Thursday, August 05, 2010

Mexican bandits hold ‘river pilots’ for ransom

Two “river pilots” on patrol over the international border on Aug. 10, 1919 mistook the Rio Conchos River for the Rio Grande and took a wrong turn deep into the Mexican interior. A chronic burr under the Lone Star saddle since San Jacinto, Mexican bandits once again were making life miserable on the border, especially in the Big Bend. Utilizing the latest technology in the war against this old menace, the Border Patrol took to the skies in June 1919. From an airfield at Marfa, four biplanes flew daily surveillance over the shallow waterway separating Texas and Mexico. Eagle-eyed “river pilots” scanned the barren landscape for any sign of the elusive outlaws. While on routine patrol on Aug. 10, Lt. H.G. Peterson and Lt. Paul Davis became so confused they followed the Rio Conchos west into Mexico instead of setting a northerly course by the Rio Grande. When the engine of their two-seater suddenly sputtered, the two were forced to make an emergency landing 80 miles inside Mexican territory...more

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