Mr. Gwaltney entered the United States Border Patrol in September 1952 and was a member of the 47th Academy class at McAllen Texas. The following oral history of his Border Patrol career was given on April 8 1988 in response to a list of questions which had been furnished to him in advance by the National Border Patrol Museum.
I was born on 3/3/23 at Poseyville Indiana. Father was farmer and County Agriculture Agent. Mother was a housewife with 9 children.
I grew up at various locations in Indiana.
I did not attend college.
I became a Border Patrolman in furtherance of my desire for a career with the government and outdoor employment.
When I entered the Border Patrol my salary was $3795 per annum.
I am unable to determine the exact number of my Trainee Class from personal records now available. Officers who EOD on or about 6/23/52 were divided into two classes. One started training at Las Cruces N.M. shortly after entering on duty. The other of which I was a member worked in the field until about 10/01/52 at which time we attended the first training session held at McAllen TX graduating on 11/15/52.
I also attended the following training courses: Officers Training School (CO) 1956 Senior Patrol Inspector Refresher Course (El Paso) 1958 Senior Patrol Inspector (Special Detail) Course (El Paso) 1959 Negotiating & Implementing Agreements (Civil Service Comm. Chicago) 1968 Supervisory Development Conference Series (Port Isabel) 1969 Appeals and Grievance Examiner Training Course (Civil Service Commission Los Angeles) 1971 and Executive Development Seminar (University of Texas Port Isabel) 1972.
I entered the U.S. Navy 01/06/42 and was discharged on ll/12/45. I was living at Alhambra CA on 12/7/41.
I was stationed at El Centro CA (P1 GS6&7) Laredo TX (SPI GS 8&9); Detroit MI (SPI GS9) (Special Detail) and General Investigator (GS11); Grand Forks N.D. (ACPI GS11); Yuma AZ (ACPI GS 11); Chula Vista CA (ACPI GS11); Detroit MI (CPI GS12) San Pedro CA (GS13) and SWRO Deputy Regional Chief B/P.
I was detailed to the Hungarian Refugee Program Camp Kilmer N.J. 1957 and Operation Intercept (Coordinating Office) Houston TX
No details relating to Civil Rights marches
I was not involved in El Paso hijacking.
I was not a Sky Marshal
I was not involved in Operation Skyward.
I really dont know that I had an area of expertise. However I participated in all phases of B/P operations except those involving horses.
This would require a book in itself.
I worked under 11 Chiefs Edward Parker Donald Coppock .J. Eldon Taylor Jefferson Fell Henry Stallings Bruce Long Dale Norris Edwin Dorn Elmo Rainbolt Allen Gerhart and Gordon Pettingill.
Supervisory positions occupied – Senior Patrol Inspector Assistant Chief Patrol Inspector and Chief Patrol Inspector.
I considered any night operation to be one that required officers to be extremely alert. This was particularly true in traffic checks and stops conducted on roads without the benefits now found in permanent check stations i.e. flood lighting usually two or more officers on duty good radio communications etc. Officers conducting traffic check operations encountered just about every type of law violator.
I consider the following as a comedy of errors. Several snowballs were lobbed over a car on which I was changing a tire in the parking lot at the Detroit Headquarters and station building in 1959. Peering over the top I saw the Station Senior standing on the rear porch with a big grin on his face. I crouched behind the car again made a good hard snowball stepped out and let loose. My target moved aside and my missile went though one of the panes of glass in the door. The Chief appeared in the door within seconds but before he could say anything I said Chief Ill have a new glass in that door within 30 minutes. I obtained a replacement at a nearby hardware store and had it installed with a few minutes to spare. Needless to say I never asked the Chief where he was when that pane of glass exploded.
I spent my career in the Border Patrol. The SPI (special Detail) position I occupied at Detroit was reclassified and upgraded to General Investigator
(GS-11). Although the position was carried on the Detroit District Office roster I was detailed to the Sector.
I enjoyed every day of my Border Patrol career even though there Were times when I thought our enforcement efforts were? hampered and/or misdirected for political reasons a condition probably experienced in any government agency.
A high level of camaraderie existed among Border Patrol officers even though Service policies for years appeared to reflect that pay grade levels equipment needs operating funds and position sensitivity etc. in the other branches of the Service were more significant than those of the Border Patrol. Such policies ignored that B/P officers were required to work under more hazardous conditions enforce the same laws and regulations render comparable decisions and conduct operations in accordance with the same Operating Instructions.
It took a special type of a woman to be the wife of a dedicated Border Patrol officer especially during the early years of a career. Due to the long and varied hours of duty isolated locations of many duty stations and transfers the major portion of responsibility for the rearing children management of family income and needs plus maintaining a cohesive family unit usually fell on her shoulders.
I retired on 6/29/73 to my 1/3 acre UCR Ranch at Yuma AZ. Hobbies such as silver smithing plaque making fishing helping neighbors and friends have occupied my time.