Seal of the U.S. Border Patrol

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Your copy of the "Davis-Monthan Airfield Register" with all the pilots' signatures and helpful cross-references to pilots and their aircraft is available at the link. Or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-0-1.

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There are no biographical dossiers at the National Air & Space Museum for any of the Border Patrol officers.

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Please direct your browser to this REFERENCE and note pages 125 & 203 for information about the U.S. Border Patrol activities in Arizona.

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UNITED STATES BORDER PATROL

Officers of the U.S. Border Patrol, established May 28, 1924, appear briefly in the Register of the Davis-Monthan Airfield. Between March and September, 1927 at least ten officers inspected aircraft and pilots on the ground at the Airfield for a total of at least 37 times.

Early in the life of the organization, Border Patrol officers visited Tucson and signed their names in the Remarks column of the Register with the annotation "Inspected by...." They appeared to be inspecting airplanes and perhaps evaluating the credentials of pilots and passengers, showing early evidence of the value placed on the security of United States borders. The context of the inspections could conceivably be couched in the facts that Prohibition was in full-effect, and that the Federal government had just mandated (1926) that pilots should be certificated.

For the most part, the officers' inspections seemed to be at random, with no particular itineraries questioned more than any other. However, Register pilot C.W. Gilpin was inspected four times by four different officers. A transport pilot, he was reputed to carry parched party-goers by air to Mexico drinking spots and then back to the U.S. Prohibition was the law of the land in 1927, and officers probably "profiled" him as a likely source of liquor entering the U.S. illegally. To my knowledge, Gilpin was always within the law in that regard and ran a well-used air transport company based at the Grand Central Air Terminal, Glendale, CA..

The table below summarizes the ten officer's names, 37 inspection dates, and who they inspected, as well as the Register pages on which they signed. Click the REGISTER button at top right and choose the pages cited. Scroll to the far right side of the image and you will see the officer's signatures on those pages. The officers appeared to be assigned to Tucson for random periods, as might be expected.

Page in Register

Date of Signing

Border Patrol Officer

Pilot & Airplane Inspected

16

3/28/27

Robert R. Budlong

Charles W. Mayse
 
3/28/27
  Charles W. Mayse
 
3/29/27
  C.W. Gilpin
 
3/30/27
  Charles W. Mayse
18
4/4/27
  C.E. Clark, Travel Air "The City of Oakland"
 
4/8/27
  Wentworth Goss
 
4/22/27
  Theodore T. Hull
   
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18

4/23/27

James J. Callahan/Budlong

H.C. Lippiatt
   
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18
5/1/27
Frank C. Fitch George A. Wiggs

 

5/4/27

 

Boyd Montieth Shelton
 
6/6/27
  Frank Hawks, NC3009
 
6/20/27
  A.R. Ebrite
 
6/25/27
  Frederic Whitney, NC3018
   
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18

5/16/27

C.F. Altfillisch

C.W. Gilpin
20
7/15/27
  Billy Parker, NC3019
   
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18

5/18/27

J.J. Fanell

C.W. Gilpin
   
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18

5/24/27

William B. Crow

D.C. Warren, NC181
 
5/25/27
  C.W. Gilpin
 
6/14/27
  H.C. Lippiatt, NC2123
 
6/18/27
  H.C. Lippiatt, NC2123
 
6/28/27
  Welford Gerbracht, NC1076
22
9/13/27
  J.B. Alexander, NC1443
 
9/13/27
  T.Claude Ryan, NC1444
   
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20

7/10/27

P.G. Raymond

Teamed with Gracie for first entry below

20

7/10/27

Chester Gracie

Kenneth R. Cole, NC2544
 
7/20/27
  Welford Gerbracht, NC1076
 
8/2/27
  Sterling Rohlfs, NC1418
 
8/3/27
  Robert Hancock, NC3301
 
8/3/27
  William H. Dowling
 
8/5/27
  Eugene J. Detmer, NC1108
 
8/6/27
  William A. Burke, NC2709
 
8/21/27
  J. Lloyd O'Donnell, NC1082
   
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20

8/9/27

R.V. Cummins

Sterling Rohlfs, NC1418
22
9/8/27
  J.F. Wallace
 
9/11/1927
  A.R. Ebrite
   
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22

8/28/27

Lee E. Caldwell (with Gray)

E.F.M. Deeds, NC2798
 
9/8/27
(with Martin) Billy Parker
 
9/15/27
(with unreadable) G.H. Wellingham, NC1473
   
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Interestingly, it is difficult to find information about these officers in the usual places. I learned from the Border Patrol Museum (cited in the right sidebar) that officer's names, photographs, schedules and status were kept confidential, even at that early date, to curb any criminal activities that may depend upon such information. This fact is corroborated by the finding that Google searches for the names are fruitless (except for officer Budlong, see below). As well, the National Air & Space Museum has no biographical files for any of them.

The good news is that the Border Patrol Museum does have archival photographs of at least two of the officers. Below, at center, is James J. Callahan. This image is placed at Camp Chigas, El Paso, TX in 1929, two years after Callahan signed the Register. This image is identified by the Museum number M05175.

J.J. Callahan (Center), El Paso, TX, 1929
J.J. Callahan, El Paso, TX, 1929

Below, at right, from Museum image 01450, is Frank C. Fitch. The date and exact location are unknown, but if we extrapolate the sign on the building behind them, it identifies the building as housing the "U.S.I.S. Border Patrol."

Frank C. Fitch, Right, Date & Location Unknown
Frank C. Fitch, Right, Date & Location Unknown

A third image from the Museum shows an officer named "(unknown) Caldwell", but a fourth image shows a Selden Caldwell. This name is different from our officer Lee E. Caldwell. It is difficult to determine from the photographs if the two men are the same individuals. Therefore I don't include the image(s) here (Museum images M05074 and M01139).

 

 

 

Preceding the U.S. Border Patrol was the Army Air Service Armed Patrol over the Mexico Border. The monograph, left, provides the history of the 1st Surveillance Group that was charged with the responsibility of border security before the national Border Patrol was established.

Based at Ft. Bliss, TX, several signers of the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register were members of the Group as indicated in the image below (Register signers underlined in red). Image from Hinkle, left.

 

 

 

 

1st Surveillance Group, 1920
1st Surveillance Group, 1920

Robert R . Budlong has a modest Web presence, mostly having to do with his later career as a National Park Service employee. According to an online census record, Budlong was born about 1904. As of 1930 he lived in Washington DC. Information from a family member indicates that he served in the Park Service until retiring in 1972.

Pieced together from various Web resources, the career of Robert Budlong, previously custodian at Casa Grande, became, from August 1 1934 to November 30, 1936, Custodian of the Canyon de Chelly National Monument. There he oversaw construction of the custodian's residence beginning on September 28, 1935.

Budlong, who had moved his "residence" six times since being appointed Custodian at Canyon de Chelly, was elated over the progress of the building. He described the residence as having two bedrooms, one bath, a large living room, an office, a dining alcove, a kitchen, and a service porch. In June, 1936 Budlong and his wife moved into their new quarters at Canyon de Chelly. They did not stay very long in their new home, because on November 30, 1936, he was transferred to El Morro.

At this link is an article written by Budlong in 1940 about Inscription Rock at El Morro National Monument.  Note he was also interested in old signatures! Page 14 of this link is about El Morro  and cites Budlong as Custodian of that monument.

Please, if you can help build our knowledge of these ten Border Patrol officers, please use this FORM to let me know.

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UPLOADED: 11/15/08 REVISED: 11/18/08, 10/09/09, 01/10/12, 05/01/12

 
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The images on this page are shared with us Courtesy of the National Border Patrol Museum, El Paso, TX, Brenda Tisdale, Curator, and used with permission.

Many thanks to Brenda and her staff and the Board of Directors of the Museum.

I'm looking for biographical information and photographs of these Border Patrol officers to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please use this FORM to contact me.
 
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