Patrol Inspector Doyne C. Melton was shot and killed in a battle with Mexican smugglers at El Paso, on December 7, 1933. Six Patrol Inspectors were moving up in the darkness on seventeen Mexican smugglers who were wading across the river with packs of liquor. One of three smugglers acting as spotters who had preceded the main body of the smugglers over the river, concealed beneath a platform on the American side, opened hostilities by shooting Inspector Melton.
The opening shot was fired without warning and before any challenge had been given. Inspector Melton was shot through the heart, dying instantly. The bitterness of the fight was evidenced by the fact that in addition to the slaying of Inspector Melton, four smugglers were killed and another was wounded.
On the evening of December 27, 1933, Patrol Inspectors Bert G. Walthall, Louis A. Smith, and Curtis D. Mosely were patrolling the international boundary near Cordova Island at El Paso, Texas. Cordova Island is not in fact an island, but Mexican territory left on the north side of the Rio Grande River when the river changed its course. The boundary here was an imaginary line and a person could step across from one country to another. At about 8:45 p.m., the officers noticed two men cross the line with sacks on their backs and depart in a waiting automobile. The officers attempted to stop the car by blowing their horn but the smugglers only increased their speed. After a chase of a couple of blocks, the patrol car overtook the smugglers and the smugglers pulled over to the side of the road. Before the patrol car could be stopped, it had arrived along side the smugglers’ car, about 10 feet to the left of it. Inspector Mosely was driving, Inspector Walthall was sitting beside him, and Inspector Smith was in the back seat. When the patrol car stopped, Officers Walthall and Smith alighted from the right side. They were met by a blast of rifle fire from the smugglers which instantly killed Inspector Walthall and wounded Inspector Smith. Inspector Mosely had gotten out of the car on the left side and opened fire on the smugglers whose car was then in motion. Inspector Mosely continued shooting with his rifle and pistol until his weapons were empty and then turned his attention to his fellow officers.
Patrol Inspector William L. Sills was killed on January 17, 1940, while on night patrol duty at a crossing on the Rio Grande River in the vicinity of La Grulla, Texas. On the date mentioned, three Patrol Inspectors, William L. Sills, Albin Ulrickson, and Leslie H. Buchanan, encountered three smugglers in the act of smuggling contraband.
Two of the smugglers were taken into custody, and Patrol Inspector Sills, in attempting to cut off the escape of the third smuggler, was shot at close range and fatally wounded. Before falling, Inspector Sills returned the smuggler’s fire and killed him.
The smuggler, a Mexican alien, had previously been deported from the United States. Patrol Inspector Sills died in an ambulance enroute to the hospital at McAllen, Texas, where he was stationed. The two smugglers who were apprehended were arraigned on smuggling charges and for complicity in the killing.
During the evening of December 25, 1940, Patrol Inspector George E. Pringle was working alone in the vicinity of Parker, Arizona, his official duty station. He was engaged in conversation with a Special Agent for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Ralph F. Stringfellow, whom he knew both officially and personally, when he indicated he was going to follow a car that had just passed.
The vehicle was known to both men as belonging to a group of aliens suspected of illegal activities in connection with the Parker Dam. Inspector Pringle was next observed driving south on Parker Road about two miles south of the Parker Dam Checking Station.
Two witnesses indicated the government vehicle being driven by Inspector Pringle veered toward the center of the road about the time the vehicle in which they were riding passed going in the opposite direction. The government vehicle then swerved to the right off the roadway and overturned two or three times beforecoming to rest about 200 yards from where the vehicle had left the roadway.
Subsequent investigation revealed that the accident occurred as a result of a blow out of the right front tire which was caused by the tire passing over a broken bottle in the roadway. Inspector Pringle sustained multiple injuries including contusions of the upper frontal region of the skull, and a fracture at the base of the skull. He died of injuries received in the accident on December 28, 1940.
DOB:January 28, 1916 Entered: April 30, 1941 Departed: September 7, 1941 Position: Patrol Inspector
During the evening of September 7, 1941, Patrol Inspectors Robert J. Heibler and Eldon C. Wade were on duty inspecting traffic on U.S. Highway #90 about three miles west of Uvalde, Texas. At approximately 9:00 p.m., one of the road flares used to warn approaching traffic was blown out by the wind, and Patrol Inspector Heibler while relighting it, was struck by a passing automobile and dragged about 20 feet.
The automobile did not stop and Inspector Wade did not pursue it at the time feeling that it was more important that he render first aid to Inspector Heibler. A physician reached the scene of the accident in about 15 minutes, gave Inspector Heibler an injection of adrenalin, and continued artificial respiration which Inspector Wade had started; however, the officer died within a few minutes.
DOB:February 22, 1915 Entered:May 29, 1941 Departed:February 26, 1942 Position:Patrol Inspector Patrol Inspector Ralph W. Ramsey was killed on February 26, 1942, in Columbus, New Mexico, while attempting to board a freight train in search of aliens illegally in the United States. Patrol Inspector Harry E. Lennon, in charge of the two-man unit stationed in Columbus, was working with Inspector Ramsey at the time of the accident and related the following concerning the events at the time of the accident. The officers, while patrolling to the east of Columbus, observed an open boxcar on a regular west bound freight heading towards Columbus. The officers returned to Columbus, checked an east bound freight train at a siding, and awaited the incoming west bound train.
Inspector Ramsey took up a position between the siding and the main line while Inspector Lennon stood opposite him across the main line tracks. It was customary that the train crew halt the west bound freight at a water tower. The officers had stationed themselves in the vicinity of the open box car they had observed. On this occasion, however, the train did not stop but proceeded on in order to clear the main track for the train on the siding.
Apparently, Inspector Ramseyattempted to board the train when the open boxcar passed him. The first indication Inspector Lennon had that an accident had occurred was when he noticed an object beneath the moving train and realized it was his partner’s body. As soon as the train passed, Inspector Lennon rushed to Inspector Ramsey. Death occurred within seconds after he reached his side.
DOB:July 25, 1917 Entered:September 8, 1941 Departed:June 23, 1945 Position:Patrol Inspector At about 3:00 p.m. on the afternoon of June 23, 1945, Patrol Inspectors Earl F. Fleckinger and Wilbur E. Kinney were patrolling on U.S. Highway No. 98 about 1 1/2 miles east of Calexico, California, when they stopped and searched an automobile driven by a Mexican alien. Search of the automobile disclosed a quantity of liquor in the rear compartment, whereupon the alien was placed under arrest.
The officers then started west toward Calexico with the alien. Inspector Fleckinger was driving the government automobile with the alien seated beside him and Inspector Kinney was following immediately behind in the alien’s automobile. They had proceeded about one mile when Mr. Kinney heard two shots and observed the government automobile swerve off the road and into an adjacent canal bank.
Mr. Kinney stopped the alien’s car about 10 or 15 yards ahead of the government car and while he was attempting to get out of the automobile, the alien fired four shots which failed to hit him. Inspector Kinney pursued, caught and subdued the alien, and left him in an apparently unconscious condition lying prone in the center of the highway.
Mr. Kinney then went to the aid of Inspector Fleckinger, at which time his attention was drawn back to the alien who was observed to be staggering across the international boundary into Mexico. Inspector Fleckinger was taken to a hospital in Calexico by a passer-by. He had been shot in the head which resulted in his death about 6:15 p.m. on the same day.
Entered: February 16, 2009 Departed: May 1, 2009 Position: Border Patrol Agent Intern
Border Patrol Agent Nathaniel Afolayan passed away the day after collapsing at the Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico. He had just completed the 1-½-mile run portion of the physical techniques final exam when he collapsed.
He was flown to the Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas, where he passed away the following day. Agent Afolayan had been sworn in as an agent at the beginning of the academy session in February and had served with the Border Patrol for 10 weeks. He is survived by his wife, two daughters, parents, and three siblings.
On March 11, 1947, while conducting routine traffic checks near Indio, California, Patrol Inspectors Anthony L. Oneto and John L. Fouquette arrested Carlos Ochoa Romero in the act of hauling four smuggled aliens. The aliens were placed in the back seat of the government car and Ochoa was instructed to drive his car to the Border Patrol Office.
After a short time, Ochoa stopped his car which was being followed by the government car, walked back, said something about his car stalling, pulled a .32 calibre pistol from his pocket, and began firing at the officers.
Inspector Oneto was struck four times in the head and died instantly. Patrol Inspector Fouquette was wounded but returned the fire, wounding Ochoa who escaped in the darkness. In spite of this activity, Inspector Fouquette was able to retain custody of the smuggled aliens until help arrived.
DOB:August 4, 1901
Entered on Duty: November 25, 1926
Title: Airplane Pilot
End of Watch: August 29, 1950
Just after dawn on August 29, 1950, Airplane Pilot Michael T. Box was patrolling by plane in the irrigated farm area about 20 miles north of El Paso, Texas, searching for aliens who had walked through the desert at night and were attempting to get away to the north through the upper Rio Grande Valley. Pilot Box was working with two ground crews who were in radio-equipped jeeps. The operation had netted several aliens and others were being sought when the engine of the aircraft stopped and the plane crashed. It burst into flames; however, fellow officers were able to remove Pilot Box from the aircraft within minutes after the crash occurred. Artificial respiration was commenced immediately and was continued until Pilot Box was pronounced dead by a doctor who lived nearby.
Investigation into the accident revealed that the motor of the aircraft ceased apparently due to difficulty in the fuel system. Pilot Box maintained control of the plane as it lost altitude and maneuvered the aircraft into position to make an emergency landing in an irrigation ditch. The aircraft struck a submerged object on the canal bottom upon impact. Pilot Box's seat strap was broken and he was thrown with terrific force into the wheel and instrument panel. He died instantly as his chest and skull were crushed, his jawbone was broken in two places, and both shoulders were broken.
The incident began as a routine immigration procedure on December 18, 1950. Patrol Inspector Richard D. Clarke and his partner, Patrol Inspector Ralph L. Trantor, questioned Eulalio Cordero on a street in south El Paso, Texas. Cordero first claimed to be a citizen of the United States, later admitting he was an alien illegally in the United States and was subsequently taken into custody.
They were bringing him to headquarters by automobile for further questioning when the alien suddenly stabbed Inspector Clarke in the heart. His death was instantaneous. The alien then seized Inspector Trantor's gun. Patrol Inspector Trantor slammed on the car brakes held on to the gun and threw himself into the back seat where he grappled with the alien and succeeded in holding him until police officers arrived. During the struggle, Trantor's gun was discharged once, the bullet passing through a car seat. Inspector Trantor was badly bitten on the face and arms. Cordero was charged with murder.
At about 9:45 p.m. on July 6, 1952, Patrol Inspector In Charge Edwin H. Wheeler was involved in a head-on auto collision on Highway 59 near a bridge spanning the Nueces River approximately four miles south of Mathis, Texas, in San Patricio County. Inspector Wheeler was in a government automobile traveling in a southerly direction after having been in Mathis on official business.
The government automobile collided with an automobile driven by Milton Mareth who was hospitalized with a fractured left arm. Three other passengers with Mareth received superficial cuts and bruises. Shortly after the accident, Inspector Wheeler’s body was discovered lying on the front seat of the automobile which had traveled over 400 feet beyond the point of original impact.
His body was positioned as though it had fallen from behind the steering wheel, giving the appearance that he had been driving the automobile. Inspector Wheeler was pronounced dead by a nurse who stopped at the scene of the accident. The body was removed to a mortuary in Alice, Texas, where, at 1:30 p.m. the following day, a bullet hole was discovered in Inspector Wheeler’s head. An autopsy performed on July 7, 1952, revealed death was instantaneous from a bullet wound in the head above the right ear. Investigation into various aspects of the case led to the conclusion that Inspector Wheeler was shot to death by an unknown person or persons.
Patrol Inspector Donald Kee’s official station was Mission, Texas; however, at the time of his death, he was on official detail, assigned to the Special Mobile Task Force with headquarters at McAllen, Texas. This task force was engaged in a special program conducted by the Service to bring the “wetback” situation under control.
On July 23, 1954, Patrol Inspector Kee was assigned to serve as observer during a flight wherein the aircraft worked in conjunction with ground units checking laborers on farms in the vicinity of Rio Grande City, Texas. The aircraft was piloted by William F. Buckelew.
The joint operation had resulted in ten aliens being taken into custody by the ground teams. The patrol aircraft had just made a low pass over a cotton field near the Rio Grande River and was banking to return to the field when it was seen to spin and plunge into the river. The plane burst into flames which hampered rescue operations by officers and bystanders in the area.
Several persons were hospitalized suffering from burns sustained in the rescue efforts. Patrol Inspector Kee was killed instantly. A Justice of the Peace held an inquest upon arrival at the scene of the accident and pronounced Inspector Kee dead. The crash occurred about 4:00 p.m., approximately two miles downstream from the Rio Grande City Bridge. Pilot Buckelew was still alive when removed from the plane but was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.
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