From the Soldier side: OK, back to my border mission story. Our first day on the boarder was getting equipment, vehicles and our selves organized. That took most of the day, then we spent a few hours actually checking out our “AO” (Area of Operation). It smelled. We were warned to not step, fall, or try to swim in the canal running through the area…they told us it would cause our boots to fall apart, not to mention what it would do to our flesh. It seemed that our neighbors across the border dumped so much toxic crap into the water, that it was a Haz Mat.
I saw that it was going to be a fairly easy job. A job that didn’t require too much brain work, and mostly just moving our vehicles and equipment around. Our first mission was to clear out a place called “Smuggler’s Gulch.”
Smuggler’s Gulch looked just like you could imagine it looked like. It was a low spot in the terrain that was over grown with bramble, tumble weeds, rocks, dead automobiles and crap. If you just took a look at it from the road, it looked impassible, but when you got out of the truck and started walking, you could see where the smugglers had cut little trails through the brush--- like wild animals in the woods. Only in this case, instead of leading to water, the trails led to the USA. A route to move drugs and stuff into our land of freedom. This was going to be fun. Wild, but fun.
The first day, 1700 hours. Shift change for the US Border Patrol (USBP). By 1630 hours, we’d pulled our trucks and equipment back into the little motor pool we’d built that day. I didn’t know why the USBP made it sound so urgent that we were not driving around the border in the next half hour, but we were going to see why.
As the USBP started their shift change, we suddenly saw what could have looked like mice looking down from the sky. But what started running from the south to north, were humans. They were running down the road, through the brush, climbing over everything in their way…fences, parked cars, rocks, people slower than them….in mass. We started to count. After 15 minutes, we counted 150 people running by just where we were parked. I could see that if we’d been driving on the roads, we might have hit half a dozen border crossers without even seeing them. They were so desperate.
The next day, we got to our base camp early---the morning USPB shift change…and the same thing happened. I was in shock until about the third day, then I got used to it. I figured if Mexico looked as bad as I could see from our side of the border, I’d run away to. If it smelled like it smelled where we were at, I’d run away to. I couldn’t blame them.for coming to the US. Wouldn’t you?
The third day, we had a bulldozer operator stopped for a break. He was sitting on his dozer eating his lunch, when some drunken’ dude from across the border run up to the dozer. The drunk climbed up the track and pulled a knife on the operator. We were all un armed. The dozer operator was able to convince the asshole to not stab him, and the drunk got off and ran away.
Each day, we’d drive by and see the same guys sitting on the edge of the border drinking beer and waving at us. We were entertainment in a world that had none. My main duty was to train the truck operators. That was easy…I only fired one who was too stupid to even figure out how to spit.
We got one day a week off to start out…then as we got settled in, 2 days a week of. It wasn’t’ a war, but it was weird.
Now I know some of you are going to comment about why we were not armed…but I guess that has something to do when General Pershing went into Mexico about 100 years ago trying to catch that terrorist Pancho Villa. Never caught him, but sure did piss off the Mexicans….so to this day, they are worried about the US invading Mexico. In my opinion, they can have that place…not much better than Iraq, and not as nice as Bosnia was.