A day in the Patrol

Stand With Honor

Benjamin Wetherill
Senior Patrol Agent, U.S. Border Patrol

I joined the Border Patrol because my Father had a deep and abiding respect for the Border Patrol and its agents. One of the friends of his family, when he was a child, joined the Patrol and he remembered the character of that man. My Father was very proud when I was selected for the Patrol and from the very beginning my experience was unique. My academy class was an experimental class of 500 trainees, class 226 which trained at Fort McClellan in Anniston, Alabama. Graduating in March of 1989 I reported to Yuma, Arizona where I was stationed for the next eight years.

There was a morning, sometime just after my probationary period, that would define my career and begin my love for the Border Patrol. At that time, I was on the Midnight shift and my work started like any other. I was assigned to the East Desert and began the shift with a cut of the Border drag. In Border Patrol speak, I started my shift by driving West on the border road, looking out of my of driver side window for any foot sign of people entering the United States from Mexico. Within five miles I encountered sign of my first group of the evening and after contacting my partners I turned northbound and began following the sign. Leapfrogging, my partners and I took turns following the sign as we would jump ahead of the tracking agent to intersect the sign on a road ahead of him. When you found the sign you would take over tracking and the other agents would jump ahead of you. In this way we would track and arrest ten groups that morning, chasing them across the desert in our trucks at up to 35 miles an hour. As the sun crept up over the horizon, we had isolated the tenth group in a citrus grove. We looked for over an hour and couldn’t seem to figure out where the group had gone. Backtracking, I noticed a line of brush consisting of piles of tree limbs and saw what looked like brown fur in one pile. Looking closer I peered down into the branches to see an eyeball looking up at me through a brown coat. I had found the last group. I don’t think the job has ever gotten any better than that moment and yet I have encountered many wonders since then.

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