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 DC4 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 DC4 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: Were 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 didnt 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. Transfered 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 offcrew could sleep while the other crew was flying. Because this was not a situation where you go you stop. You dont 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 wed 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. Ill 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 touchandgo 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 didnt have any passengers going to Italy or Greece. So Id 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 seamans 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 Kings 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 cant 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 cant give him another shot or itll kill him but hell 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 dont 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 accomodate other government agencies as to what they wanted. So as I was gassing up lets 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 desparate 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 67foot 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 didnt have. So anyhow he didnt 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 wouldnt give him to us. So here we are with the guys wife and she immediately becomes absolutely hysterical. I just cant describe how hysterical she got. Because she knew that we were taking her to Yugoslavia but her husband wasnt 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 shed 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 wed 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 didnt care. theyre very sympathetic. Anybody that comes into Austria and wants asylum theyre 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 couldnt go into Hungary.
C: Why did they want to go back?
G: They just didnt 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 dont 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. Wed 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 dont 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 driftdown due to the weight which we couldnt 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 cant 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 70knot 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 dont 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 didnt 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 downdraft 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 Im 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 didnt 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 Im due to go back I need to go back but the navigator Im gonna leave you with cant get you back to New York. So needless to say that really shook us. But we figured well 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 lets 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 midAtlantic. 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 its quite a long leg. So about oh I think about 4 hours we were beginning to get a little concerned because we couldnt pick up nothing on the radar as far as a landfall. So the pilot started tuning in whats known as an ADF its 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 didnt 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 00. Which meant that you couldnt see anything up or down or forward or anything else. But they did have whats known as a GCA which is a Ground Control Approach system and the guy sitting in a radarcontrolled 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 00. 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 couldnt see two lights. Because one light wouldnt…you couldnt… John couldnt set up directional control to go to the next light. All we could see was one so we didnt 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 didnt 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 Im gonna get that airplane in. And John Wright had made up his mind Im gonna land this airplane. So we went for the second approach. And we left the landing lights off the second time so we wouldnt get the reflection off the ice flakes. Well again all we could get was one runway light at a time and so we didnt 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 couldnt 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 thats 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 were talking about young people here in the United States who had brought their mothers over theyve 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 dont 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 didnt care I dont know.
In addition to our European trips once a year wed usually fly to the Orient. This really taxed the capabilities of the DC4 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 DC4 as far as fuel quantity. We always insisted that we have nothing but the best navigators and we didnt 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 cant 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. Wed 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 wed 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 weve 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 DC4 . 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 cant remember. A fourengine massive airplane. At that time it was a transport plane. But anyhow its 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 DC4 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 werent 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 funloving woman just had a good time anything she went at. In one particular instance it was quite hurryup trip evidently Congressman John wanted to go somewhere and he didnt tell Katie in time. So I get on board the