He does exactly that, bringing a determined humanity to a brutal system. Migrants being pursued by Border Patrol often stash their heavy provisions, intending to come back for them, so that they can more easily evade the agents. Jose, in the U. Despite their efforts, Jose is deported to Mexico. How can we sanction a system in which the decision to see a dying mother one last time is the wrong choice, one that can cost a man his family? Is there any enhanced border enforcement that will stop the irrepressible human drive for a better life?
Anyway we had had some training in karate. We had self-defense not a lot but enough to take care of ourselves. The fact is I never saw anything else did you? Do you remember Harry Brackeen? Not Harry that was his cousin the pitcher for St. 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. 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. Not any of them hurt real bad. There was J. Anyway they were in barracks and I think there were about six barracks buildings. We went in the side gate and we were all carrying machine guns. Well we had to because we were in the back end of the camp. 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. 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. There were not too many old ones. Not old or not really young either. That hurt more than going in after that guy. The laundry equipment was old and I had to rebuild it first. JH — You went to several different ones. Did you wire Fort Stanton or the garden camp?
It was originally full of Japanese and Italians. I think they took them to Lordsburg. 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. I also got assigned to load ammunition. Tommy Box and Bob Sparks found out that I had shot a lot and had loaded ammunition.
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. 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. When we got to the top he was handcuffed to me and someone else.
Coming to America
It was Pat Callahan who came over and handcuffed him to us. The Bund was considered subversive during the war. 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. Eldon grabbed the gun and pulled it up.
Finally they kicked the door down to get him out. We had several prisoners who were wanted there for murder kidnapping and everything else. We had one guy on the train who acted more or less insane. 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. I said sure and kept his watch. 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? The order was to get them to New York dead or alive. 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. Frakes entered the Border Patrol on October 18 as a member of the 56th session.
He was interviewed on October 11 by Mr. Oscar J.
About - Border Patrol Museum
Interview includes incidents involved with apprehensions work with Hungarian Refugees in and as a U. Marshall in during the James Meredith era and the University of Mississippi. When and where were you born? I Went to college at Oklahoma State University. How did you happen to join the Border Patrol?
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. 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.
And then from there I was assigned to Mercedes Texas. 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. Even today. I just got back from Guadalajara and Michoacan. I have an airplane and I fly down there all the time. And then it was a lot colder at times. But I enjoyed that because it was refreshing as far as the climate was concerned. I got to go down to the Border Patrol office one time. Juarez was quite wide open at that time. 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. 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.
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. That was the impression. How was your training there at Fort Bliss? 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. Did you have a lot of help? 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 I still feel that way I still feel that we were doing them a service. I remember that they were along the edge of the river and they were around just every where. And I says. You leave him alone. I have no personal experience on that. I mean there were very few aliens that ever had an attorney or anything like that.
It seems like most everybody I remember is from Guanajuato or someplace like that. Very much. 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. You know you could hear the breath kind of uh like that you know He said. And these girls had started running to get away these prostitutes that were over here from Mexico.
But the same thing. And so they still come in with the local cards. And some of 'em still come across in boats. 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 the fact that these people got seasick caused them to stay home. But they did away with that. 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. But after about two times like that it gets kind of frustrating and they stay home.
But then they get I think a Mexican bus and this bus takes them to the interior. But then…. And things are getting better in Mexico. 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. I never have any trouble with the people down there. I never have. With anybody. Her maiden name was Sanchez. And we just got married. I mean sometimes. 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. And I had my cameras with me as I always do and this woman had a purse that she had woven on the loom. And the Indians are that way. They do not want their picture made. I bought a blanket and a sweater from an Indian family in Chapala Jalisco.
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. Well you still have the Mexicans up there and a lot of illegals. 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. 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. 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 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. 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. That was quite a thing. I learned a little Hungarian. 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. Cause they need treatment. He spoke Hungarian. And I said. 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. And things get twisted around. That was when I was still at Detroit. They flew us in a C I think it was. The Border Patrol flew us up there to Maguire. Then Sault Ste. Marie is. Miller entered the U. Interview was conducted by Ms. I was born in Windfall outside of Tipton about 50 miles north of Indianapolis.
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.
But I went in anyway. TC — Did you finish college first?
Danger at the Border
I still lack some time. I was in the 50th session.
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We had a six week school at that time. 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. I could drive a semi anyway so I was driving them. That was in and when this Operation Wetback started there were four trucks.
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. 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.
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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. 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 s 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. Just take your time going back.
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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. 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 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. You were what the called a stewardess? So we had these Cs 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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 batteries were down in the bottom of the airplane and they were shorting out the battery cables.
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.
Writing About Writing About the Border Crisis
I have some pictures of the airplane. That was May Then I took the seniors exam at the time made that and got transferred to Calexico in I was there for about a year and I transferred up to Indio in I was in Indio until 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 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. But we had Chavez up there he was in Delano. 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. They were a lot a Filipinos a lot of immigrant aliens. Ramsey Clark was the Attorney General.
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 would go out in every one of these fields where there were pickers. 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. Threaten them with bodily harm and all that. 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. 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.
The growers kinda got together and we had a Mr. We talked to them. 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. It was from until about the first part of And they had these records files on all these people by the tens of thousands. So a lot of them we sent home.
We just turned around and sent them home. But we had enough problems without having problems with them doing it or not doing it. They were sent out there to do something and I got a little hostile. We had all this information left over which was just sitting there. About that time I kinda got turned off on lot things after that. It had been here I think M. The Immigration people were Brandemuehl me and John Sorg. I think John was there a week before Buck and I got there. He and a man from the DEA.
They had a little hole in the wall some cars and a desk. Our oldest son is there. 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. 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. I met a lot of nice people. Then some not so nice. All these others were detailed in there for day details from all over the United States. During the operation on the grape strike we tried checking traffic on the highways. 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. 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 hour Mexican radio station in Bakersfield. The union got to put ads on the radio station. So then they sued the radio station. They went to the FCC and tried to get their license revoked. 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. It was a bad time it really was. Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Show More. Reading Group Guide 1. Average Review. Write a Review. Related Searches. From the New York Times bestselling author?
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