entries and departures could be checked. At the less strategic points we had sentry boxes manned by local guards that were hired there.

TC – And it took fourteen months to do that?

MM – Fourteen months to do all that. And then we were not through because we moved some of them down to Asheville North Carolina. We kept some there for quite a little while in the Grove Park Inn.

TC – Did you go down there?

MM – Yes. I went down there for a couple of months.

TC – Was that as swanky a hotel as the White Sulphur Springs?

MM – Just as swanky yes it was a great big place. It had a fireplace as big as that wall there. They used to have a little donkey come in and they would harness him to pull the logs up on a pulley arrangement so that they could be swung into the fireplace.

TC – Were you married at that time?

MM – No.

TC – Gee what fun.

MM – Oh it was a great detail. You know when I came into the Border Patrol I was just an old country boy and I didn’t know there was such a thing as a coffee break. I worked in the mines in Bisbee and then I taught school over there for a while but I never knew anybody took a coffee break. I joined the Border Patrol here and the Assistant Chief one day said “lets go uptown for a cup of coffee.” I said “We’re supposed to be working.” He said “You’re supposed to drink coffee twice a day once in the morning and once in the afternoon.” I didn’t know that.

TC – Where were you born and raised?

MM – Morenci Arizona.

TC – When did your parents go out here?

MM – My dad came from Italy in 1884 to Bisbee.

TC – To the mines?

MM – His father did. My father was just a baby when he came.

TC – How interesting.

MM – My parents were married in Bisbee AZ. They spent about twenty-five years in Morenci. That is where I grew up and finished high school. I have the distinction of having been born in the Territory of Arizona. It was admitted to Statehood eleven days after my birthday.

TC – And then you taught school for awhile?

MM – After I graduated from school there were no jobs.

TC – Did you go to college?

MM – Yes. Arizona University. That’s how come I came into the Border Patrol. So when I finished college I couldn’t get a job and I went to work in the mines in Ajo. Then I came to Bisbee and worked in the mines. I went underground there and I didn’t like that underground work. So this job came up as a school teacher so I went to work as a school teacher in a little country school in Pearce Arizona. It’s like Wilcox the largest town close to it. The pay was $1100 a year for ten months of teaching. And the Border Patrol came out with an ad for $2000 a year so I thought that’s for me. I had taken a lot of exams so I thought well I’ll go down and take that one. They asked me if I would take an appointment before I knew what I had made on the examination. I said sure. You know I jumped from $1100 to $2000 that was sure a big jump. That’s how come I got in the Border Patrol.

TC – And you were a single man then that was really riches.

MM – Yes I didn’t want to be anything else but a Border Patrolman after a couple of months on the job. Oh it was terrific.

TC – It paid so well.

MM – Yes it paid so well and the work was so interesting. We worked with a great bunch of guys whose morale and esprit de corps was always tops. Some days the work was easy and we would have our coffee breaks but the night shifts on the river and line watch were something else. We would wear warm clothing and carry heavy blankets to sit on and wrap up in. There was a lot of liquor smuggling in those days. There was always a lot of activity around what was then known as Cordova Island. At that time Cordova Island was the part of Mexico that was on this side of the Rio Grande. If Darbeyshire Steel Mfg. Co. is still in El Paso the northwest corner of Cordova Island would be just across the road from their shops.

TC – And then you got these cushy assignments.

MM – Cushy assignments yes. They called me “Per Diem Maffeo” for quite awhile because I was gone so much. O.K. then after that detail in Grove Park Inn.

TC – How many aliens did you move down there would you guess?

MM – It would just be a guess I would say four hundred.

TC – Four hundred!

MM – Yes we had that Greenbriar Hotel full. I don’t know how may we had in there at the time.

TC – And these were people that had been in the Greenbriar for fourteen months?

MM – Some of them were and some you see they had the Grove Park Inn the Greenbriar Hotel and Hot Springs West Virginia. The spa there. That hotel over there was full for a time too.

TC – This is the whole household of these families right. Their nannies cooks and whatever?

MM – Everybody The staffs all went there too.

TC – Did they bring more people in during the was?

MM – Yes they picked them up in South America and brought them up here.

TC – Who picked them up in South America? Other Countries?

MM – No I think our State Department picked them up and made arrangements to bring them up here to make the exchange because see they were our allies in South America.

TC – So you were constantly getting new prisoners?

MM – Yes.

TC – Moving them down to North Carolina must have been exiting. Guarding them?

MM – Oh you put them on the train and man each end of the Pullman car. You know first class. They were all used to first class treatment.

TC – Did any of them try to bribe you to stay here?

MM – No not me personally. But they did some of the officers. I never had any contact with any of them who came up and offered.

On another detail they attached us to an army group let’s see a National Guard outfit – somewhere back there that was still in the country. They had the submarine scare on the coast at that time and the army wanted some Immigration Officers to work with their patrols in case they picked up somebody to help find out if they were aliens. So we got to ride the beaches out there with the army for a couple or three months and I asked to get back to El Paso since it was my official station.

TC – Did you enjoy the beach patrol?

MM – Well yes but we had to live in army tents.

TC – What time of year was It?

MM – Let’s see I returned to El Paso in January so it must have been in December of 1942.

TC – Was there a submarine or just a scare?

MM – Well it was just a scare. They thought the submarines had come in where the water was shallow and dropped people off - spies and so forth and they waded in.

TC – But they had not done that?

MM – But during the war they picked up the Japanese you know and picked up their staffs and put them in internment camps. There was an internment camp out here at Lordsburg.

TC – At Lordsburg? Did you get out there?

MM – I was stationed at Lordsburg. When I came back from this detail they sent me out to Lordsburg. That was ‘43 then when I came back. See ‘42 had gone by and I came back here and went to Lordsburg.

TC – I haven’t heard anybody talk about that camp.

MM – Yes the camp was about six miles southeast of Lordsburg. We used to do a lot of fingerprinting out there.

TC – And there were only Japanese in that camp? How many would you guess were there?

MM – Two or three hundred. I stayed there until June. I thought the way the war was going over in Europe I thought it was almost over and I wanted to have a veteran status when the war was over. So I didn’t ask for our blanket deferment - the blanket determent we would get every time we would get a call from the draft board. We would just call the Chief and of course he had a blanket deferment for us. It came out of Washington. But I didn’t take my deferment that time and the war was not over and I ended up with three years in the infantry.

TC— You were drafted?

MM – Yes.

TC – And when did you go in the army?

MM – In June of 1943 until the war was over until January of ‘46. See I was in ‘43 a half year and then ‘44 and all of ‘45. Two and a half years in the Service.
TC – Where were you stationed then

MM – They sent us to New Zealand as replacements in the 25thd Division. Then we came to New Caledonia and we trained there for another nine months. We made a practice landing on Guadalcanal and made the real landing on Luzon. But we had dress rehearsal on Guadalcanal and then we had opening night on Luzon. We fought on Luzon for six months then went to Japan for occupation for three months and then came home.

TC – And you still weren’t married?

MM – No not until I came back to the States.

TC – I’m jumping ahead of you - how interesting. So you had both the Border Patrol and the army during World War II. The best of both worlds.

MM – You might say.

TC – O.K. then pick up after the war.

MM – After the war? I came back and the Chief said where do you want to go? I said I want to go back to Lordsburg. I loved it there it was so close to my home and dad was a contractor and of course on my two days off I could always moonlight with him for the income. So I stayed in Lordsburg for six months after the war. They called me into El Paso one day. They said send Mike in to talk about a possible transfer so they sent me in here and the Chief said “We want to send you up to Albuquerque.” I said “I don’t want to go to Albuquerque.” He said “you know Mike a single man who would rather live in Lordsburg than Albuquerque I couldn’t recommend him for promotion.” So I told him as long as he had explained the benefits to me I’d go to Albuquerque. So I went up to Albuquerque and that is where I met my wife. We were married in ‘47 in Albuquerque and honeymooned upstairs in this hotel.

TC – What did you do in Albuquerque?

MM – In the Border Patrol. We checked freight trains and checked the beet fields in Colorado. We had a road block in Trinidad. Of course all those freight trains went through Belen which is 25 miles this side of Albuquerque.

At Belen that reminds me when I first came into the Border Patrol I put truck driver down as one of my occupations before I came into the Border Patrol and they sent me to Belen to move a man back to El Paso for transferring back to El Paso. I went up in the truck and stayed in the hotel that night and the next morning I went over to his house and told him I was there to move him and that was the first indication he had that he was going to be transferred when I showed up.

TC – Oh this is a Border Patrolman you were moving?

MM – Yes.

TC – He didn’t know he was being transferred until the moving van showed up at his door?

MM – Yes. He was excited and he called on the telephone and finally he said yes I guess I am transferred.

TC – Do you know who that was?

MM – His name is Dennis Wolstenholme. Dennis and I had breakfast a couple of weeks ago and he reminded me of that incident. The man Parks was transferring in to be an Immigrant Inspector so the move was no surprise to him. Dennis later became a Chief and was stationed in Tucson. If you ever have the opportunity to interview him you will get some truly interesting stories.

TC – You only did that one time?

MM – No I did it another time. I went to Fabens down here to move a man named Dayton Tuck in this old flat rack Chevrolet truck you know. His wife said “you know my refrigerator is brand new and I don’t want anything to happen to that. Are you sure you can move it out?” I said “well your husband can help. We can wrap it up in quilts and so forth and we will tie it up in the truck and nothing should happen to it.” O.K. so we were tooling off down the road to Ft. Hancock (he was going to be moved to Ft. Hancock) and the road was kind of rough. He was following the truck and the car started to honk and I looked back. The truck had been bouncing and the top of that refrigerator bounced off and fell off on the pavement. By the time I got back there it was one of those old enamel jobs and the enamel was still crinkling off of that refrigerator. He said “Oh I’ve got to tell my wife what happened. She sure is going to be mad at me.”

TC – How long were you stationed in Albuquerque?

MM – Two years. And then I came down here to El Paso transferred to El Paso. That’s when they asked me if I wanted to be an instructor in the Academy. And I didn’t want to. But it was a two-grade jump and a promotion and I was married then and settled down.

TC – You didn’t want to though.

MM – Not really. You know I really enjoyed patrol work even in spite of the fact that it was shift work. But anyway the Academy was straight days and had its advantages.

TC – But you missed the line watch being outside?

MM – Oh I missed it yes.

TC – So you taught from what ‘49?

MM – Let’s see from ‘49 to 55.

TC – Can you give me the locations of the Academy in those years?

MM – In ‘49 it was down here at Camp Chigas. Then in 1950 we were on detail down to McAllen Texas and had it down there two sessions I think and then we came back here.

TC – A session would have been how long?

MM – A session was six weeks. And they ran two classes at a time. Two Spanish classes and two law classes. There were about a hundred in each session.

TC – About a hundred in the two classes together.

MM – Yes. At that time. Then we went to McAllen in ‘50 and again in ‘52. In between we had it here at Camp Chigas.

TC – O.K. Do you know why they moved down to McAllen?

MM – They had such a big class down there and they were putting so many on down there they didn’t want to pay them per diem to send them up here on detail to go to school.

TC – So they took the school to them.

MM – They took the school to them you see. In ‘52 we went to Las Cruces for a couple of sessions. Wait let me take that back. We went out here to the Radford School for girls for one session. We ran a school once out there.

TC – This would have been about 1952? Would that have been in the summer?

MM – Yes.

TC – And then Las Cruces.

MM – And then Las Cruces. We had two sessions up at Las Cruces at the New Mexico Agricultural College.

TC – Do you have pictures of all this?

MM – I don’t think so. There are some - there were class pictures. From NMSU then we came back to Ft. Bliss. We had an old WAC quarters out there, so we had a nice area out there. We kind of changed it around a bit to make class rooms out of some of the parts of it. I taught the two sessions there. And that’s when I left the Academy in ‘56.

TC – So you were seven years altogether in the Academy? You taught Spanish?

MM – Yes Spanish and some Nationality law but mostly Spanish.

TC – And then what did you do?

MM – I transferred to Tucson and was an Anti-Smuggling officer at that time.

TC – And that’s why you retired there? You spent the rest of your career there?

MM – Yes in Tucson

TC – When did you retire?

MM – In 1972 July 15.

TC – Goodness you were there a long time.

MM – Yes half of my Border Patrol career was in Tucson. Thirty-two years credit I had for pension computation including military.

TC – Who did you work under at Tucson?

MM – Let’ see the first Chief I worked under there was Wolstenholme and Henry Stallings was Assistant Chief. Then Wolstenholme was replaced by Hensley. Then Hensley was replaced by Bruce Long. And then after Bruce Long was Jim Kelley. Jim Kelley was Chief when I retired. But during that hitch in Tucson I transferred to Investigations for two years. I was an Investigator in Tucson.

TC – Do you have any good stories from that?

MM – No not really. It was one of those deals where we were all upgraded the Anti-smuggling officers were all upgraded and took charge of prosecutions. That was Investigations territory and they didn’t like it when we were upgraded because some of their Investigators were waiting for promotions. It wasn’t a great two years as far as I’m concerned because when the opportunity came to go back to the Patrol I did right quick. My partner was shot one night.

TC – Killed?

MM – Yes.

TC – Who was that?

MM – Bill Phillips an Investigator.

TC – How did that happen?

MM – He had a warrant for this guy’s arrest and the guy was living with a family in south Tucson and we went down there early one morning to see if we could catch him. He was just leaving the house and we had to chase him in the car and we chased him all over south Tucson and he finally ended up going right back to the house again. He jumped out of the car and ran in the house and slammed the door and Bill was chasing him and then Bill went around to one of the windows to see if he could see him and he shot him through the window. Bill couldn’t shoot back because there were kids in the house.

TC – And he was killed right there? How sad.

MM – Yes. And Bill was a Border Patrolman before he went to Investigations so I don’t know if he is listed with Border Patrol casualties or not.

TC – Did you get the guy who killed him?

MM – Eventually yes. We had to go to Mexico City. They caught him in Mexico City and so we went to Mexico City and testified against him. The Mexicans wanted the gun and we were bringing the gun to Mexico City and not let any of their Customs people en route know that we had the gun. Naturally by this time the FBI was deeply involved in the investigation and were very helpful in arranging our passage to Mexico City because one of their Agents was going with us. The subject Jesus Leon-Reynaga was sentenced to prison. It was a Military type prison. Later in an escape attempt he was shot and killed.

TC – Your exciting details happened early in your career and then after that you settled down.

MM – Yes. Those were nice details. We didn’t fly in those days we went on the train every place. When we went from here to White Sulphur Springs they had sent me to Arizona on detail and called me back from Arizona and I did have time to come back here and store my car and get on the train and there were five of us went back on this detail. They detailed us out so fast we had a private car all the way to St. Louis. –

TC – To go to White Sulphur Springs. Do you remember who the five were?

MM – Let’s see Jimmy Smith Leighton St. Clair Thomason Ben Powell and me is that five of us?

TC – And you had a private car.

MM – After I retired I went to work for Pima County State of Arizona as a property appraiser. I worked mainly with ranches and their properties. After that I substituted in the school system in Tucson for a couple of sessions as a school teacher and then quit altogether.

TC – Are you traveling around now?

MM – Not a whole lot. We take a couple of trips a year but I spend most of my time hiking in the mountains. I keep in pretty good shape. So that’s it. I can’t think of anything else.

Original transcription by Roberta N. Shasteen on February 1 1990

Mrs. N. Franklin (Sarah) Davidson

Interview of Mrs. N. Franklin (Sarah) Davidson by her son Chandler Davidson Professor of Sociology at Rice University Houston Texas July 16 1988 at Mrs. Davidsons home in Houston Texas.

This interview is about the life of Mrs. Sarah Davidson as the wife of N. Franklin Davidson especially during his years in the U.S. Immigration Service.

Mr. Davidson entered the U.S. Border Patrol in October 1942 as a member of the 19th session at El Paso Texas.

CD: Where and when did dad first join the Service? And what were the events leading up to that?

SD: He joined the Service in St. Louis. He took the exam for Border Patrolman when he was working for the Department of Agriculture as a Meat Inspector. That was so definitely a step up that he was delighted to get the opportunity to take the test. He had wanted to be in the Border Patrol for a long time and hadn’t had the opportunity to take the examination so when he saw an ad in a post office saying they were giving the test at a certain place at a certain time he made arrangements to be there. When he took the test he thought he has surely failed because he didn’t even answer two thirds of the questions but it turned out –

CD: Why did he not answer two-thirds of the questions?

SD: He ran out of time. He was violently ill and had to leave the room to be ill because he was so excited about getting to take the test. And when he got back and was preparing to go ahead with answering the questions the person in charge said “That’s all.” He said that he couldn’t possibly have passed. Actually, the very opposite happened; he made something in the 90’s – 96 I think. Undoubtedly, they graded it on the curve and he didn’t have to count those that he didn’t even answer. But he made an extremely good grade and that was just the beginning of it though of course. It had to go through channels and get him from St. Louis to El Paso which took almost a whole year. CD: When did he get to El Paso? SD: In October of ‘42.

CD: What did he do when he was in El Paso?

SD: He went to the first Border Patrol School after his entry there. I think the date of his entry was October 12th. I can’t remember whether the next school was before Christmas or shortly thereafter but he went to the first school after that and was registered with the Patrol there in El Paso all this time. After he had finished the school and been in El Paso a few months he was transferred to Lordsburg New Mexico where he stayed for the next ten years almost.

CD: I see. Wasn’t there a period where he went into the Marines after he had joined the Immigration Service?

SD: Yes there surely was. After he had been in Lordsburg several months he received notice that he had been drafted. When he went to present himself the Marines chose him so he was a Marine for a little over a year. Never did he go overseas but he was always in school in the Marines and was finally discharged with bad legs.

CD: And then he came back to Lordsburg?

SD: Came back to Lordsburg and resumed his job there where we stayed as I said for a good many years.

CD: and then from Lordsburg he went to –

SD: He went to Ysleta and were there a few years during which time he taught sometimes at the Border Patrol Academy sometimes Spanish and sometimes Law. After that we were in Fort Hancock for the two years that you were duty bound to go to a hardship station which that was because they had bad water you had to haul in water. He was Senior over there though and we had a very happy time in Fort Hancock.

CD: And then where did you go?

SD: He was transferred back to El Paso so we have always been in the Southwest. After he had been there several years he had two heart attacks and that was the cause of his early retirement. He had been in 25 years.

CD: So he retired what year do you remember?

SD: It was ‘67 on his birthday November 23rd.

CD: And from there where did you go?

SD: That was the end of his Border Patrol career which is of interest.

CD: And after that?

SD: After that we went to the Hill Country and bought ourselves the most beautiful little home and had the most fun on the lakes. We were there for almost 20 years and he died there in ‘85 after many happy years there. We had a good life.

CD: Well let me talk a little bit about your life as the wife of a Border Patrolman and let’s begin by going back to those early days. Your first duty station was Lordsburg. Tell me a little about your family and about your experiences there in Lordsburg.

SD: We had two boys when we went to Lordsburg three when we left
and the two boys were Chandler and Phillip. Chandler was in – I guess the first grade but school was almost out that first year. And of course, Phil was just a little toddler. We enjoyed being out in that kind of station because that’s the kind of life I had always led a country girl.

CD: Where did you originally grow up?

SD: Oh I grew up in Mitchell County near Colorado City Texas which is really prime West Texas territory.

CD: So it wasn’t all that much different in terms of climate.

SD: No even the climate absolutely. It was very similar to what I had been accustomed to all my life.

CD: So tell us a little about the climate out there the weather and the kinds of situations that you found yourself in.

SD: Alright I loved the desert. It was dry of course a lot of the time but we did have an occasional rain and sometimes gully washers but I liked it all. The temperature was nice because in the evenings it would always get cool in the summer. The altitude was high.

CD: How about the dust storms?

SD: Oh we had those too and I had been used to them in Texas so I knew where they came from and where they were going. But they were bad. It was cold in the winter in Lordsburg but not terribly cold because it is southern New Mexico of course. There was snow sometimes most every year it snowed somewhere around there.

CD: Who were some of the people in Dad’s duty station there and their wives? Who were your early friends there in Lordsburg?

SD: Oh yes. The first person in Lordsburg that we came to know was E. Keith McDonald the Senior the Station Senior as they called him. But he was soon replaced by Eldon Taylor who was the Station Senior almost all the time we were there. And there were the Marbrys – Lucille and Paul; and Mike Maffeo and of course Eldon and Sally Taylor the ones in charge. And then different people came and went. There were the Wolstenholmes and that’s all I recall right at this minute although I know there were two or three more.

CD: Were the people in the Border Patrol a fairly close-knit group of people?

SD: Yes they were and they were accepted very readily even though the farmers sometimes were at odds with the Patrolmen. But everyone just accepted us girls just as though we were top-grade stuff and we were in the Border Patrol because our husbands were smarter than average we thought.

CD: What were the usual duty routines of the husbands and how did that affect your life?

SD: They were usually on eight-hour shifts but sometimes they had to be on call for any time during the twenty-four hours if they were needed and they were supposed to be ready to go. Many times they were called up at night but not often. They inspected the trains as they came through for alien riders. Then they would ride out in the Patrol cars in the day time and try to apprehend aliens who were working in the countryside on ranches or farms or whatever and of course the hunting of aliens was so good in those days that hardly a day passed that they did not go into El Paso to transport aliens to Headquarters. For several years they were going into El Paso all the time to take aliens. They sure had a lot to contend with.

CD: How far was that trip from Lordsburg to El Paso?

SD: It seems to me that it was about 165 miles. I may be wrong but it was a long way.

CD: That was highway 80 back in those days wasn’t it? A two-lane highway?

SD: Yes, and there were more accidents on that straight uncluttered road than you ever saw. But the boys never were involved that I know of in anything serious anyway. But how did it affect us? Why we accepted it as part of life and that was just all there was to it. There was nothing to worry about and lots of times it was interesting and exciting you know. But they never did tell us very much about their business. They knew better I guess.

CD: Well did they consider it to be a dangerous occupation?

SD: If they did it didn’t seem to matter in any way except jumping around on the trains that was the worst thing. There was an accident or two I don’t believe any Border Patrolman but a railroad detective or someone had an accident either falling from a train or a train hitting him and so they had to be very careful of that. I think that did give them a little bit of worry. But no nobody was very much worried about the law part of it the part in which guns were shot and people were killed I don’t think that ever happened in our area.

CD: How was life for you and the children so far as this small-town life and the kinds of things that went on back in those days?

SD: It was interesting. It was nice because I had grown up in the
church and I immediately began going to church and taking the little boys. We just fitted right in wherever we went. The kids were popular in school and smart and did everything that was expected of them. But of course Dad would always be sent out of town on a detail just when they were getting ready to participate in a band concert or a track meet or something so he hardly ever got to be there.

CD: What did these details involve?

SD: They were more or less I think “sweeps” where they would go to maybe the lower Rio Grande Valley and every available Patrolman would get out and scour the countryside and try to apprehend the aliens. And they were very successful. And once Frank had to go to California and I am not sure but I think he almost missed our oldest son’s graduation. Now this was after we moved but something always happened. Do you remember if Dad did get special dispensation to go to your graduation?

CD: No I don’t remember.

SD: Well I think he did get to attend but he had to have a special permit because then he went and joined the detail that was involved in swinging around and sweeping up aliens.

CD: Didn’t he at one time also take part in the Japanese relocation camps?

SD: Yes that was a part of his duty in I believe that was ‘46.

CD: After the war?

SD: Yes. There were several Border Patrolmen assigned to the Tule Lake camp for those Japanese citizens. Actually they were citizens of the United States but they were under surveillance all this time. He had a pretty good time up there. They were nice to him and I don’t think they were cruel to the prisoners but they were prisoners which wasn’t really right I don’t think.

CD: And so how long was he up there?

SD: Oh I don’t know just a matter of weeks or months. I can’t even guess but it wasn’t very long not anything like a year or six months.

CD: So it was expected that every once in a while he would have to be gone from home a few weeks and the wife would be on her own.

SD: Yes she would be on her own and invariably one of the kids would have a sickness of some kind that Mama was pretty apprehensive about but nothing too serious ever happened. I guess if anything very serious had happened we could have called him back. We were used to that; it was something that we accepted kids as well as I.

CD: And you say that the wives were fairly close. They socialized with each other and helped each other out?

SD: Yes we all visited compared notes and enjoyed each others presence. They were all pretty similar in their upbringing because one requirement for the Border Patrol in those days was that you had been involved in something that kept you outdoors for the past two years or I don’t know for what period of time. But people who worked outside were going to be Border Patrolmen. Of course Frank was a rancher his father was a rancher and that’s what he was putting as his background because he had been a cowboy for a good many years on his father’s ranch. So they all were outdoors men and many of them had been in I suppose police departments some sort of law enforcement so we all had a fairly common background.

CD: How did the Border Patrol get along with the other law enforcement agencies in the little towns where they worked?

SD: Just fine in both the places that I was very familiar with. In Lordsburg they were just buddy-buddy with the Highway Patrol the New Mexico Highway Patrol and –

CD: Who was that do you remember who that was the Patrolman who was there when you were there?

SD: Yes everybody knew Johnny Bradford and he was later to become head man of that organization.

CD: The Chief of Police of the State of New Mexico?

SD: Yes absolutely and we were all good friend with him and his wife Margaret.

CD: You mentioned Eldon Taylor’s name a few minutes ago. What was his wife’s name?

SD: Sally and Sally is still one of my good friends. Incidentally she’s working here for the Museum.

CD: And who are some of the other wives that you knew back in those days?

SD: I failed to mention the Steeles a while ago – Margaret and Chuck Steele and Pat Wolstenholme and –

CD: How about the Wischkaempers?

SD: I forgot to mention the Wischkaempers because for about a year
they were out of Lordsburg and I guess I was trying to remember who was there at that time. But yes Tony Wischkaemper and Wisch Richard were very good friends of ours. The whole business — we were just as friendly as could be.

CD: What were Dad’s duties when you were transferred to El Paso in 1952?

SD: Well he was still just apprehending aliens. He was a Border Patrolman. But sometime I don’t know when it would have been he was involved with the Border Patrol Academy as I said in different capacities. This was in the late ‘50s or early ‘60s.

CD: You had said that he had taught Spanish there and that he had also taught Law there. How did he learn Spanish and Law?

SD: He had to learn those two subjects and take a test on them before he ever got into the Border Patrol. That was his probationary year he had a year to learn Border Patrol Law and also Spanish. Of course I was a pretty good Spanish speaker myself and I helped him.

CD: You already spoke Spanish?

SD: Well not fluently but I had had three years in high school and one in college so I knew a little bit about basic grammar.

CD: So the two of you worked together at home?

SD: Yes and he also had help from his Border Patrol friends some of whom had lived in Mexico. The first man who was his senior there Keith McDonald (they were Mormons and they had lived in Mexico) spoke Spanish wonderfully well. So I don’t know whether Keith helped Dad much or not because I don’t believe, no that was before he got in but there were a lot of Border Patrolmen who knew Spanish from their childhood.

CD: And how about Law?

SD: Law was hard.

CD: Did you help him with that too?

SD: Well I read out the questions and listened to his answers and looked them up. But yes I helped him in a way I suppose. But he had also attended lectures on it.

CD: Who were some of the people then that you were friendly with in El Paso?

SD: I am trying to think. Some of the ones I remember lived near us and those were named: Skid and Penny Rogers and Dale Morris and
his wife. I can’t remember very many people because in a big station like El Paso you do not get to know intimately so many of your husband’s associates’ wives as you did in a small place like Lordsburg. So I never did know too many people with whom he worked in El Paso. But after all we were there I guess ten years so I should have known more than I did perhaps.

CD: You knew the Turners didn’t you?

SD: Oh Bill and Sue Turner our very best friends of course. And I can find in my mind a lot of names if I were prepared.

CD: What were some of the duties there in El Paso were they
pretty much the same as in Lordsburg – just on a larger scale?

SD: Yes they would inspect busses to find where the aliens were coming in or if they were coming in. Also they rode around out in the hinterlands and apprehended aliens who were working illegally. Just the same duties as anywhere except the milieu was a little bit different. Also there were specialized duties as I said about the school. You could sometimes get just a short shift of teaching out there which Dad did two or three times.

CD: You said you lived where when you were in El Paso?

SD: We lived down in Miller’s Lakeside which was right on the river and boy that was a place where the men had to patrol because the river was so accessible. They could just walk across it in many places or they might have to wade across it but it was easy to get in down there so there was always somebody on the border there.

CD: And you had had a third son while you were in Lordsburg.

SD: Yes we surely had. He was born in 1949 and I don’t suppose he remembers much about New Mexico not nearly as much as he does El Paso.

CD: This is Tony?

SD: That’s Tony our youngest and he was the last one of the family to graduate from Ysleta High School. All three boys graduated there.

CD: At some point you said you had gone to Fort Hancock. When was that?

SD: That was after well let’s see it was about 1958 or 1959 I guess 1958.

CD: How long did you live there?

SD: Two years.

CD: How was living in Fort Hancock?

SD: It was nice. We had a nice house to live in and a pretty desert-like area. But the water was bad and it had to be hauled in to drink and we also had to do our laundry somewhere else because the water wasn’t any good to do even your clothes in. But we enjoyed it there. That was Frank’s first and only station where he was the Senior so he enjoyed it too. And there were I believe five people among whom were the Adamzcks and the Reeves Harold Reeves and his wife Phyllis. Off hand I can’t just say who the other three were but I’ll think of them. Penter Nat and Lois.

CD: After your two years there you moved back to El Paso?

SD: Yes he was transferred back to El Paso and did essentially the same work as before. Of course this all entailed making detailed records of everybody you apprehended and the paper work was rather cumbersome or troublesome but that is some part of police work that always bugs people who participate in it.

CD: Well looking back on your life as a Border Patrolman’s wife would you recommend it to other wives whose husbands are thinking about going into the Service?

SD: It would be very hard for me to make any kind of a statement as to that because things have changed so much in the Patrol. At least this is what I understand. I thought that everything was great then and I don’t think that everything is quite so great now as far as the duties of the men and their abilities and so forth. So I wouldn’t make much judgment. Although I think any wife would be happy to go wherever her husband had work. Now that’s another thing – it might be a lot easier to find work like this than it was back in the days when I was a Border Patrol wife because you were really among the few.

CD: That was just shortly after the depression when you all went into it.

SD: Yes absolutely we had hardly gotten out of the depression. I believe that Dad’s first salary for the whole year was $2000 when we went in.

CD: And that was considered a princely sum wasn’t it?

SD: Oh my we had been living on $1625 so it was fine.

CD: And one other thing I wanted you to talk a little about – when you were in Lordsburg you also did some work of your own didn’t you?

SD: Yes I taught school as a substitute for a couple of years before our last child was born. And also I was elected to the School Board. And Dad was selected as a member of the Draft Board so the ones that we didn’t get in school we got in the draft. No I’m joking there was nothing personal about it. But it was an interesting life.

CD: Well thank you very much.
SD: I’ve enjoyed it.

Transcribed by Bernice Maggio and edited by Terrie Cornell May 1990 Re-edited by Mrs. Davidson and T. Cornell July 1990.


Mrs. Roland A (Lettie) Fleagle

Mrs. Lettie Fleagle is the widow of Border Patrol Inspector Roland A. Fleagle who entered the Border Patrol as a member of the 7th Session during February and March 1941. Mr. Fleagle passed away on December 2 1985.

Mrs. Fleagle was interviewed at her home by a member of the University 0f Texas at El Paso Institute of Oral History on an unspecified date in 1987.

Her story tells of the hardships suffered by wives and children of Border Patrol Inspectors in the early years beginning in 1941.

This is Lettie Fleagle. My husband was Roland A. Fleagle and he entered the Immigration Border Patrol in November 1940. I don’t remember when he took the written Civil Service examination but I am sure he took that before he got out of the Marine Corps in July 1949.

I do remember when he took his physical examination in July 1940. He had to report to the San Diego Naval Hospital to take this examination. At that time he was working for the Armored Transport in Los Angeles and making $127.50 a month. He worked 8—hour days six days a week and was underweight. An ex-Marine buddy of his I believe his name was Don Utterback that worked for armored transport also had applied for the Immigration Border Patrol and went down ahead of Roland and took his examination. And when he came back he told Roland about the qualifications. He said you had to weigh at least 140 pounds and Roland at that time weighed barely 130. So Roland was worried about how he was going to pass his physical examination and put on 10 pounds in short order. By the way Utterback flunked the examination because he was underweight but in later years we met him and he was in the Customs Service. Anyway Roland reported to the San Diego Naval Hospital in July and he got down there the night before and got a room at the YMCA. He went out and bought himself 10 pounds of bananas and two quarts of milk and was going to try to put on 10 pounds overnight. Well he ate bananas and drank milk and the next morning he took the streetcar out to the Naval Hospital. He had eaten so much and drunk so much that he thought he was going to be sick and he got off the streetcar and walked a little ways and he got into the hospital and was standing in line. One of the Navy Corpsman I guess that was giving the examination came down the line and he looked at Roland and he said “You don’t look tall enough. We might as well measure you and get you out of the way.” Well Roland knew that he measured 5 feet 8 1/2 and the requirements were 5 feet 8 inches. So he went over and they measured him and he was 5 feet 8 1/2 and they were surprised that he was that tall. So while he was on the scale there and they were measuring him he said “You might as well weigh me.” And so the guy said “O.K.” and they weighed him and Roland weighed in at 141 pounds. Roland asked to be excused to go to the bathroom because he was so full of liquids and food that he was miserable.

At this time in the history of the Border Patrol I think it was about the time that Roland went in they changed the requirements because I think Border Patrolmen had to be 25 years of age and had to be 5 feet 10 inches. I don’t know when that was changed;

Somebody else might know. This really is a true story about how Roland put on 10 pounds so he could get into the Border Patrol. He was very anxious for a secure job and we were never sorry that he got into the Border Patrol.

In February I think it was he went to the Border Patrol School in El Paso. When Roland first got into the Border Patrol in November he didn’t get a paycheck for 13 weeks and things were really rough because he was in Arizona and I was in California and 13 weeks without a paycheck and over the holidays was really very rough. We eventually had to borrow money from a bank to pay our bills and when the checks started coming in things were a lot better.

I stayed in California until after he got out of school and was assigned to his first station. His first station was Ruby Arizona and that was patrolling the border on horseback. Every morning he had to go down and get the horses and saddle them up and go out on patrol. The senior officer that was there at the same time we were was Harlan Porter. Carson Morrow was the Chief of the Border Patrol in Tucson in 1940 and Dogie Wright was the Assistant Chief and Pettingill was working there in Tucson. I don’t know what his title was.

Ruby was a mining town which wasn’t operating anymore and there weren’t too many people living out there and there were a lot of vacant houses out there. I think they used to have electricity but of course we didn’t have electricity. We did have running water and Roland with some pipes and stuff from the dump around there built a fire box on the outside of the house and ran the pipes through there so that when he came in from work in the evening I would light the fire and heat the water so that he could have a warm shower. I can’t describe how he built that but it was an old stove and some pipes and sort of a “Rube Goldberg” deal.

We bought a kerosene stove and kerosene lamp had a gasoline iron and a gasoline lamp. The hardest part about learning to cook on a kerosene stove is it is so very hot and the first few things I tried to bake in the oven ended up burnt because the oven was too hot. But I finally found out how to turn the burners on extra low and prop up the end of the stove where the oven is so that the kerosene would just barely run down there and with the thermometer I could get my oven down to 350 degrees in order to bake a cake. So I didn’t do too badly.

We got our paychecks once a month. Porter and Roland went into Tucson once a month to get the paychecks. They would take the horse trailer and load it up for hay and feed and get cans of food. Though we didn’t have the variety of canned meats in those days that they have now we had canned corned beef and we would use the cheese get a slab of bacon and a lot of canned goods and oleomargarine.

Roland fixed up an egg crate and covered it with burlap and then we had a pan of water on top of the egg crate that we kept filled with water and by the process of evaporation I could keep butter well oleo margarine from getting so runny and help keep cheese. But mostly we just used canned goods. I don’t remember what we did about milk probably used canned milk. About once a week over in Arivaca I believe was the name of the little place they butchered over there and on Thursdays we could go over there and get some fresh meat and I think we would get a pot roast for about 15 cents a pound. But we couldn’t keep meat for any length of time unless I heated it through because we had no refrigeration. And naturally we had the two-holer outdoor toilet and it was sort of an adventure living out there. We went out there in March and then we left there in May 1941.

One little incident while we lived out there: Roland and Porter had been out in the morning and they didn’t come back that evening so I was alone and didn’t know what to expect. Porter’s wife lived over on the other hill a half-hour walk away and I didn’t know what to expect because he was gone all night. Towards daylight I kept hearing something or someone taking a few steps and walking around the house. Since so many houses were vacant and I had no curtains up I figured somebody was trying to break in. I had a terrier dog that was just barking his head off and I was so scared. Roland had a rifle there but I didn’t have the slightest idea how to operate that. So finally I crawled down to the end of the bed and peeked out the window to see what was going on and it was some wild bulls that were grazing around the house. There was some green grass that had grown in the shade around the house and they were looking for something to eat. But I was really scared all alone out there by myself.

In May 1941 we were finally transferred to Nogales because Roland’s supervisors realized that he would never be able to pass the 10 1/2 month examination with the amount of Spanish he was learning out there from his partner. So we went to Nogales. When we got to Nogales we realized that Roland’s job was on the line if he didn’t learn Spanish and pass that 10 1/2 month examination. That 10 1/2 month examination came up I believe in October 1941. So he had to learn equal to two years of Spanish in that short length of time. I helped him as much as possible and we went on a crash program for him to learn Spanish. The senior officers down at the office had Spanish class at the office for the probationers and besides that Roland hired a private tutor. I think that was about once a week. Then another thing he enrolled in the local high school with the young high school kids and went to school and he took first and second year Spanish at the same time. Oh then we would go to movies on Sunday which were Spanish movies completely in Spanish and once in a while he would understand one or two words but he was getting his ear attuned to it because he was raised in Maryland and he hadn’t heard Spanish.

Roland continued to study Spanish as he wanted to perfect it and he was interrupted with his high school Spanish there in Nogales when the war came along because the Border Patrol were assigned to take the Japanese off the west coast. He didn’t finish up Spanish at that time but in later years in 1956-57 he started going to college in Los Angeles at night and took two years of college Spanish. He continued to use his Spanish the rest of his Immigration career and got compliments on his proper use of it.

After Pearl Harbor Roland was part of the Border Patrol that took some of the Japanese off the west coast. It wasn’t families that they were taking; it was mostly young men who I believe were classified as radicals. And they took the train up the west coast and over to I believe Missoula Montana. I don’t remember the names of any other Border Patrolmen that were on that detail. I think there was a fellow by the name of Johnny Owens that was on that trip. I don’t remember whether Roland made two trips to Missoula Montana or just the one. I know he wasn’t home for Christmas and then it was in February I believe that he was assigned to guard those Japanese diplomats out at the Triangle T Ranch at Dragoon near Benson Arizona. That was a very secret thing because of the temper of the people at that time. It had to be kept very hush-hush.

Roland didn’t get home for Easter that time because he was coloring Easter Eggs for the Japanese children out there. The Negro cook they had out there at the time got after Roland because he was hiding the Easter Eggs in the cactus and she scolded him for that. And he said “Oh it’s good for them will give them something to do.” But then Roland stayed out there and I think it was June 1942 that the Japanese were taken by train to New York City to exchange for the Americans. The exchange was not made in New York. I think it was made at some port in North Africa or someplace. They made the exchange there and then the Americans came into New York City in August 1942. And by chance Roland had been transferred to New York at that time and he was there in New York and helped process the Americans coming back to the States.

So when Roland was transferred to New York in August 1942 that was really the end of his Border Patrol time. He was drafted during World War II in March 1945 and went into the Navy. Because of poor eyesight he was unable to get back into the Marine Corps. He went in in April 1945 and he got out in March 1946.

After that he was Hearing Examiner Special Inquiry Officer and in April 1956 he became an Investigator. Roland’s time working as an Investigator in Los Angeles from April 1956 to October 1961 reminded him very much of his work in the Border Patrol because it was a similar kind of work. After that he didn’t work in the field. He was strictly in the office as supervisor. He became a Supervisor Investigator and then when he retired in San Francisco January 31 1975 he was the Assistant District Director for Investigations.

After Roland retired January 1 1975 we had ten good years of traveling and seeing the sights and visiting old friends. He died November 2 1985. It has taken me quite awhile to make this tape because I made one whole side of the tape without pushing the recording button and then trying to retrace my thoughts was hard to do.

In backtracking a little bit when Roland was a probationer there in Tucson and he hadn’t received any paychecks he was living in the back of the Border Patrol Headquarters for a place to stay. I think he told me he got credit at some restaurant and they gave him credit to eat until he could get a paycheck. They were really rough times.

It was during this time that Roland had the episode where he shot the lock off a locker. He and Pete Garvey were sleeping back there and they were dry snapping and aiming at locks on a locker. After they got tired of doing that both boys reloaded their guns and put the loaded guns back in their lockers and then sat down to write some letters to their wives. Roland’s letters were always very short and brief and to the point so he finished writing first. When he got through he went over and got his gun out of the locker and was aiming at the lock as he had done before and he was a very surprised person when that gun went off.

The locker that he shot the lock off belonged to Carson Morrow the Chief of the Border Patrol. We carried that lock around with us for years and then finally gave it to the Border Patrol School at Port Isabel Texas. When they closed things down there I don’t know how Leroy Patton got hold of it but anyway he said that as soon as he could he was going to mail it to the Border Patrol Museum because Roland saw Patton in Jackson Wyoming (at the FORBPO Convention) and he said he thought that was the place for the lock with the story behind it. If there are any more questions or if you want any more detail let me know.

Backtracking a little Roland passed his Spanish examination his 10 1/2 month examination with flying colors. His supervisors were amazed at how much he had learned. In later years as a Hearing Examiner and Special Inquiry Officer he was his own interpreter and got compliments from Spanish-speaking educated people at what excellent Spanish he spoke. After he retired the only time he ever used his Spanish was on a trip we made to Mexico in 1980. After that he was not interested.

When we were out at Ruby the way I got my washing done was usually over a scrub board and a tub. Sometimes I would take a load of washing in a little red wagon and go over to Mrs. Porter’s and use her washing machine. I think she had a gasoline operated washing machine; we were out there such a short time that I didn’t get acquainted with everything. When we went to Nogales even though we had electricity there we decided to buy a gasoline powered washing machine and I used that in Nogales. But don’t you know we were transferred to New York City and never again were we in a place where we didn’t have electricity. So eventually Roland converted that washing machine to electric and it worked fine.

On the trip with the Japanese up to Montana in December 1941 the Japanese men were all young men and they traveled on the train with the shades pulled and were not allowed to look out. There was usually a guard at the end of each train and only one person at a time could go to the bathroom.

Roland told me of one incident with one of the Japanese men that had a carbuncle on the back of his hand. It was very painful and the doctor had to lance it and Roland said they got almost a cup of pus out of that carbuncle. And that Japanese held real still and never showed any emotion or pain of any kind. It was very unusual.

Another incident was that one Japanese man tried to commit suicide by chewing his tongue. But he didn’t succeed at that time because the guards prevented him. We understood that later when his tongue healed he tried it again and succeeded.

Getting to the end of my tape now I think so all for now.

Transcribed by Roberta Shasteen and edited by Terrie Cornell June 1 1989

Paul T. Green

Mr. Green entered the Border Patrol as a member of the 61st Academy Class at El Paso Texas in August 1955. He was a long-time flight engineer and pilot of multi-engine Border Patrol Aircraft. He had many unusual experiences in the Patrol including transportation of Hungarian Refugees deportation of aliens to the orient air transportation of mafia racketeers Bureau of Prisons transportation Cuban tractor swap for U.S. prisoners after Bay of Pigs invasion and flew into Oxford Mississippi for the James Meredith situation. His interview was conducted at his home in El Paso Texas by Ms. Esther Cornell Institute of Oral History of the University of Texas at El Paso Texas on September 30 1986.

GREEN: My name is Paul Green. I was born August the third 1924. My parents were coal miners in Oklahoma. I spent most of my life in Oklahoma. I became a Border Patrolman in 1955 in El Paso Texas. The starting salary at that time I think was about 3200 dollars. I was in the 52nd class. Here in El Paso.

C: Why did you become a Border Patrolman?

G: I had always wanted to become a law enforcement officer. Really my first desire was narcotics but I have “policeman” written all over me so I could never become a narcotics agent. So consequently that took care of that. In World War Two I was with field artillery light third armored division. My first station was Marfa Texas prior to entering the academy. I was really with sort of a horse patrol down there in the Big Bend Park.

C: How long were you down there?

G: Six mouths — no three months the first time then I went to the academy then I got out of the Academy then was stationed back down in the Marfa Sector again. I stayed there until I finished probation. At that time the service had looked over my record my background and decided to put me on the Airlift. So I immediately left Marfa for Brownsville Texas.

C: When you were down at Big Bend was that a park? A brand new park?

G: Yes it was a park fairly new and it was really desolate. It was really desolate down there. The wife and I were down there awhile back and we could hardly recognize things anymore because civilization had hit there. We used to camp out when we went down there since there was no place to stay. Mainly we were after the illegal aliens working in the wax camps making candelaria wax.

When I joined the Airlift I flew with the Airlift Sector about a year out of Brownsville and then General Swing was Commissioner and he had procured a DC-4 from the Air Force. The back end of it was partially burned of so the airplane was sent to Oklahoma City to the FAA and the FAA spent about a year rebuilding and making this particular DC-4 into a you might say into a hospital ship. The purpose being the mental institutions of New York City were completely running over with illegal aliens mainly because people had brought their parents and other people into the United States and they had become mentally incompetent so they immediately put them in a mental institution for the state to take care of.

C: These would be European aliens?

G: European aliens yes.

C: What year are you talking about now?

G: We’re talking about 1957. In 1957 Oklahoma City had the airplane finished. It had a hospital section and then it had about 30 seats in back beyond the hospital section. So we made our first run into New York City. Well first we went up to Oklahoma City and the crews trained for about a couple weeks I think. Then we went into New York City for our first run to Europe. The passengers we got were very hostile. They suspicioned that something was wrong when they brought them in to Idlewild Airport to put on the airplane and consequently numerous ones didn’t want to get on the airplane. And so our only alternative was to put them on the ground pull their pants down and have a psychiatrist give them a shot. And knock ‘em out.

C: What had they been told?

G: That they were being taken to another hospital. Transferred to another hospital. So at times there were quite a few episodes right at the bottom of the stairway before we could get the aliens on board. The aliens were extremely pitiful. Some of them were old ladies old men. Some of them were very mean. There were murderers there were homicidal maniacs there were prostitutes there were communists every category you could think of undesirable aliens they were there for us to take back to Europe. Needless to say we were not equipped as the flight crew — let me go over. On a trip the crew consisted of 4 pilots and one engineer being myself. We would have usually 2 psychiatrists 2 female attendants from the mental institutions there in New York City and 2 male attendants. Then we would have New York City Airport maintained a port receptionist to assist the Immigrant Inspector in the conducting of people through the migration area. So we used the port receptionists young females as our stewardesses. And we would carry four of those. It pretty well balanced out we had 2 complete crews. And then we had beds called bunks, seats that made into beds,  on the airplane where the off-crew could sleep while the other crew was flying. Because this was not a situation where you go you stop. You don’t stop in this particular situation.

C: You had a huge crew then? Two complete crews?

G: Yes two complete crews. The reason being once we left New York City we would not stop other than for fuel and to let off our deportees off until we got most of the time to Athens Greece. The typical trip would be leaving New York City usually early in the morning and we’d go from there to Gander Newfoundland from Gander Newfoundland across the North Atlantic to Shannon Ireland or else Prestwood Scotland and then from there we would go most of the time up to Copenhagen Denmark. I-ll explain that particular procedure later. From Copenhagen Denmark we would head south then to Frankfort Germany sometimes over to Madrid sometimes into Portugal. Then we would go into Vienna Austria. From Vienna Austria we would go across the Alps to Rome Italy From Rome Italy into Belgrade Yugoslavia. however one exception on the Belgrade Yugoslavia. Tito at that time was very sensitive so consequently he would only permit one crew and whoever we were bringing back to his country and one psychiatrist to go into Belgrade Yugoslavia. Everybody else the other crew and everything we had to leave where we made our last stop. That was always touch-and-go getting into Belgrade and getting out of Belgrade because we were always extremely afraid we were gonna be interned which we almost did one time because after leaving Belgrade Yugoslavia the pilot failed to make a turn that he should have and we ended up over one of his airfields. So we were immediately challenged and luckily they considered that we were dumb Americans and let us go on. But we thought we had had it.

So that would be our usual trip agenda.

G: As to some of the experiences that happened numerous bad experiences happened in New York trying to get the criminals on board trying to get the homicidal maniacs the completely irrational people on board. The New York State institutions would assist us considerably by the night before the planned trip the next morning they would completely sedate the particular individual that was going to give us a lot of trouble. When they brought him to the airplane he was almost a mummy. But some of them still realized that they had problems and what was happening to them and so we had to give them more sedation at the bottom of the stairs.

We were getting rid of our Communists in Copenhagen Denmark. This particular situation in a way it was pitiful but it had to be done like this. We had a Communist seaman. So we stopped in Copenhagen Denmark. He was fairly rational. We let him off along with a male attendant who was supposed to put him on a Russian airliner that left the Scandinavian countries stopped in Copenhagen and then went directly into Russia. We dropped him off along with the attendant expecting everything to go alright. We went on from there on into Vienna Austria. That particular trip we stopped in Vienna Austria. We didn’t have any passengers going to Italy or Greece. So I’d just gotten to bed and the telephone rang and the two pilots involved were Pilleod and Brown So they said we got to go back to Copenhagen because the old seaman’s name was Joe Joe had become extremely uncooperative and would not get on the Russian airliner. So they said were gonna have to go back and do something with him. So we got the psychiatrist who at that time happened to be Dr. Buckman who was chief psychiatrist and director of King’s Park Hospital the biggest mental institution out on Long Island I think encompassing about 10000 patients. A massive institution. So we woke up Dr. Buckman and we told him what our problem was and he said I can take care of it for you.” So the 4 of us including the psychiatrist flew back to Copenhagen Denmark. We landed and picked up the seaman and the male attendant.

C: The male attendant was American?

G: someone in the institution there in New York City. So our only alternative was to take this seaman to another location in the Scandanavian countries and I can’t remember what city it was but we checked the schedule and found that the Russian airliner also landed in this particular city. So we went ahead and put the seaman on board We told Buckman what our problem was and he said “I will take care of it for you.” So after we had been air born about an hour 30 minutes to an hour Dr. Buckman came forward and he said “he is completely sedated. I can’t give him another shot or it’ll kill him but he’ll do anything that you want him to do.” So I went back and I looked at him and he looked like a mummy but he was still walking. So we landed at this other city and we put old Joe and the male attendant off again.

So that got rid of him. As I said it was rather a pitiful situation but it had to be done. And that got rid of that Communist.

We had another rather interesting situation in Vienna Austria. I was out on the airplane gassing the airplane up we were gonna go down into Belgrade Yugoslavia. We had a man and his wife to deliver down there. The man Tito wanted because he was a convicted murderer and I don’t know what else but anyhow he was important cargo as far as Tito was concerned. So at the same time we got rid of ours we had to accommodate other government agencies as to what they wanted. So as I was gassing up let’s see I was on the right wing and the cabin entrance door was to the left and the rear. So I heard this horrible commotion back there.

Supposedly one of the pilots was supposed to be guarding that door so that nobody got off. But the Yugoslavian was desperate so he got by the pilot and I looked down and the Yugoslrvian was running away from the airplane across the ramp. Needless to say the ramp usually encompasses 10 15 20 acres of completely barren territory you might say. So I jumped off the airplane wing down on the stand and down on the ground. There was a Volkswagen coming by that was part of the ground crew. So I commandeered the Volkswagen and I told the Volkeswagen to chase the guy that was running the Yugoslavian. So he took out he got quite a kick out of it I think because he took out after the Yugoslavian. Well by that time the Yugoslavian had gotten to a wood fence that was the boundary of the airport so he jumped over the wood fence it was about 6—7—foot tall I guess and he got over the fence before we got there but I jumped out and I got up on the fence and I could see if I made one great big leap I might get the Yugoslavian. So I did. I jumped and I landed fortunately right on top of him Well the battle was on. He bit scratched and everything you could think of trying to get away from me and of course he had the advantage of the adrenalin that I didn’t have. So anyhow he didn’t get away from me and I was able to keep him under control until the Vienna policemen arrived. By that time the Hungarian revolt was pretty well over with and the Viennese were extremely sympathetic to the Hungarians and to anybody that wanted refuge. So they found out the story that the Yugoslavian was headed back to Yugoslavia so they said no you cant have him. So they wouldn’’ give him to us. So here we are with the guy’s wife and she immediately becomes absolutely hysterical. I just can’t describe how hysterical she got. Because she knew that we were taking her to Yugoslavia but her husband wasn’t going along. So we went ahead and could do nothing but give the Viennese the Yugoslavian. We kept the wife and the doctor finally had to sedate her because she’d become completely unruly. The situation was that as long as we maintained control or sovreignty of the airplane as long as the people stayed upstairs but once they reached the ground why we’d lost control of them. They belonged to whatever country we were in. So we went ahead and took her on in to Belgrade Yugoslavia and got rid of her.

C: Did you tell the Viennese that he was a murderer?

G: They didn’t care. they’re very sympathetic. Anybody that comes into Austria and wants asylum they’re gonna get it. That pretty well closed out that situation.

OK along with the mental patients which was our prime concern the Hungarian revolt I think had stopped about that time but there were still Hungarian refugees streaming across. But a lot of Hungarian refugees had become disenchanted with this country. So the Government was bringing those back into New York processing them and then we would take numerous ones of the Hungarians back to Vienna Austria. We couldn’t go into Hungary.

C: Why did they want to go back?

G: They just didn’t like the United States. They had become disenchanted with the United States and their relatives were in Hungary so they wanted to go back. It was a complicated situation process the Hungarian situation as far as who took what. I don’t want to discuss the political ramifications of all the…. On our return trips we would also bring back Hungarians who had escaped into Austria in Austria and wanting to come to the United States so we had Hungarians going both ways really. Those brought home disenchanted those coming to the new country

The usual trip by the time we left New York would take anywhere from 20 to 30 hours depending on how many stops we made what countries we had to land at to disembark aliens or mental patients. We would usually end up either in Vienna Rome or Athens Greece. We’d spend about two or three days there resting up and then start back on our return trip. Most of our return trips were empty unless there were some Hungarians who had escaped into Austria and we would stop in Vienna pick them up and bring them into New York.

The weather…One of the most exciting probably would be the weather. The North Atlantic is horrible. In wintertime if you go down I think the survival rate in the water is about 2 1/2 minutes. So you don’t have to worry too much about ditching in the North Atlantic. We had one extremely close call as far as ditching in the North Atlantic. We left Gander New­foundland and were only about 2 or 2 1/2 hours out from Gander Newfoundland. Now to a layman this sounds rather peculiar. We lost an engine. Actually we had an indication that we had a fire in one of our engines so we shut the engine down. But the head winds if we turned around and went back to Gander Newfoundland it would take us longer to do that due to the headwinds than it would to proceed on to Shannon Ireland. So in that situation you go to wherever you can get there the fastest and Shannon Ireland being it. So we proceeded to Shannon Ireland but we hit horrible ice. Needless to say we were pretty heavy we had the nose pretty high then we started hitting the ice and the ice started building up on the wings and on the bottom of the wings. So we were carrying many pounds of ice and the power was no longer available to us so we had to…we just started drifting down. We started out I think at about 10000 feet when we hit the ice. Gradual drift-down due to the weight which we couldn’t do anything about and we ended up 3000 feet above the North Atlantic and luckily were able to maintain our altitude. And we made it on in to Shannon Ireland.

It was a very close call. As one of the ground crew of course the section that handled the crossing of the airplanes across the Atlantic knew we were in serious trouble so they assisted us in every way they could. As far as traffic. And as one of the Irish ground crew put it when we landed and taxied up to the airport he said “You had a squeaky one.” And yes it was a very squeaky trip.

The other very close call was numerous times we would leave Gander and go into Bermuda or Lodges in the Azores. Lodges was a city in the Azores. So I can’t remember whether it was Bermuda or Lodges. The airport starts at the beginning of the runway at a cliff. The cross winds were just absolutely unreal. At Lodges or Bermuda whichever it was they only have one runway. So you can only land in one direction and the Wind was 180° opposite of the runway which meant we had about a 70—knot cross wind. This proved to be a very bad problem. The pilot was able to maintain directional control by landing really on one landing gear and the nose wheel and he kept the other landing gear up. And he was able to maintain directional control until we rolled out.

C: Do you recall who the pilot was?

G: Yes that was pilot John Wright I might add that after the squeaky trip that I mentioned when we encountered the ice John Wright went back to Washington he was the pilot on plane and about 2 1(2 weeks later he died in his sleep. So I don’t know whether the strain had anything to do with him dying or not but anyhow it was a horrible strain on all of us.

Another situation was in either Lodges or Bermuda the winds were real bad again which they nearly always were We were heading into this cliff and we didn’t seem to be able to get above the cliff. We kept adding power and adding power and adding more power trying to get above the cliff to the end of the runway. So finally we ended up almost with maximum tower before we were able to overcome the down-draft that was occurring at the edge of the cliff there that kept us from getting up to the edge of the runway to land. So it was a very close situation that we had there. I think that pilot was Ed Parker I’m not sure.

Another close situation we had was….our navigators that we used on this trip….back in those days we used navigators and we always carried two navigators one on and one off. We always had one student navigator. Well the navigators came from a reserve unit out on Long Island and Air Force Reserve unit and they had navigators out there. So our navigators consisted of one experienced navigator and one student. So we took these two navigators to Europe one time. We got into I think Austria or Rome and one of the navigators was Jewish — our main navigator was Jewish — and he received a message from New York City that one of his parents had died. They were Orthodox Jews which meant that they didn’t embalm them I guess and they buried them as quick as they could. So the navigator told us he said “ I got a horrible problem here I’m due to go back I need to go back but the navigator I’m gonna leave you with can’t get you back to New York.” So needless to say that really shook us. But we figured we’ll get back to New York you go ahead and catch a commercial airliner and go back to New York and take care of what has to be done there. That left us with the student. The student turned out to be absolutely worse than we ever anticipated. From the very time we left let’s see at that time I think we were in Vienna Austria I guess it was. Because we left Austria went over to Portugal and we were going from Portugal to Lodges in the mid-Atlantic. Immediately whenever he gave us a course after leaving Portugal we knew that he was way way out.

So we ignored him and let him go ahead and navigate and we went ahead and flew our course. We had radar on board that was good I think about 300 miles. It was weather radar hut it was extremely good about picking up islands. So I spent most of the evening looking at the scope trying to find the Azores. And he was navigating but his courses were terrible. We finally saw a little speck in the scope and I told the pilot I believe I found it.
From there we had to some how or other get to Gander Newfoundland. So we took off again and he gave us an unreal heading. So we went ahead and the pilot navigated his own bearing as to what he thought would be it considering the winds and everything. And it’s quite a long leg. So about oh I think about 4 hours we were beginning to get a little concerned because we couldn’t pick up nothing on the radar as far as a landfall. So the pilot started tuning in what’s known as an ADF it’s a directional finder and it was intended really for this type of navigation. But the pilot finally luckily the set and the direction finder would also home in on commercial stations. So finally the pilot heard this opera singer. So he started listening to the opera singer and sure enough after awhile the station identified itself and it turned out to be a station on Newfoundland in Gander. So after a few more miles why the needle would home in on this particular station in Newfoundland so we were able to go ahead and follow the needle on in to Newfoundland. And then from Newfoundland on in to New York why nothing to it. You got easy navigating. So we did make it back to New York but at times we were very skeptical that we were going to.

Another real touchy situation was we were coming in from either Shannon Ireland or the Azores and we always had to land in Gander to pick up fuel because we just didn’t have the capacity to do anything else. So the closer we got to Gander Gander told us their weather was absolutely stinkin’. That it was 0—0. Which meant that you couldn’t see anything’ up or down or forward or anything else. But they did have what’s known as a GCA which is a Ground Control Approach system and the guy sitting in a radar-controlled house he spots you on a scope and then he has the facilities to hopefully bring you to the ground. with his radar system. So that was our only alternative was to take it. As I said the situation was 0-0. The pilot at that time was John Wright who was a very capable instrument pilot a terrific person as far as instrument work. So he was good; the guy on the ground was good; so between the two of them they started out to get us on the ground. We got closer and closer to the ground which is real close and the guy on the ground said “You should be seeing the runway.” Well all we could see was one runway light at a time. We were actually over the runway coming in to the runway at the end of the runway but we couldn’t see two lights. Because one light wouldn’t…you couldn’t… John couldn’t set up directional control to go to the next light. All we could see was one so we didn’t know which direction the second light was. The air was full of ice crystals and when we turned on the landing lights it made it worse. It just reflected off the ice crystals. So anyhow we made that pass and we didn’t make it on the ground. So we aborted the landing and went around again and set up for another approach. I think the guy on the ground had made up his mind “I’m gonna get that airplane in.” And John Wright had made up his mind “I’m gonna land this airplane.” So we went for the second approach. And we left the landing lights off the second time so we wouldn’t get the reflection off the ice flakes. Well again all we could get was one runway light at a time and so we didn’t make it that time. Again we made an abort landing and went around again and started for our third approach. And this one had to be it because we only had enough fuel to go to our alternate airport which was quite a few miles on the other side of Greenland, I mean Newfoundland. So he tried his third approach. Everything was beautiful both of them were absolutely fantastic in their coordination but we just couldn’t get that second runway light in sight on our approach so we had to abort that landing. So then we had to head on to another airport cause that’s all the fuel we had left. We had just come … we had used up all our fuel. So that pretty well took care of another hairy situation.

The situation on deporting some of the people was just real pitiful from the standpoint of we’re talking about young people here in the United States who had brought their mothers over they’ve become mentally unbalanced and they were sending the old people back home to Lord knows what kind of situation and some of the cases I don’t know how the kids’ conscience let them do it. It was just unbearable to …my heart bled for the old people when I saw them on board the airplane. It was just a horrible situation but I guess the kids didn’t care I don’t know.

In addition to our European trips once a year we’d usually fly to the Orient. This really taxed the capabilities of the DC-4 because of the distances involved and the headwinds. Our usual trip on the Orient would be New York to San Francisco and then I would cram every ounce of fuel I could get by means of using a pencil and some Filler necks and what have you

Cornell: A pencil and some what?

Green: Oh I used a little system of putting a pencil in a filler neck and I could get quite a bit more fuel in the tanks. Because the leg from San Francisco to Hawaii took us 13 and a half hours and that pretty well stretched the capabilities of the DC-4 as far as fuel quantity. We always insisted that we have nothing but the best navigators and we didn’t carry any student navigators on these particular trips. Our load usually consisted of people from Mainland China  we got rid of them through Hong Kong. So we would leave Frisco go to the Hawaiian Islands and I can’t remember whether it was Guam or Wake. Guam was our next stop after Hawaiian Islands and it was just about as long if not longer from San Francisco to Hawaii. So again it taxed our fuel capabilities. And from there on into Hong Kong we had no problem. Island hopping but the navigator could easily stay on course. We would end up in Hong Kong China. The airport in Hong Kong China is a very difficult airport to get into. You gotta go between two mountains to get to the airport and you can only go through there in good weather But luckily weather was good and we had no trouble getting into Hong Kong. By that time we were pretty well bushed. We’d spend 4 or 5 days in Hong Kong. Some times we had deportees for other countries around Hong Kong so our male attendants would take the other patients or deportees we had leave Hong Kong and go into the other countries and then come back into Hong Kong and we’d be waiting for them to return so we could head back to the United States. There was nothing real eventful about the Hong Kong trips. Never any close encounters no particular violent patients of any kind. Pretty routine.

In addition to the missions so far as the European trips we had a secondary function involving VIP trips. At this particular time General Swing was Commissioner in my estimation one of the finest men and Commissioners we’ve ever had as far as getting jobs done. He knew how to do it he had two very capable assistants - Ray Farrell and Ed Lochran. Ray Farrell was a politician and a PR man deluxe. Ed Lochran was a terrific money man. Everybody in Washington has to have some little gimmick and so Swing and Farrell decided on the secondary function of the DC-4. So they notified me to make up a configuration by which I could take the interior of the airplane and change it around and give it what I called a VIP configuration. At that time we were keeping the airplane with Lockheed in New York Lockheed Aviation. So I went to the engineers at Lockheed and I told them what I wanted. I never at any time had any trouble with money. What I spent and what I did was never questioned. So Lockheed informed me they had just finished building and outfitting a Lockheed Electra - no a Lockheed…I can’t remember. A four-engine massive airplane. At that time it was a transport plane. But anyhow it’s immaterial. Eisenhower was president he had decided

Give it to .Hailee Salasee. Salasee had his particular type he wanted on the interior so they had some engineering plans left over from it. But as a side line this particular airplane that they built for Salsee Lockheed finished it and they notified Hailee Salasee he sent his crew in Lockheed trained the crew and the crew left New York to take it back to Ethiopia It was quite an impressive airplane. It had the Lion of Judah painted from front to back real colorful airplane. So the crew proceeded to take the airplane back to Ethiopia. On landing the crew cracked up the airplane and burnt the airplane up. So Hailee Salasee never got to use his airplane that had been fixed up so elaborate for him.

But anyhow mainly I needed some tables and some configuration to make this DC-4 into sort of a VIP airplane so Lockheed had the ideal plans that I wanted so I got them to make them up They were fully detachable. I could set up a VIP configuration in about 3 hours from a transport configuration. The secondary function then was to see that Congressman John Rooney Democrat of New York Chairman of the Appropriations Subcomm­ittee.

Cornell:How do you spell that Rooney?

Green: ROONEY. He was a most influential little fellow. Italian and quite a drinker. He loved to be catered to. So Farrell being the good PR man he was, when we weren’t busy on our missions why then we would go into New York pick up numerous dignitaries - Swing Farrell Congressman John Rooney and his wife Katie who was quite a character herself. She was a very tall woman. She was a fun-loving woman just had a good time anything she went at. In one particular instance it was quite hurry-up trip evidently Congressman John wanted to go somewhere and he didn’t tell Katie in time. So I get on board the…..

Raymond Fuhrmann

Raymond Fuhrmann

Mr. Fuhrmann entered the U.S. Border Patrol in February, 1966 as a member of Session 87, at Port Isabel, Texas.

My name is Raymond Fuhrmann, I was born on a farm near Roscoe, S.D. on May 11, 1940. I was the 5th child out of ten children born to my mother and father, in addition to five half brothers and sisters born to my father and his first wife who died shortly after giving birth to their last child.
I attended a one-room school about ½ mile from our farm which, at times, seemed to be our exclusive “family” school. I recall that during one school year, the entire school consisted of four of us Fuhrmanns and one neighbor kid.

After completing the eight grade, I helped on the farm during busy planting and harvest times and the rest of the time I found work where I could on other farms and ranches and driving road construction trucks. At age 18, I enlisted in the SD National Guard, and in Nov. 1958 and while on 6 months of active duty, I obtained a GED high school diploma (Probably the best move I ever made). After my 6months’ stint in the military, I returned to helping on the farm again.

In 1959 1 met the love of my life, Angeline V. Schwingler, a farm girl living about 15 miles from our place. In the spring of 1961 1 told my Dad that we were planning on getting married in June. When he asked what I planned to do for a living, I told him that 1 wanted to start farming but needed some help from him. He just looked around for a bit, then shook his head saying “there’s got to be a better way of making a living than this”.
I got the message and since we were to get married in a few weeks, I felt I better find a steady source of income. I went to the nearest large city about 50 miles away (Aberdeen, SD) I applied for numerous jobs including a position as firefighter for the city of Aberdeen. I wrote the firefighter test, passed the interview and climbed to the tip of the 80’ ladder truck. After coming down from the ladder, they asked if I could start work the following week. I told them I was getting married that week and sure would have liked to go on a short honeymoon. They agreed to give me an extra week. We were going to become “city folks”! All was well with the world.

In spite of friends and family reminding me that I had one of the best jobs in the area, I was bored with the “waiting game” to be called to fires or operating the city ambulance. I also had a longing to find something that allowed me to spend more time in the outdoors. I also had become attached to the comfort of a steady paycheck! After five years on the Fire Dept., I finally went to the Post Office to check the government positions that might appeal to me. I found two and applied for both. One was for State Game Warden and the other was for Immigration Patrol Inspector. I wrote the test for IPI and eventually was summoned for an interview conducted by two Investigators from the Twin Cities, MN.

One of the first things they asked is how I knew about the Border Patrol. I told them by reading the brochure that I had picked up at the Post Office. Then they asked if I ever spoke to or seen a Border Patrolman. I think after that response, they decided to see how serious I really was and went on to tell horror stories of laying in along the river at nights among the snakes and mosquitoes. Heck, I already was used to the snakes and mosquitoes, this was S.D. of course?

Well, they couldn’t talk me out of wanting to continue, and in a few weeks I got the letter telling me to report to the CPI in Marfa, TX for assignment. Whoo boy! We rented out our house, had an auction sale for our household goods, packed some things in a small two wheel trailer, said goodbye to our lifelong friends and relatives (I got the sense that Angie’s mother thought she would never see her daughter again, since we were going off to some foreign place!) and headed for West Texas (That’s west of the Pecos River, you know!)

Never having been that far from home, and especially never in a border area, to say it was a cultural shock is an understatement. Upon arrival, we rented an old adobe house and began cleaning it up to make it habitable for my wife and two pre-school kids. Let me say that these kinds of moves must be so much harder on the family than on us officers. At least we had a place to go and shortly, had something in common with each other. The fact that Angie just took things in stride and began making a home without ever once looking back or asking to give it all up and go back to SD still amazes me. Without a doubt, our BP wives are the heroes!

The CPI at Marfa was O.D. Stevens, a real gentleman in my opinion. I spent four years in Marfa and, since I could see that the laid back life of the area was growing on both me and Angie, I figured I’d better get going or we might just spend the rest of our lives there. I applied for numerous lateral transfers, mostly to the northern border. Eventually, by a stroke of luck, I was selected for San Luis Obispo, CA.

I guess this would be a good time to relate one of my first interesting experiences working with the Border Patrol and it also included Chief Stevens. Shortly after getting off probation, I was riding with a journeyman officer when we drove north of Marfa into the Davis Mountains. We checked a remote bunk house that we felt housed some illegals but all were apparently out working cattle. Well, several days later I was working by myself and we had no fresh tracks to follow that morning so I headed up to that same ranch to try my luck. I got there well before noon and had hidden my Scout about 1 mile away. I walked up to the place and waited inside. Sure enough, around noon three of the fellows entered the bunkhouse for lunch. I was pretty proud with my first “solo” catches and was happily processing them back at the Station when Chief Stevens walked into the room (Sector Headquarters was adjacent to our Station at that time). The Chief asked me where 1 got them boys and I proudly told him off so-and-so’s ranch.

He said he figured that because the rancher had called him. He kindly went on to explain that the rancher was in the middle of calving and really needed the help and couldn’t get anyone else, and why don’t I just write them up for an 1-2 10 and 1-94 for 30 days and then take them back up to Mr. so-and-so. And that’s exactly what I did. Sure did make for a long day as it was almost a three how round trip and it was already late in the afternoon. I was thankful that the gloating rancher wasn’t there wailing on me when I dropped them off. That’s when I realized what the older journeymen meant when they talked about the “Marfa Bracero Program”. Never again did I apprehended a “working wet” on ranches after that lesson!

I spent 17 years in SLC) as a BPA and always felt that wild horses couldn’t pull me away from that place.

Well, our kids left the nest and I had a few years to go so! figured moving would be pretty easy for just Angie and me. I ended up in Bakersfield, CA as APAIC from 1988 to 1991.

That move was pretty easy, so I applied for PAIC in Riverside. I was at Riverside from 1991 until my retirement in June of 1994. Angie and I then returned to our home that we had kept near San Luis Obispo.

To try to tell someone of the interesting things that we officers have done and seen just doesn’t do it justice. This has been the most exciting and satisfying career that I could ever imagine. I recall many times while in SLO as a journeyman officer, and working with my fellow agents, William Wimmer, or W.E. Jones or Richard Ruffel and we would comment “and they PAY us to do this” after coming in from checking trains or trying to round up illegals with our government provided motorcycles.

Yes, being a journeyman officer was, in my opinion, the best job in the patrol.

During my career, among many of my temporary assignments include spending time at Key West. FL during the Cuban boatlift.

I was a member of the Oral Interview Board for Border Patrol Applicants.

I was a member of the Cuban Revue Panel to interview and recommend detention or release of Cuban detainees throughout the U.S.
I worked in four Sectors, Marfa, Chula Vista, Livermore and El Centro.

I graduated from the BP Academy, Los Fresnos, TX, Feb.9, I 967, the 87th Session.

Since having retired, Angie and I bought some acreage near Arroyo Grande, CA and built ourselves a home and shop on it. We have been kept busier than I ever imagined since retirement. Among some of my hobbies and pastimes I have been enjoying is playing tennis, playing bridge, restoring old tractors and other rusty iron, traveling in our RV, spending time with our two children and our four grandchildren and an annual trek to SD for pheasant hunting.

Angie and I would like to take this opportunity to invite any retired (or active) BP Officers to come visit us if they are traveling through this area. On our property, we have a full hookup site for RV’s and you’re certainly welcome to use it. Who knows, we may even swap some war stories!
Raymond Fuhnnann
7979 Mary Hall Rd.
Arroyo Grande, CA
P1-I: 805-489-9488
Email: iafuhrm~gmail.com

Russell K. Dudley

Russell K. Dudley was a member of the 1ST formal Border Patrol Academy at Camp Chigas, El Paso, Texas which began in 1937. He was interviewed by Ms. Terrie Cornell at the National Border Patrol Academy on January 12, 1987. His interview covers such diverse subjects as early Customs Patrol & Border Patrol conflicts, Border Patrol activities with enemy aliens during WW 2, and even personalities of Border Patrol notables Horsley and McBee.

My name is Russell E. Dudley. I was born December 22, 1908, in Stratford, Texas. I went to school, however, in Wichita, Kansas. My father was a contractor and I spent my life there until I came back to Texas in 1936. In Wichita and also as a teenager I worked on ranches in the panhandle north of Amarillo. I graduated from high school, Wichita High School East, and I had no college.

I came into the Border Patrol on May 16, 1936. As I remember there were about 45 of us came into the Patrol in that class. H. C. Horsley was Chief Patrol Inspector at that time and Griffith McBee was acting Assistant Chief Patrol Inspector as there was no such title at that time. He was a Senior Patrol Inspector. Our starting salary was $1800 a year, but effective July 1, 1936; (a month and a half later) they raised our base pay to $2,000 a year. The ones who griped the most about a bunch of rookies getting a raise were the fellows who came into the Border Patrol the year before.

Our firearms instructor that year was Charles Askins, Jr. Most of the instructors were Immigrant Inspectors or fellow Border Patrolmen. We had no regular school. Our Spanish was taught by an instructor from the El Paso school system. I believe her name was Bertie Weimer, and she taught us a year of high school Spanish in the eight weeks that our school lasted. And she really taught us — we could almost ask somebody what their name was by the time the school was over. This was quite a feat.

I was in the Patrol from 1936 until October, 1941, and I was Stationed in El Paso from 1940. In early 1940 until April, 1941, I was in charge of the station at Deming, New Mexico. They closed the station and sent me down to Ysleta as Senior in Charge of the Ysleta Station. TC: How long were you at Deming?

RD: A year and 15 days in Deming.

TC: Until they closed it?
RD: Yes. The reason they closed it, when they expanded the Patrol in 1940 they had some new stations. when I first went to Deming I had everything from the overpass 24 miles east of Deming to the Arizona line — all the country and north as far as Reserve, New Mexico. I had a three-man station and 1 car. When they expanded the Patrol in 1940, they put a station at Columbus, one at Hachita, and one at Lordsburg, and I stayed in Deming for several months. The Senior who had been at Ysleta went over to Immigrant Inspector and they needed a Senior there. They decided to close Denting and moved me to Ysleta.

TC: Whose place did you take in Ysleta? Do you remember?
RB: I don’t remember. I believe it was Knesset. I believe he was the one just before I was. But it was an interesting station at Ysleta. There had been quite a disagreement between the Customs Patrol and the Border Patrol as to who had jurisdiction on the river. They worked it out to where we had complete jurisdiction on the river. They had orders not to lay in to look for wetbacks, as local liquor and everything was else being smuggled across at that time. And there were some old timers in the Customs Patrol down there. Doug Pyatt and Al Coppenbarger at Ysleta and they had a team this side of there and a team down at Fabens. And my territory covered all three of them, Well, I knew all of them and they were good friends of mine and good men and they needed to work the river. And Chief McBee, who took charge when Chief Horsley retired, told me, “You know those men down there, be sure nobody knows that they work the river.” So they knew where I lived; if they wanted to work some information they had, they would come by the house when I was off duty and tell me they wanted to work so I assigned my night team to work someplace else. So, officially, the Customs Patrol did not work the river while I was in Ysleta.

But one or two of the men working with me decided they wanted to make a little issue of it and they told the Chief that I let the Customs Patrol work the river. So we had a meeting in Ysleta for coffee one day and most of my group was there, they told me they were going to work the river whether I wanted them to or not. So, I told them, and most of them knew me very well, the first Customs patrolman I caught on the river at night I would shoot him. Well, they agreed to back off and that was the end of it as far as the people in my station were concerned. But, at various times, the Customs Patrol still worked the river. Chief McBee knew it very quietly and I knew it. That’s the only two people that knew it. But they backed me up at different times when it was necessary to have a back—up because I had all rookies down at Ysleta at that time and you don’t like to go down on a smuggling deal when you know the smugglers are carrying arms with just a rookie to stay by you. So, I appreciated that very much.

TC: What were the Customs men supposed to be doing? If they didn’t work the river what did they do?
RD: Well, they could stay back away from the river at least a quarter or a half mile, at the very least, and look for people crossing or liquor or narcotics crossing. It was kind of a jealous arrangement they had there because a lot of the Customs Patrol had gone out of the Border Patrol because they could make more money. There was a lot of jealousy between the two patrols at that time, unfortunately. I knew most of them and they knew me and we worked out things. That was it, period.

In the summer of 1941, I had probably the most interesting thing I did while I was in the Border Patrol. The Chief called me in and said they wanted a survey of all the Japanese all the way from Elephant Butte Dam clear down as far as Fort Hancock, but they wanted to keep it very quiet. So, I was being detailed to do it. I’d be furnished an extra car from headquarters and the Chief Patrol Inspector furnished a list of all the Japanese in the area as far as they knew and where they worked. But they would not go with me, I would go alone. And there were some reports I had to write on them. What I was told was that the FBI thought that we’d eventually go to war with Japan and they couldn’t make the investigation or it would cause an international incident because we were not at war. But by checking their Immigration status I could do it. It made some other Seniors very unhappy that I came into their territory, but it didn’t worry me because Chief McBee ran the Sector and he ran it with an iron hand when necessary. In fact, one Senior said he was going with me and I called McBee on the telephone and he got him into El Paso to talk to the Chief. So, I made a check on all of them and I found some Japanese that nobody knew were in the valley working, had farms.

TC: Were you in plain clothes or uniform?
RD: Uniform. It was strictly just a Border Patrol check for the Immigration status of the Japanese. One Japanese that I interviewed was at a farm in Ascarate was very well educated. I stopped him one day and he said, “You’re not doing this because you are worried about our Immigration status, because you know and I know that it is just a question of time until your country and my country go to war. That’s why you want the information.” He had quite a background. He was educated and was a member of the Japanese Navy with a pretty high rank in it. He was sent to the University of Chicago to study and learn English instead of some of the things they wanted him to study. When he got over here he decided he wanted to bring his wife and daughter over here. So, he wrote back with the request that they be sent to him and they said no, because he would be recalled in the next several months. And he said, “I contacted a friend of mine to get them smuggled out of Japan. My father sent me a cablegram that unfortunately they had found out about this. You won’t like the newspaper you are going to get. It showed a picture of my wife and child with all their hands cut off because I wanted to get them out of Japan. I knew I would never go back.” So I said, “In case we should go to war, will you help me?” He said, “I’ll do this much. If I tell you certain Japanese is a bad man, lock him up fast. If I say he is a good man, let him fan.” So when the war broke out and they had the hearings on the government at that time under the U.S. Attorney’s office, I was called by practically all these Japanese. They wanted me to testify for them. It was old home week and most of them were good people. A few of the bad ones they got just as soon as the war started, but the rest of them farmed and they were good people.

TC: But the man you talked with, his family never did get to come over?
RD: No, they were killed so they couldn’t bring them over. So, he said, “I’m never going back.” And he was one of the highest families in Japan.

TC: And he hated Japan after that.
RD: Oh, he sure did.

TC: Approximately how many Japanese were here in this area that you spoke to?
RD: I imagine probably 40 or 50 altogether. There were several here in El Paso and some up as far as just this side of Elephant Butte — down around Hatch — and on down the valley and the last one was on down below Fabens.

TC: And they all were farmers?
RD: All except the ones here in El Paso. Some of them were merchants of various kinds. One produce merchant I knew very well. He went to Juarez every Sunday and came back Monday morning, usually about five o’clock in the morning. And on Pearl Harbor Day I went to work at three o’clock as I had transferred to the bridge as inspector and they told us we were on duty until he crosses. Which meant a double shift. So, at five o’clock on Monday morning he crossed and was very, very surprised. He hadn’t heard anything at all about the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. I didn’t exactly believe him, so I went over to Juarez the next day and talked to a man who runs a bar across from one of the Japanese merchants in Juarez. And he told me, “I knew something was going on, but I didn’t know what. Because they come over here every Sunday morning and they have two or three drinks and all talk Spanish to me. So, they came in and ordered drinks that morning and they all talked Japanese. And they went back across the Street and this one fellow you picked up came back across to have another drink and he told me now there’s going to be hell to pay. He said my people are bombing Pearl Harbor.”

TC: He knew it.
RD: Oh, yes. They had good radios. They could listen all over the world and they did. So that was quite an interesting experience.

PC: The people that you spoke to in this area, were they rounded up for detention camps?
RD: They were rounded up, because this security board they had checked all of them and they decided whether to release them or not. And so I said I had called upon almost all of them and then they asked me to help. The Assistant U.S. Attorney said, do you think these people should be interned and I said, No, send them home to farm.

PC: Did your informant tell you that there were any bad ones?
RD: This produce man was one that he mentioned in particular. I talked to him, I guess, two weeks before Pearl Harbor and he shared a list with me all the time. He said this man right here, if anything happens, lock him up fast. And then search his rooms and everything. About several thousand dollars buried in the wall of one room. He claimed he made about $10 a week from his produce business clear. A radio station, you could listen to about anything you wanted to listen to.

TC: So he was locked up.
RD: Oh, yes. Several of them were locked up, but he was the outstanding one.

TC: Do you know where he was taken?
RD: He eventually went back to Japan.

PC: But in the meantime, where was he held in the States?
RD: I don’t know, we had several Japanese camps, one at Fort Stanton, one up at Santa Fe. I think he was at Santa Fe, that’s where most of the Japanese were. Ft. Stanton was primarily a German camp.

TC: Did you ever know that there was a camp around Wilcox, Arizona?
RD: Yes. I had nothing to do with any of the camps. The nearest I came was when they brought the internees off the German ship they seized with all the crew out in San Francisco. All stations from Deming, Columbus, and Lordsburg met the train in Lordsburg, just to be sure nobody tried to board the train; that’s where they changed crews. And I was supposed to outrun the train to get to Deming in time to check the crew there. And I did by driving 90 miles an hour; that train was really flying.

TC: And he was on his way to Ft. Stanton?
RD: Yes. That whole train was Germans going to Ft. Stanton.

TC: When you transfer over to Immigration?
RD: In October of 1941. You know, back in the ‘30’s we were under the Department of Labor. And Frances Perkins decided that a lot of the killings in El Paso area were unjustified and a lot of the shooting was. So we had instructions that if any fight broke out, unless somebody was injured, you made a report to the Chief, who made a report to the District Director and that was as far as it went. In ‘38 we had three shootings I was involved in down at Cordova Island. In the last one my partner and I got pinned down for about an hour. He transferred here from Arizona and he didn’t like to wear the dark green pants we had, so he wore a pair of suntan pants and they could see us over there. So they had us pinned down for about an hour until we finally got another team in there to help us get out of there.

PC: How many Mexicans were there?
RD: Well, there were actually about three doing the shooting. One of them that we later identified was Valantin Torres. He had killed a Border Patrolman back in ‘29 and hated Border Patrol with a vengeance. He and his son, Ismael, who must have died about 1970 or ‘71, and another man, I don’t know who the other man was. But, nobody was hurt, fortunately.

TC: You said you were a firearms instructor. When was that?
RD: 1937, the class of ‘37. Charles Askins, who was the national instructor was on detail to the Canadian Border.

PC: Canadian Border?
RD: Yes. Because he instructed the whole border, both borders. And Chief Horsley was very much in favor of the pistol team, he really liked it. And I had decided to quit shooting with the pistol team in the summer of ‘37. Somebody told the Chief. Some things had happened that I didn’t approve of, so he made me the instructor of the Class of ‘37. So, it was quite interesting. We shot the highest score that had ever been shot. Course we had .38’s instead of the .45’s to shoot with, which made a lot of difference. So, I instructed until around April of ‘38, April or May. Probably April.

TC: One class?
RD: Yes. But I still took the quarterly qualifications we had at that time, for the whole sector and I ran it(???). I enjoyed it, it was quite an experience. It was something different. You probably have a triangulation picture here, of some tripods.

PC: Yes, are you in there?
RD: Yes.

TC: I’ll get it.
RD: O.K. And I’ll tell you something about one of the fellows in
it. When I was a Senior in Deming in 1940 they thought they were going to have a revolution in Mexico and their election, of course, was the first Sunday in July. I was on leave in Kansas and they cancelled everybody’s leave in case a revolution broke out, so the Border Patrol could hold the border, if possible. So, I came back on a Saturday and went down to see the Chief on Sunday. He said when you get to Deming call your team that is down in Columbus, get your bedroll, and go down there and stay until you get relieved. I said, “Why?” He said, well you know about this talk of revolution. Go on down there and you and your two men stay there and camp out if you have to. Find a place to stay under cover until they relieve you. I said, well, what am I supposed to do? He said Desoto’s across there at Palomas and also at Antelope Wells. If anything happens, you’re supposed to take over any soldiers that cross. Or anything else.

So, I went down there and fortunately we had a house to stay in that the people had moved out of. And there was a battalion between Columbus and one company of the Mexican army was at Antelope Wells. I went down and met the Major and told him the situation and he said, “I know, we’re not going to have a revolution here. If we do I’ll take care of it. But I do need to send some officers over to Antelope Wells at times.” I said, “
fine, let me know when they’re going, who the Commanding Officer is, and they can go back and forth. But nobody else is supposed to cross except during Port hours, as usual, and the man in charge of the Port is away right now so I’ll take care of the Port of Entry also.” So it was quiet and peaceful for about 15 or 16 days.

They had one fellow down there that bragged that he could cross whenever he wanted to. Said he had been deported two or three times and that the Border Patrol was scared of him. And he would drive around Palomas waving his gun around bragging about how rough he was. So, we got word that he was crossing every morning about seven o’clock – the Port opened at eight – and would drive around Columbus and drive back and claim he saw the Border Patrol and they were scared to stop him. I didn’t think that was too good for our image, so one morning we waited and followed him back down about a hundred yards from the Port of Entry from Palomas and stopped him. I took him out of his car and walked him on foot all the way back to the border and told the man at the garrison there that he needed to send somebody to go back and get his car and let it stay there. If he is going to kill a Border Patrolman, if he crosses again then we’ll shoot him next time in self—defense. So that stopped everything. It was very quiet and peaceful the rest of the time we were there. People crossed at the Port and asked permission to go on if they needed permission. And we had quite a peaceful time there.

TC: How long were you there, all together?
RD: We were there about 16 or 17 days. And finally the Chief wrote a letter saying as soon as you get this letter, consider the situation as back to normal in Mexico so go back to Deming and go to work. So we did.

TC: And you never did get to go to Kansas?
RD: Well, I was coming back from Kansas from vacation. I think I was the only Border Patrolman on the Mexican Border that was on vacation at that time. The Chief didn’t know where I was, but he actually knew where he could get hold of me. But he didn’t see any reason – he told the District Director that I’d be there without any trouble in plenty of time. It would take 24 hours to get there, at the longest. So I came on back to work. But we tried to keep things quiet and peaceful in the Patrol at that time.

TC: When did you get married in your career?
RD: I got married in 1930.

TC: Oh, before you were in the Patrol.
RD: Oh, yes. My wife and I had been married 51 years when she died. After I left the Patrol I went over to the Bridge as an Inspector and then after the war I was assigned to the District Office from then on as an Investigator and Hearing Officer and Special Inquiry Officer. I had details as far as New York City and San Francisco and various places, Washington, D.C. But that was just part of my job.

TC: Were you sorry that you left the Border Patrol, or was it a good move?
RD: No, actually at that time a Senior was making $2300 a year, which was good wages, but there was no automatic increase or anything else. And it was just a little jump to go over to the Bridge because there you had five steps: $2100, $2300, $2500, $2700, $3000. But it was written into law that only a certain percentage of all the Inspectors in the country could be at $3000, a small percentage at $2700, and all the rest could be up to $2500. So, by leaving the Patrol I could get at least a $200 increase in pay, and, hopefully, if I worked at it I could go on up to $2700 or $3000 a year. So I went in the Army, and when I came back, I think it was around $3400 a year. That was big money. I went into the Army in 1943, in March and served 33 months. I had 22 months in the Southwest Pacific.

TC: What did you do there?
RD: I went in on the invasion of the Philippines one night before D—Day and took a squad ashore and came back out. There was nobody more scared in the American army that night than I was. And then I was in charge of the signal center there, the cryptographic part of it, for the rest of the time until I came back. And I had been in the cryptographic section in Hawaii for several months in headquarters there, Fort Shafter, and so I had 13 months in the Philippines. We went over for one detail and helped instruct the Philippine constabulary, which they were reforming, in cryptography. And theirs was the 5th signal Company of the Philippine Constabulary. And they were the only unit in the entire Philippine Army that fought together as a unit all through World War II until we came back out there and stayed as a unit. And they were the unit that had contacted MacArthur in Australia and kept him informed of the gorilla activities all through the war and where the Japs were. It was a big help when we went back. And their Commander had been good enough that General MacArthur had sent him to West Point, he was a west Pointer. They had an Army field site they guarded 24 hours a day with armed guard. You couldn’t get close to it. So they thought enough of me that they had a parade one day, a review in my honor, and the Colonel told me, “We want to show you something we’ve shown no other American, enlisted man or officer.” I was a Tech Sargeant, and he opened up there was the code they had used to contact MacArthur all during the war in Australia. And Officer Maginney. They were going to put it in the Philippine archives, I’m sure it is there now. And it was the nearest thing to a foolproof code you could use because you only use one setup for one message. You never used it again. And unless somebody captured the book it would do them no good because the Americans asked them to use different ones. It was that way off and on, so there was no way in the world you could break the code. If you broke it you just broke one message and that was all. They were very proud of that.
Then I came back, mostly here in El Paso, I instructed in a few investigations school two or three times because I was told to and once because I got drafted at the last minute.

TC: Were they here in El Paso?
RD: No, San Antonio and one here and Long Beach and one down at Port Isabel when they had the school down there. They had an Investigations school there and one of the instructors got sick that normally instructed on criminal immoral narcotic setup, Immigration and also on Communism. And so I was drafted. Mr. Adams, who was later District Director here and was in charge of the school, he didn’t know me. So he called me down there and said that Regional Personnel Officer Tom Rooney said that I would take one of those classes and teach them. I said that I didn’t know a thing in the world about them. Well, they had the thing written out there. And, well, he said that they said that you could do it and would you even try? I said that it I would be waste of their time and mine. And about that time the phone rang and it was Merrill Toole, the Deputy Regional Commissioner. He said, is Russell sitting there? Yes. Is he lying to you? He said, I don’t know. So, I picked up the extension phone and said, “Merrill, how could I lie about something like this?” He said, “Because you wrote the damn book.”

TC: Is that true?
RD: I had written a thing at that time, but another fellow had taken it over in the Regional Offices and changed two paragraphs and put his name on there. He was the alleged author but I had written it.

TC: A book on what?
RD: On the Criminal Immoral Narcotic Program. It is to get information on people on those categories and keep them out of the country. And, about that time Gordon Cornell, who was the Assistant District Director down there, came running in and said Merrill Toole called him and said you better get old Russell, he’s going to lie like everything. I said, well I did. so, I had about 30 minutes to prepare a lesson. I already knew the course anyway, so I taught it. I enjoyed instruction.

TC: Do you still have a copy of that book?
1W: No, I kept very few things when I retired, except I’m sure I do have some of those old assignment sheets. If I can find them I think they will be of interest to the museum. Is there anything else you can think of you would like to ask?

TC: Is there anything else you made notes on that you wanted to mention?
RD: Well, I would say I worked for two different Chief Patrol
Inspectors: H.C. Horsley, he had been a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Army and then came into the Border Patrol and he was Chief Patrol Inspector from 19—, well from the time I came in in 1936 until he retired in 1940. And then Griffith B. McBee came in as Chief Patrol Inspector. And both of them were fine men, just entirely opposite in the way they handled people. But they were both mighty good men and I was lucky to have worked under both of them.

TC: How did they differ in the way they handled men?
RD: Horsley was very quiet, he delegated practically all of his authority. McBee kept things pretty well under control. He knew what was going on and if you made a mistake with McBee or what he called simply ‘loused up,’ he told you about it one time so you understood it. You better not do it and have him tell you about it a second time, because if you did everybody in headquarters would know about it. He would be telling you about it at the top of his voice. He was a good man. I thought the world of him.

When they got orders that I could go over as an Immigrant Inspector he called me in, I was at Ysleta. He spent two hours telling me what an idiot I would be, or anybody else, to go over to the bridge as an Immigrant Inspector, because after all, that wasn’t the type of work I wanted and I knew that I could stay at Ysleta as long as I wanted to for various reasons and anybody could be on the bridge and pass traffic over there. And after about an hour and a half he said—

TC: An hour and a half!
RD: Oh, yes. So after all that time he said, you’re not going over to the bridge, are you? I said, yes. And so he spent another fifteen minutes telling me how stupid I was, which I appreciated. He said, Well, I got to go call Mr. Willmoth; when do you want to go? I said, how about tomorrow. So, he finally ended up telling me I never was worth a darn as a patrol inspector anyhow, so get on over to the bridge. We were good friends all the time after that. Except they didn’t want to lose me as a Senior, apparently.

TC: He tried.
RD: Oh, he did his best. I’m not going to use the language here that he used. I don’t want to shock you. They were mighty good men, I thought the world of both of them.

There was one man that I did overlook. After I got out of the Border patrol School in ‘36 they had what they called a smuggling detail. One of the inspectors in charge of it was a Border Patrolman, and Eugene P. Warren was the Immigrant Inspector and I worked with him until he got sick: about a month and a half. He had been the official interpreter for General Pershing when they went into Mexico after Poncho Villa and he told me that he told the General the first day — of course, General Pershing rode horses — it was all cavalry — “If you want me to interpret tomorrow, I’d better ride in the wagon or I’ll be so sore I can’t even interpret.” He told me had never ridden a horse. But I think he finally knew more about the Mexican people than anybody that I ever worked with.

TC: Eugene P. Warren? I’ve never heard of him.
RD: He’s been dead many years. He was one of the old Chinese Inspectors, too, before that. You could be driving down the street with him and see some man there and ask where that man from is? Oh, he’s from Chihuahua. You would see some other man or woman going down the street and ask where they were from. Probably from Guadalajara. You would stop and ask them and that’s where they were from. Now, how he could tell, I don’t know and he couldn’t tell you. But he could spot where they were from in Mexico just from watching them walk along the street. He wouldn’t miss one in ten. And he liked to try to help me — to educate me. Anytime we would talk to somebody, I would talk as much as I could in Spanish and he would help me because I was just out of school and I couldn’t. He said, if there is any question, I’m going to take over the questioning. Why don’t we ask them this. And so it worked out very well. I learned more from him than I did the next two years from the fellows that I worked with. He took time to teach me and it was interesting. If you went into some Mexican

home — of course, I’d never been around Catholics too much, and they had their various things there for the Catholic religion, different things. He talked to me and explained what these things were and what they meant to the Mexican people. So I got a background into the Mexican people that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, except over a great many years. And through him, I kept up my interest in learning Spanish and more law. I think he was one of the best instructors I ever had. After I went over to the bridge as inspector he kept me over there all the time, and when I was chairman of the Board of Special Inquiry before I went into the Army, he was one of the three members on the board for quite a while. He was one of the most outstanding men I ever met in the Immigration Service.

TC: You said he died quite a while ago?
RD: Yes. I think his widow still lives at the valley(???), but all she would have would be stuff on Immigration, not on the Border Patrol. I understand you contacted Mrs. Crossett — Egbert Crossett’s widow?

TC: No, I don’t think I have, maybe somebody else did. His son came down. Sue might have.
RD: I was told she had been contacted. She would probably have a lot of things that Egbert had. She told whoever it was that she would be glad to give them everything that she had.
I think that is all I can think of. Unless you can think of something else.

TC: You’ve been wonderful.

Transcribed by Roberta Shasteen May 1989
Edited by Terrie Cornell, August 1989

Stephen W. Duda

Mr. Duda gave the following information concerning his Border Patrol and Immigration Service career at his home in Albany, New York on an undisclosed date in 1988. His responses were made to a prepared list of questions given to him in advance by the National Border Patrol Museum.

Tape was transcribed by Nary Anne Wright on 9-7-88 and edited on 10-24-88 by Ms. Terrie Cornell. Reproduced in its current format by members of the National Border Patrol Museum on May 14, 2009.

My name is Stephen W. Duda. I was born September 1, 1913, in Dunmore, Pennsylvania. My father was Hillary Duda; my mother was Anastasia Duda. Both parents were born in Poland and immigrated to the United States in the early 1900’s. My father was a coal miner in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and my mother was a housewife up to 1919 at which time they bought a farm in Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania. My father died in October, 1971. My mother, who is now 97 years of age, is still living and has a keen and lively mind.

I grew up from 1913—1919 in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, and subsequently at the farm in Lake Ariel, Pa.

No, I have no college. I graduated from Lake Vocational High School, Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania, in 1933 during the depression years and there was no money. It was impossible to enter any college at that time. Therefore I went to work for the Grand Union Company food markets as a manager both in Scranton, Pennsylvania; Monticello, New York; Corning, New York and Elmira, New York. In 1939, while managing the Scranton, Pennsylvania, store I took the Civil Service examination, which was head lined Junior Investigator for Customs Patrol, Customs Inspector, and Immigration Border Patrol. I was appointed to the Immigration Border Patrol in 1940 as an Immigration Border Patrol Inspector.

I became a Border Patrolman because I enjoyed the outdoor life of a Border Patrol Inspector and the fact, having knowledge of the Slavic languages; I thought I would be an asset to the Immigration Service. I reported on duty in August, 1940, at Derby Line, Vermont.

I entered on duty as a Patrol Inspector at a salary of $2,000. per year.

What training class were you in, and where? I attended the U.S. Immigration Border Patrol academy in El Paso, Texas, from October 15, 1940 to December 1, 1940. Note: I will attach my travel itinerary from Derby Line, Vermont, to the Border Patrol academy. It will be on a separate tape, because it is rather lengthy traveling with three other Patrol Inspectors from Derby Line to El Paso, Texas, to attend the academy.

During WWII, much of the time I spent was in Ellis Island, New York, and the Greenbriar Hotel, West Virginia, guarding and transporting enemy aliens. Where were you on December 7, 1941? I was being transferred from Island Pond, Vermont, to Swanton, Vermont, where I was stationed on December 7, 1941, and according to my diary it was my day off on account of Sunday this date.

Where were you stationed and at what ranks? I was stationed in Swanton, Beecher Falls, Richford, and Island Pond, Vermont, as an Immigration Border Patrol Inspector.

What details were you sent on? I was sent on various details too numerous to mention, checking lumber camps in the states of New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, in addition to enemy alien details and deportation of aliens from the Canadian border to New York.

Where you detailed to any of the Civil Rights marches? No, I was never detailed to any Civil rights marches. Up on the Canadian border we had no civil rights problems.

My expertise in the Immigration Border Patrol was competitive pistol shooting both in the United States and Canada against the Canadian Mounties, and also sign cutting along the Canadian border.

What officers did you work with and which ones impressed you the most?

I worked with numerous officers on the border, too numerous to mention names. The one that impressed me most was one James Clancy, Senior Patrol Inspector who impressed me the most because he was a 24 hour Border Patrol Inspector, since about 1924. He was one of the original Border Patrol officers. Unfortunately he is now deceased.

How many chiefs did you work under and who were they? I worked under three different Chief Patrol Inspectors from 1940 to August, 1951, at which time I was promoted to Criminal Investigator at St. Albans, Vermont. The chiefs were Alfonse Fuller, Derby Line, Vermont; Eugene Lincort, who was stationed in Rouses Point, New York: and also Chet Woish, who was also chief after Lincort left at Rouses Point, New York.

What supervisory positions did you have? I was supervisory Criminal Investigator, also acting as Senior Patrol Inspector on the Canadian border.

What were the frightening situations that you can remember and the funniest? Well, I had numerous funny ones and many frightening ones. The most frightening ones as I can remember were on four different occasions when I was attacked by illegal aliens from European countries attempting to enter the United States from Canada who were in possession of knives, clubs, and some with guns after bank robberies in Canada. It forced me and my brother officers to pull our guns out of the holsters and that prevented them from attacking me or my brother officer. The funniest were several. However, one of interest was finding a car with a male and female in the car parked in the back country roads near the Canadian border on the old smuggling roads, suspected of being a smuggler. After about a three hour wait in the hideout by Senior Patrol Inspector Clancy and myself, the Senior took a walk under the cover of darkness quietly to check the car to determine whether or not it was a suicide case or what. He found that the driver was in the car and when Patrol Inspector asked what he was doing there, the driver responded, stating, “Nothing, we’re just doing a little necking.” Senior Patrol Inspector Clancy told them, “Put your neck in your pants and go on home. It’s cold to be out here watching you lovers in the back country roads.” I thought that was funny, especially under the cover of darkness and you hear the old man speak out to the waiting lovers. Probably they had in mind to bring some illegal aliens, but after a three hour wait we had to check it.

Did you remain in the Border Patrol? What areas did you work for the Immigration Service?

I remained in the Border Patrol from August, 1940, to August, 1951, at which time I was promoted to Investigator and stationed in St. Albans, Vermont, through 1956 at which time I was transferred to Albany, New York. I worked with other officers on details on enemy alien work. Also detailed to the US consulate office in Toronto, Canada, and the US Embassy in Ottawa,Canada,1960 through 1965 periodically. Mostly the details were in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

To me, the Border Patrol is one of the finest law enforce­ment agencies, especially for young men who get the proper training and enjoy outdoor life. Yes, I would do it again if I was a younger man and encourage any young man to get into the profession. It is interesting work and exciting.

Would you have liked to have seen any changes during your Border Patrol career? I certainly would. I would have liked to have changed and done away with Service politics and favoritism. That is not a healthy situation. Give every Border Patrol Inspector a fair deal is my motto, to encourage others to advance while in the Border Patrol.

How much and what type of support did your wife give you? My God, she gave me real support, more than 100%, due to my irregular working hours, details away from home, stationed in small isolated villages and towns, in fact upon my retirement she was the recipient of a nice plaque which was presented to Helen N. Duda in recognition for her many years of distinguished and dedicated service to her husband during his many years of government service as a US Immigration officer in the US Department of Justice, 1940—1978. That was a quotation on the plaque. It shows that some of my friends and co—workers thought a lot of my wife as a real Immigration Patrol Inspector’s wife. I wish more of you fellows would have the quality of woman I was married to. It is now 47 years since we have been married.

What did you do after leaving the Border Patrol? After leaving the Border Patrol in August, 1951, I was promoted and assigned to St. Albans, Vermont, district office which covered the state of Vermont as an Investigator, northern New Hampshire, Maine, Quebec City, Montreal, and seven northern counties along the Canadian border. Yes, my wife saw me on week—ends only as I was on the road conducting investigations from St. Albans in the district office area. About 1956, I was transferred to Albany, New York, where I eventually became a supervisor Criminal Investigator with 20 counties under my jurisdiction through to January, 1978, at which time I retired.

I mentioned previously that I would dictate our itinerary going to the Border Patrol academy in El Paso, Texas, from Derby Line, Vermont, where we were stationed. I traveled with Patrol Inspector Everett Butterfield, Roland Bell, and Lloyd Matson. We left Derby Line on October 15, in the Patrol car furnished by the Patrol sector destined for El Paso, Texas. I had cash on hand $27. We left at 6am and had breakfast which cost me $.20, lunch$.50, supper $.50. Also I bought some apples on the road at

$.25. We traveled that first day 593 miles. We lodged at Erie, Pennsylvania, YMCA where we paid $1.00 per night, having arrived there at 9pm. We left Erie, Pennsylvania, on the 16th of October at 6:15am, drove through to Indianapolis, Indiana, where we stayed in cabins at Indianapolis. In fact, I had to register for the conscription at Mento, Ohio, birthplace of President Garfield. Had breakfast $.35, lunch $.55, supper $.45. Cabins cost us $.85 per person. On the 17th of October, we left at 6:05am, Indianapolis, Indiana. We had breakfast at $.35, lunch at Highland, Illinois, at $.55, supper at Waynesville, Missouri, at $.45. We slept in cabins at Springfield, Missouri, for which we paid $1.00. We traveled 492 miles this date. On the 18th of October, we left Springfield, Missouri, at 6:15 am, had breakfast that cost us $.32, and went through Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, Oklahoma. We had dinner at the Mason Hotel, there observed and looked over the largest collection of guns in the United States. Dinner cost us $.50 apiece, we toured through Oklahoma City, which has many oil wells throughout the business district. Supper we had at El Reno which cost us $.60 and we spent the night at Elks City, Oklahoma, in cabins which were very poor — bed bugs, cockroaches and what not — but cost us a $1.00. We traveled this date 468 miles. 19th of October we left at 6:20 am, Elks city, Oklahoma, had breakfast at $.35, lunch at Bolvina, Texas, an ideal western restaurant, took picture of dining room and the goat near by. Had supper at Tularosa, New Mexico, which cost us $.25 there, spent the night at Alamogordo, New Mexico, very nice cabins, cost $1.50 a night. Mileage traveled this day 409 miles. On the 20th of October we left Alamogordo, New Mexico, at 10:15 am after having breakfast at the cost of $.25. We arrived at El Paso, Texas, at 12:20 pm at which time we traveled today 105 miles to El Paso city. We registered at the Hotel Vogel, 314 West Missouri Street, El Paso. We secured a room and board at $35.00 per month.

We had dinner and got cleaned up and had the car washed and reported to the Immigration Patrol school and met Inspector Bowman who was in charge of the rifle instruction. He gave us instructions to report at 7:45 am on Monday the 21st, as that was their ruling at the academy on the southern border. We had supper at Waters Drug Store, as Sunday supper was not available at the Hotel Vogel. Telephone at that time for the Vogel Hotel was Main 2217. We left the car in charge of Chief Patrolmen at the El Paso Border Patrol Academy, total mileage traveled from Derby Line to El Paso, Texas, training school was 2588 miles. 21st of October, went to school at 7:45am, received instructions in what uniforms were needed to attend this school. It was to be a river uniform, total cost of $4.00 and gym uniform – shirt, shorts, jock strap, sweat shirt, and gym shoes — bought whole gym outfit from assistant physical instructor Porver, paid $3.00 for that. Had to get a passport photograph on white background and give to Mr. Nelson for placing on the picture board.

I had to buy a French book that cost $1.45 and also various notebooks. Mr. Nelson was in charge of the training school, Mr. Jackson was Physical trainer, Mr. Murphy was fingerprinting, Miss Virginia King was French instructor, Mr. Wilmouth was pamphlet and law instructions, Mr. Watkins — Immigration Law instructions, Mr. Box — physical form instructions, Mr. Smith — radio code and maintenance, Mr. Bowman — rifle instructor, Mr. Tommy Box— pistol instructor, Mr. Carpenter — Border Patrol investigations, Mr. Adcock – traffic inspections, Mr. Allen — official forms.

October 22, regular scheduled school, climbed the look-out tower and took pictures of various sights on the Mexico side of the border and the Texas. October 23, regular schedule of instructions at the school. The Border Patrol Academy at El Paso, Texas, divided 100 men attending the school into groups of 50, Groups A & B. I was put in Group B with all the St. Albans district officers. October 24, regular schedule of instructions at the school, 8 am—6 pm. 25th was also regular schedule of instructions at the school from B am—6 pm, 26th was also regular schedule of instructions at the school 8 am—6 pm. 27th of October was regular schedule also at the school: rifle shooting, 5 shots a piece, I tied 2nd place 4 out of 5 shots about 150 yard distance or 450 feet. 28th October, 8 am—6 pm, regular schedule of instruction at the school. Evenings, every Monday and Thursday, I took French lessons with Miss White and Miss King at 2917 silver Street, as I had difficulties getting French. It was wrong in the first place to give us Parisian French when we should have had Canadian French stationed on the border. They use the slang French up on the Canadian border, not the real Parisian. 29th of October, also attending regular scheduled school of instructions. Rifle shooting on the range this time 10 shots sitting and 5 shots kneeling. I received top place by shooting 14 out of 15 shots at a distance 200 yards. 30th of October 8 am—6 pm regular schedule of instructions at the school.

We had a little excitement while in school when we had physical training from 5—6PM when the Patrolman in the lookout tower notified the Patrol of a peculiar action of a man along the Rio Grande river on the Texas side. When inspected, it was a Chinaman having cut his arteries in both arms trying to commit suicide. All the Patrolmen discontinued rehearsal and two of them took the stretcher and brought the Chinaman from the banks of the Rio Grande and proceeded with him to the hospital as he was still living, with the instructions of physical instructor Jackson and Texas police. About then, a large crowd gathered about the incident and was dispersed.

On the 31st was a day off in lieu of Sunday, October 27. I took

a trip to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico which is about 170 miles from El Paso and the largest caverns in the world. November 21and 23, inclusive, were all at the academy.

Stopped at Abilene, Texas, at 8 pm central time, ate supper, and stayed at the Hotel Grace at Abilene. Paid $1.25 for the room. Left on the 25th of November, at 6:30am central standard time and traveled 545 miles. Stayed overnight at Little Rock, Arkansas, at the King Put cottages for which we paid $1.00 for the room, arriving there at 9:20pm central standard time. 26th of November, left Little Rock, Arkansas, at 6:15am and traveled 587 miles to Knoxville, Tennessee, where we stayed overnight at the Mimer Hotel for $1.00 per night. Arrived at the hotel at 9:30pm. 27th of November, left Knoxville at 7 am and traveled 538 miles to Washington, D.C., where we spent the night at the Maples, 2826 Bladensburg Rd., N.E., Washington, D.C., arriving there at 10:30 pm Eastern Standard time. It was very slow driving due to icy roads over the Virginia mountains. Room was $1.00 per night. On the 28th of November, we left Washington, D.C., at 6:15 am and drove by way of Baltimore, Maryland, through Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, and arrived at New Haven, Connecticut, at 3:30pm Eastern standard time having crossed the Henry Hudson Cross—town Bridge and Hudson River Parkway to Merritt Parkway. Total mileage was treacherous, Stayed overnight at the Mimer Hotel in New Haven, Conn., at a cost of $1.25 a night. 29th of November, left New Haven, Conn., at 7:am and traveled through to Derby Line, Vermont, arriving there at 9:45pm. Total mileage 326 miles. On Sat. Nov. the 30th, 1940, had a half a day off, also for Saturday Nov. 23, and Saturday, Nov. 30 at which time we were assigned to different stations throughout the sub-district. My official station was to Richford, Vermont.

Having reported to Richford, Vermont, on December 1, 1940, after returning from school, I worked lpm—6pm, and 6:3Opm-9:3Opm doing motor patrol work through Richford, Enosburg Falls, and Sheldon Junction, East Berkshire and West Berkshire, Vermont, with Patrol Inspector Marshall Lovelette, who was one of the older Patrol Inspectors at that station.

Now, I made mention that I have a diary of everyday that I have worked for the Immigration and Naturalization Service from September 1940 to date. This was done on the advice of one of the old time Senior Patrol Inspectors who advised me to keep a diary, nobody can pin anything on you for some unknown excuse to get you in trouble. Therefore ltd advise anybody who works for Uncle Sam to keep a diary so he can pinpoint just what he did and where he was during the period of accusation. I am enclosing some pictures of myself in uniform, 1940-41, at which time we had to wear breeches and boots. I am sending the boots down, and as soon as I locate the breeches I will mail those down also. I also have a pair of skis and attached boots which I used for line checking or sign cutting along the Canadian border during the winter months. I preferred using the skis over snow shoes when checking the boundary lines for any activity across the border. If you desire to have those skis I’d be glad to mail them down to the Museum. If there is something else I can do to make that great Museum of ours a great success that our grandchildren will admire and enjoy seeing what our Immigration Border Patrol Off icers did for many years. Thank you.

Walter Egbert

Walter Egbert entered the U.S. Border Patrol at El Paso, Texas as a member of the 60th Academy class which was in training from June to August 1955. Other members of his class included Jack Gorman, and Clarence Cooper. Interview was conducted at the National Border Patrol Museum on May 14, 1987 by Ms.Terrie Cornell.

WE – I started in the Border Patrol because I had been working in San Antonio and a friend of mine who was in Security for Sears Roebuck knew about the Border Patrol exam and suggested that I try it. He thought it was one of the finest jobs that a person could get, and if he at the time, hadn’t been too old for the entrance qualifications, he would have gone to the Border Patrol himself. He talked me into going down and taking the exam. Shortly thereafter I was called into the Patrol in May of 1955 and went the usual route to El Paso for training and then Laredo for my first station.

TC – Where was the school at that time?
WE:Out near Fort Bliss, in that area. McClaren was in charge of the school at that time. Some of my instructors included Mike Maffeo, Jones, and then they had several civilian instructors, too, who taught Spanish and some of the other subjects that we studied. After serving part of my probation in Laredo, they started me on the flying program. While I was in Laredo, I worked with Charlie Henderson as an observer in his plane and he tried his best to check me out in the Super Cub, but the last plane I had flown prior to coming into the Border Patrol was an Air Force B—29. It was a little bit difficult for me to drop down from the B—29 into the Super Cub. But later on that same year they sent me to Brownsville to work on the airlift, C—47 and C-46’s.

TC: Before we get into that, let’s back up. You learned to fly in the Air Force during World War II.
WE:That’s true. I was in normal cadet training. I went in the Air Force in 1942 and finished my training in ‘43 — class of ‘43K — and immediately went to Fort Worth for B-24 training. The crew was made up in March Field, California, and from California we went to Miami and then South America, Africa, and on over to India. I flew approximately half of my missions bombing in Burma with the B-24’s. When the weather was too bad to do any bombing in Burma, we carried gas. We transported gasoline across the Hump into China for the fighter pilots and the night radar planes, P—61, P—51, and P-40’s.

They had a regular Hump transport division that carried gasoline and supplies across the Hump in C-47’s, C-46’s, and DC—6, but they would call upon the bombers to augment that service when we couldn’t do anything else. After I returned from India in ‘45, I went into several different lines of work and many places before coming into the Border Patrol in 1955.

PC: When did you get married? After the War?
WE:While I was a cadet in 1942, and we had our first child at the end of ‘43. I came back from overseas in ‘45, got out in ‘45 and our daughter was born a little later and then quite a bit prior to coming in the Border Patrol, our second son, and third child was born. We had three children and normal World War II veteran experiences —just run of the mill.

TC: So in Laredo they had already put you in as a Pilot?
WE:No, in Laredo I was on probation as a Patrol Inspector, a Probie, and went through regular on—the-job training and tried to learn Sign—Cutting, Spanish, and Law. Sign—Cutting was easy but Spanish and Law weren’t so easy. I didn’t have too much trouble with Law, but Spanish was extremely hard for me for some reason. So, I guess in order to get their money’s worth out of me, they made a Pilot out of me.

PC: Where you wouldn’t have to speak too much Spanish?
WE:Wouldn’t have to speak too much Spanish! Going on the airlift was a break for me because I understood the larger planes and I could handle them better than I could the Cub. I stayed on the airlift until I got my regular rating, pilot’s rating, and then I alternated between the airlift and Sector flying the rest of my career.

PC: Did you ever fly the Super Cub?
WE:Yes, later on I flew in Sector in the Super Cub, the DeHavilland Beaver, the Cessna, the cessna on floats, the C—45, and the Mooney. we tried out a Mooney for a while and several other planes. The Patrol tried out and bought various and sundry brands of observation planes trying to develop the best. Super Cub Is still the best observation plane as far as a standard, conventional plane is concerned. I am sure the helicopters are much more efficient in certain areas.

PC: But you went in on the airlift when it started?
WE:I think it had been running at least a year, possibly two years, and prior to my entry.

PC: You went in what year?
WE:In 1956, April of ‘56 I went to Brownsville. Then in January of ‘58 I went to Richmond, Virginia, and flew the C—45 out of Richmond for a while.

PC: Can you tell me more about that?
WE:Well, it was a combination job, mainly to fly personnel from Richmond down into the Southeast Region for inspection trips that was the main purpose.

PC: What kind of personnel?
WE:Immigration and Border Patrol personnel, Central Office personnel, Southeast Regional personnel. Instead of trying to charter planes for flights that would come up unexpectedly we would use our own planes, and at times, it saved the men quite a bit of time, and in some cases, money. But most of the time it was a matter of convenience and time saving.

TC: who did you fly around, any VIP’s?
WE:Yes, a few. Commissioner Jackson was there when I was there, and Tommy Ball and George Klemke were in the Region at the time.

TC: How long were you in Richmond?
WE:Just a year and from there I was transferred to New Orleans.

PC: Didn’t you mention yesterday something about Jimmy Hoffa?
WE:Well, that was later on, that was 1961.

PC: All right, let’s go in chronological sequence.
WE:When I was in Richmond, that was part of the Cuban revolution, and I flew down into Florida quite a bit. Our attempt was to control any flying that came from the United States to Cuba illegally, dropping leaflets and smuggling arms.

TC: These were anti—castro?
WE:Anti—castro forces, yes.

PC: Were they Cubans living in this country?
WE:Some were and some were Americans sympathetic to Batista or sympathetic to anti—Castro forces. But I wasn’t nearly as involved in that as the people stationed in Florida. Most of the Border Patrol and Customs people stationed in Florida were more involved.

PC: How would you prevent them? Intercept them in some way?
WE:We tried to contact the rental agencies at the airports and ask them to let us know if they were renting an airplane to certain types of individuals, and maybe we could intercept them before they took off and keep them from dropping the propaganda leaflets. It was just a hit or miss proposition, but we stopped some of them. It was partly to stem the publicity of any involvement that we might have had. I didn’t know all the politics at the time, but I’m sure it was quite involved

Occasionally I would work with the people in Florida even though I was stationed in Richmond. I would work in that area attempting to show the men on the ground how to prevent illegal aliens from being smuggled in by air. We had some aliens being smuggled in by air all along the Southern border, and they attempted to set up an interception program, and were successful in many cases, but it was again pretty hit and miss because our radar system — Air Force radar — wasn’t too good in those days and the Border Patrol had no radar at all.

PC: What do you mean by intercepting them?
WE:Find out the airport they intended to land and try to intercept them and arrest them, smuggler as well as the illegal aliens. Occasionally we would try to follow them in the air, but usually the smuggler’s plane would out—run us. Later on during our Operation Intercept we found out just how fast some of the smuggler’s planes were, because quite a few of our intercept planes were Beech Barons which were relatively fast for executive—type planes, but we couldn’t keep up with some of the Aero Commanders and some of the faster smugglers’ planes.

TC: They weren’t using jets yet?
WE:I think they were. I don’t think we ever captured any jets during that time, but my personal opinion was that they were using jets. In the New Orleans Sector, I flew the Dehavilland Beaver on floats, it was a combination, an amphibious plane. Even though it was slow, it was a very fine airplane, easy to fly and very sturdy. I could patrol in New Orleans Sector and land at any of the smaller airports or large ones — it didn’t matter. I could land on the canals or occasionally out in the Gulf. It was an interesting year in New Orleans.

TC: How many Sector pilots were in New Orleans?
WE:Just me. In New Orleans, when I wasn’t flying, I worked with the men on the ground by inspecting ships and looking for deserted seamen and stow-aways.
Pc: Did you land out in the water to look at ships?
WE: I would land to check certain areas. I had to be careful about landing. Most of the time I was flying by myself and the canals were full of tree stumps, wires, and so forth, so I had to know where the other pilots on float planes landed. Most of the canals were fairly free, but the float plane could be damaged if you hit an under—water obstacle of any kind. It was vulnerable. The floats were fairly tough, but if you hit something like a tree stump, you could puncture the float and damage the airplane. I did land occasionally at shrimp platforms and some of the oil well rigs to check workers.

TC: All by yourself?
WE:Not too often — those places were checked mostly by our boats. We had a crew working either by boat or they would check the workers as they left the airport to go to the rigs, so that wasn’t much of a problem. Mainly just patrolling and checking the airports in New Orleans. From there I went back to the airlift in Brownsville for a short stint — two years, I believe. I was in New Orleans one year. In 1960, I went back to Air Operations and flew in the Brownsville area the C—47’s and C—46’s and DC—4, C—54.

PC: Where did you fly them, chiefly?
WE:Mainly from Brownsville to El Paso to El Centro and back, or Brownsville to Chicago and back. Brownsville to New York or New Jersey. Newark, New Jersey, was a turn—around spot and the Investigators and Border Patrol people in that area would bring the aliens out to the airplane and we would take them back to Brownsville for processing and deportation to Mexico. Sometimes we would take Canadians north on our flight. Deportation from Brownsville to Canada.

TC: Did you fly into Canada?
WE:No. But probably the most Canadians I recall have been ten or fifteen on one flight, usually one or two or maybe a half dozen.

PC: They got all the way down to Brownsville?
WE:They would go all over the country. They were like the snow birds — they go south for the winter and north for the summer. When it gets too cold to be a con artist in Canada, Canadians come south and they become con artists in Texas and New Mexico. Quite a few of them were running away from Canadian law and some were just out for a lark, just hitch—hiking around over the country. Some had criminal records, but quite a few were paper hangers, they just wrote checks all over the country and just lived on their methods of existence. That trip my wife was telling you about — the female Canadian had her believing that she was mistreated and such a fine, upstanding young lady. She had a record a page long. She was a hot check artist. I don’t know what all she had on her record, she was a little bit of everything.

TC: This was when your wife went along as a Matron?
WE:Right. She was on a trip one time from Brownsville to Chicago. Any time we had female prisoners on board, we had to have a Matron on board for the protection of the prisoner as well as protection of the officers on the airplane – just rules and regulations.

TC: Certainly. If she was a con artist, there’s no telling what she will do.
WE: Thy come up with all kinds of stories.

PC: Your wife wasn’t paid to do that?
WE:No, I believe she was paid per diem to cover her expenses, but no salary of any kind, just volunteer work.

PC: Did she enjoy it?
WE: Yes. She found out that she got airsick real easily, but she enjoyed the trip. We ran into a little weather, it got a little bumpy. The C-46’s, the C—47’s, and the DC-4’s, none of those were pressurized, so you couldn’t fly above the weather. You had to just barrel on through. Normally our flights were around 8,000, 10,000, 12,000 feet and that’s where the rough air is most of the time.

PC: Did you have some real bad flights — real bumpy?
WE:Yes, I could really say that we had quite a few bumpy flights. After we got the Convairs and the DC—6 – then we could fly on up to 15, 16, 20,000 feet, no problem then.

TC: When did you get those?
WE:In 1965 or 1966.

PC: Quite a bit after the airlift had started. When did you fly to Europe?
WE:That was on the C—54.

PC: Was that one pressurized?
WE:No. It was approximately the early 60’s and some of the pilots made numerous trips: John Landry, I think Ed Parker, I believe Phil Pring made some trips. But Paul Green was on almost all of the overseas flights because he was Flight Engineer. The bad part about Paul’s job was that he had to be on duty on every take-off and every landing, and also the refueling. So for example, we would leave New York at 3 or 4 o’clock Sunday morning and wouldn’t get to Athens, Greece, until the following Tuesday. We would be in the air except for landing and deplaning passengers, and refueling. We weren’t allowed to stay overnight anywhere because we had other aliens from other countries on board. So Paul was on duty on the original take-off, every landing, and every take—off from then on until we got to Athens. So he could cat—nap, but he couldn’t really get any decent sleep for about two or two and a half days.

PC: You had two crews?
WE:We had two full crews, generally speaking, we only had one Engineer. Quite often the other pilots would spell him if they could, so he could get some rest. But the two years that the overseas flights went on, in my own opinion, took five or ten years off of Paul’s life.

PC: It was only two years that they went overseas?
WE:To my knowledge, the DC—4 flew only for two years.

PC: But it was physically draining.
WE:It was very tiring, very tiring for even the relief crews. It’s difficult to get any real decent sleep on board. I remember after we would get there, usually everyone would sack out for sometimes as much as twelve, fifteen, or twenty hours before they really felt like doing any walking around or sight—seeing or anything. Generally, we had two days at the end of the line before we started back. The return trip wasn’t quite as tiring. Sometimes we would bring refugees back with us so that the plane wouldn’t come back empty. I remember one time Yul Bryner had a program about bringing refugees back to this country. Then we flew several plane loads of refugees sponsored by him.

PC: Would these be Hungarian refugees?
WE:Hungarian and I think some Polish. I am not sure of the details, but I remember he was quite involved in that program and he met the airplane once or twice in New York as the refugees off loaded.

These flights were very interesting but they were awfully tiring. The plane had quite a bit of room and it was very well equipped -it had bunks and medical facilities, and we always had interpreters from the New York office. Some of the ladies spoke six or seven languages and were extremely well—qualified. We always had a doctor on board. Some of the doctors were unqualified in my opinion but they took care of the sick aliens.

TC: You said you were first a co—pilot?
WE:Yes. Normally speaking, when the Sector pilot was assigned to the airlift, he would work as a co—pilot. If he didn’t have commercial or twin engine rating, he would perhaps go through on the job training in order to work into a regular First Pilot or Pilot Commander position. But I had had twin—engine and four engine training so it was fairly easy for me to convert from the little bit of Sector flying that I had in Laredo over to the airlift flying. It wasn’t any problem going to the twin engine or the four engine flying, but I had to get my civilian commercial license in order to qualify as a regular airlift pilot and also to get my Border Patrol pilot training, Something like two years or three years after I came into the Patrol, I got my pilot training and I was checked out in C-47’s and C-46’s and eventually the DC— 4 and the Convair and the DC-6. If they needed extra pilots or somebody retired or if someone went from the airlift back to being a Border Patrolman or back to Sector, then they would choose from the other pilots, either the most qualified or the one who wanted to be on the airlift. They would try to find somebody who thought he might like the large planes or might be real well—qualified to fly the larger planes.

PC: How many times did you fly over to Europe?
WE:I think I made two trips into Athens, Greece; two trips into Vienna, Austria; and I made several trips down into Central America; and Guatemala.

TC: Did you take that Mafia man down there?
WE:No, I wasn’t on that flight. Some of my friends were on it. I think Paul Green and John Landry. I think they left from New Orleans.

PC: Where did you fly into Central America?
WE:One time we went into Cuba after Castro had taken over. Bob Walker and I flew into Havana with some Cuban deportees. We were in uniform and the people who met the plane were, or appeared to be sixteen to twenty years old with sub—machine guns and that was kind of a nervous flight for me. I didn’t care for it.

TC: Were you the pilot?
WE:No, Bob Walker was the pilot and I was the co-pilot on that flight.

PC: How long were you in Havana?
WE:Just long enough to file a flight plan and come back.

PC: You did that once?
WE:Just one time to my knowledge. That was the only time I was there.

TC: You didn’t fly into Guantanamo?
WE:I never have been there. We have been into Guatemala, El Salvador, and some of the men flew into Tegucigalpa.

PC: Did you ever fly into South America?
WE:Not with the Patrol. When I went to South America, I was in the Air Force.

TC: You didn’t fly to the Orient with the Patrol?
WE:No, some of the other fellows did. Some of the landings on our over—seas flights included Iceland and Shannon, Ireland; London, England; Frankfurt, Germany; Paris, France. Some of the flights even went up into the Iron Curtain countries, but that was a special flight and I don’t recall who took that but I am sure Paul was on it — at least one or more of those flights. Athens was usually a turn—around — that would be the end of the line. Craig Moltzen and I took one flight down into Mexico and to Central America. Bob Walker and I flew an iron lung, I think that’s in the history. We flew an iron lung to Compeche one time to try to save the life of a Mexican boy who was partially paralyzed, but I don’t think the iron lung helped him.

TC: Did he have polio?
WE:They thought he did, but I think later on they decided it was some other type of paralysis.

TC: Did that fill the whole plane?
WE:No, we were in a C—46 and we carried other people down with us, so we had lots of room. It was quite large, but a C—46 is designed to carry jeeps and jeep trailers and barrels of gasoline. It was a real good cargo plane during World War II. The other interesting airlift flights would be a combination of immigration and deportation flights and VIP flights. They would carry aliens in one direction and VIP’s the other. During the integration conflict in the southern states, and also the Jimmy Hoffa trial, occasionally we would carry along reserve newspaper people or U.S. Marshals. On one occasion Bob Walker and I flew a wounded U.S. Marshal to a hospital during the integration conflict.

TC: Can you go into the Old Miss incident in more detail?
WE:Well, the Border Patrol agents flew in the U.S. Marshals who were downtown probably know more details than I do.

TC: Where did you come from, Brownsville?
WE:Yes. We flew out of Brownsville. We were shuttled out pretty fast. I think I had one extra set of clothing with me. But some of the men were rousted out so fast they had no razor blades or anything else, so they got in on that detail needing clothing, shaving cream, and everything else. Most of the people sent on that detail had some notice so they could pack a bag. Quite a few of the people on the ground had to drive none—stop.

We flew from Brownsville to a little airport just north of Oxford. I don’t remember the name of the airport but it was a gravel strip, quite short, and I remember the runway was not lighted. It had a control tower of sorts, but it was pretty primitive for a little airport and not a whole lot of parking room. We would land and then park off to one side as far off the runway as we could and try to scrounge some C rations or K rations or something — they didn’t bring any.

TC: What plane did you fly?
WE:I believe I was in the C-46 going in there and then I flew up to the hospital in a C-47 with Walker. But we had some C—46’s and C—47’s at the same airport.

TC: And it was only the Border Patrol pilots who dared to land there, is that correct?
WE:I am not real sure about that. It seems to me some of the Air Force planes, some of the smaller planes, were landing there later on. If I remember right, I think they had some twin-engine Cessna’s.

TC: Did you take a load of men from Brownsville?
WE:We had men on board, yes. In the C—47’s we landed the first one I was on——one landing——I recall when I opened the door, there were some local rabble—rousers waiting for me and I was in civilian clothes and one of them asked me what I was there for. I didn’t say anything to him. I just walked on out of the plane and put the control locks on the airplane, and he turned to his buddy and said, “You know that he knows he’s here illegally or wrongly because he won’t talk to us.’ That’s all they said to me. They were out there to cause trouble, if they could.

PC: And when were you deputized as a Marshal?
WE:Before we left Brownsville. They had a program to deputize everybody before they got into the conflict.

PC: Was that a long procedure, or just a swearing in, or what?
WE:Swearing in.

TC: They issued you the arm bands there in Brownsville?
WE:I’m not sure where the arm bands were issued. I believe they were issued later on. During some of the riot training, some of the men were issued arm bands.

TC: But you were deputized you said to guard the planes?
WE:Well, we were left at the airport mainly to be ready to fly the planes out and to guard the planes also. My idea of the main reason for deputizing everyone was so there wouldn’t be any conflict as to who was a Marshal and who was not.

TC: And you did fly one of the wounded out?
WE:Yes. He was either a Prison Bureau officer or a U.S. Marshal, and was wounded in the neck. We took him to the hospital to be taken care of. He was in pretty bad shape.

TC: Shot in the neck?
WE:Shot in the neck, but I think he survived. We were in Birmingham, we were in Oxford and on various details during that whole set up. Some of the men stayed longer than others. I would have to check my log to recall exactly which flights I was on. some of the pilots stayed there. When they had the Freedom Riders, they had Border Patrol planes above each bus with radios to keep in touch with people on the ground. Some of the Sector pilots could tell you about that. If you have a chance to talk with Ed Woods, or Tex Ewing, or maybe McCumber. I’m not sure whether he was on that detail or not.

TC: What was the other thing you mentioned? Oh, Jimmy Hoff a.
WE:Oh, yes, during the Jimmy Hoffa trial – He was tried in the South. It seems to me it was in Atlanta, but I’m not positive. But anyway, when the trial was over, we flew some of the reporters and some of the lawyers back to Washington, and on one flight, we flew Bobby Kennedy a short distance. I came through Washington

PC: By ‘we’ do you mean I — you
WE:I was on one of the flights. I was on one flight that flew the reporters.

TC: Were you the pilot?
WE:I was one of the pilots, and then I was co-pilot on a DC—4 when Bobby Kennedy was on board, and he personally came up and thanked us for the flight. He was very cordial and later wrote a letter thanking us for our services.

PC: He was traveling in connection with the Hoffa trial?
WE:Yes, he was the Attorney General at that time. They worked
real hard putting Jimmy Hoffa behind bars and finally succeeded. After that — that was in the early 60’s – then I requested to go to El Paso in ‘65 as Sector Pilot.

TC: Why did you request that?
WE:I was getting a little tired of the transport planes and at the time our maintenance was, I thought, going down hill. So I requested to go to El Paso and give them a chance to revise their maintenance program, try to improve it. I was hoping that maybe they would get later model airplanes, pressurized airplanes, something that was safer to fly and also a little better equipped. The radios were deteriorating and I just felt like the airlift needed to be upgraded, so I requested to go to El Paso and took a demotion from GS-l2 back to GS—ll in order to go back to Sector flying. Then after I got to El Paso, I flew as Sector pilot until the airlift was moved to El Paso. At that time, they were improving their maintenance and upgrading the airplanes to such an extent that I went back to the airlift then, and flew on the airlift until it was closed down.

PC: You mentioned Bill Turner.
WE:Yes, Bill Turner trained me in El Paso when I came back to Sector flying. He gave me the benefit of his experience and it helped me considerably in trying to learn to cut sign from the air and how to fly the Border Patrol Super—Cub to my best ability.

PC: You had never really cut sign from the air before?
WE:A little bit in Laredo, but not to the extent necessary for daily flying. Bill and the other pilots here in El Paso helped me in that regard. I flew with Lee Peters, Clarence Townsend, Bill Turner, Dale Burt, Noel Williams, and Sector pilots who came through on detail.

TC: How long were you a Sector pilot before you went back to the airlift?
WE:Approximately two or three years. A couple of years, and then I went back to Air Operations. Then I was on Operation Intercept at Tucson, Arizona. I was on detail to Tucson in 1968.

TC: Tell us more about that.
WE:operation Intercept was put into operation to try to curtail some of the smuggling, alien smuggling as well as drug smuggling across the border. We used twin—engine Beech Barons and Border Patrol single—engine planes, anything we could get into operation to try to curtail the smuggling. The Air Force and the Army set up some of their radar systems to try to help us intercept the airplanes. We were on duty twelve hours and off duty twelve hours.

That was the usual procedure, but we were not flying all that time. In fact, most of the time we only flew three to six hours during any one shift. But they would try to notify us at the airport that something was crossing the border without a flight plan. Then we would try to either intercept it or ascertain where it was to land and keep in touch with units on the ground and notify them where we thought the plane might land. Sometimes we would fly in the area where the plane was spotted at night and most of the smuggling planes would be without lights, so we would fly without lights and try to pinpoint the plane with our observers on the information coming from the radar stations. I found that the radar stations weren’t too accurate in their spotting of these planes and quite often we would just be following ghost signals. Radar in those mountainous areas around there would evidentially have false signals, so quite often we would be circling around looking for an airplane and we would be the only ones in the neighborhood.

TC: You didn’t have radar on your own planes?
WE:Not on our planes, no.

PC: That was dangerous!
WE:Oh, it was a little touchy at times, but usually we had at least one or sometimes two, sometimes three observers on the airplane as well as the pilot and they were watching for the other airplanes.

TC: How long were you detailed over there?
WE:Just two months, and then I went back to El Paso.

PC: Did you catch a lot of drug smugglers?
WE:Very few. I don’t know the exact statistics. There were some caught. Some were with aliens and some with drugs.

TC: Do you think the technology just wasn’t up to the point where you could effectively do it?
WE:I think so. I think it was lacking in coordination between the Army and the Air Force and the Border Patrol. Sometimes there were breakdowns in communications. They were on different radio frequencies, so that the message had to be relayed and it was, at times, a trial and error situation. Everybody tried, tried real hard, but it just didn’t work out very well. They’re doing much better these days. And after operation Intercept, after they closed the airlift completely down, I went to Del Rio as Sector pilot and flew there until I retired in 1974. I have been enjoying retirement ever since.

TC: Were there any remarkable incidents in Del Rio after you went there?
WE:Just run of the mill Sector flying.


USBP Memorial Library/Research Center

Complementing the museum’s rich Border Patrol collection, the Memorial Library offers a range of materials on Border Patrol history from its inception in 1924 to the present. The library/archives provides support to researchers at all levels interested in furthering their understanding of the nation’s first line of defense: the Border Patrol. 


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