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!
7979 Mary Hall Rd.
Arroyo Grande, CA