LIGHT UP THE LINE WEEKEND 4-6APR08
Without a doubt the longest report I have written for a single weekend………..
I left home at 0530 arriving in Jacumba at 0745. After gassing up and evacuating coffee, I set off down old Highway 80, veering left on 94. I arrived at the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC) “Camp Vigilance” at 0815.
It was the beginning of the large yearly April muster and the camp was heavily populated. I visited with the men and threw on my gear in preparation for my usual westward trek down the border road from Tierra De Sol to Patriot Point, just southwest of Campo. There was a border patrol truck parked at Camp Vigilance and the patriots on hand informed me that they had spotted a large group of illegals entering the southeast portion of the property earlier that morning. Before departing the agent returned and informed us they had caught 20! Credit MCDC with the assist. Good Job!
I put in at Red Shank at 0850 and headed slowly west down the border road. There were no agents in the area and there were many signs of entry at various points. As I neared the cinder block pump house fresh booties littered the road. I pressed on to the section where the service road starts running parallel to the border road.
I had hardly entered the service road when I spotted three men just behind the fence in Mexico.
I took the opportunity to remove my Mossberg 590 from my toolbox, and load it. Before placing it in the rack in my cab I pointed it toward the three men and to my surprise they called my bluff and got up on the fence.
They began whistling and hollering and it became obvious they were spotters for a group located somewhere behind me. I could not see the intruders, but it was obvious from all the signaling that some had got through. I attempted to phone BP but neither one of my cell phones had service and I was too far away to raise patriot point on my FM radio. Next time I will be sure to phone Lil Dog when I enter at Red Shank and tell him to man the AM frequency which we tested on my last trip. I would’ve been able to raise the point had I done this. Instead I had to move, heading west until I got a cell phone signal. At the first shade shed east of Smith canyon I phoned BP Campo with the report. Then I headed on to Smith. I usually give Kingfish a courtesy call about this time but he was not in his position.
As I headed into Smith I could see on the other side what appeared to be construction work taking place. I wondered if the road was blocked and thought about doubling back and leaving out Shockey Truck road. But surely they had to have the road clear for BP and, if it was blocked I assumed they would have barricades up at the bottom, blocking entry up the west side. I found no such blockade at the bottom so I continued on up the west side.
About halfway up I found my progress stopped by the Army Corps of Engineers who were installing a badly needed drainage pipe.
I stopped and visited with the men who assured me they would make a passageway through so that I could continue on to Patriot Point.
After visiting with Lil Dog and others at the point,
I set off to the west on patrol. By 1130 I was at the base of Cap Rock facing east, looking down both sides of the line. BP joined me for a short, then I headed off to Zuellnner’s high point at 1250. At 1400 an agent joined me again. He had been tracking on the border road below me and wanted to set off on foot in the area directly below and surrounding Zuellner’s high point. I told him I would keep an eye on him from above and watch his truck.
He wandered around below, hitting spots not easily seen from our position, then came back, ate his lunch and left the high point.
At 1535 I relocated to 127, not on the high point beside the tower but rather, on the low dead end road on the east side of the tower pad. I was having a “sinkin’ spell, switched on my motion sensors and propped my feet up on my door for a little cat nap. No sooner than I had drifted off to sleep my rear sensor beeped loudly and I leaped to my feet preparing to unholster my trusty Glock19. I found an equally startled minuteman coming up behind my truck, imploring me not to shoot and asking if I was Charlie Uno. It was Daniel Boon, a patriot I had had electronic communications with but had never met in person. He asked about my sensors, an idea I got from Mad Max years ago. I was grateful they had worked, but the fact that he had parked above me unnoticed at first illuminated a blind spot in my electronic defenses.
Around 1650 a familiar yellow pickup in Mexico was reported heading west on the Pemex from the ranchita road and apparently it stopped behind the 241. This is a favorite unloading point for smugglers and soon the radio was filled with traffic reporting intruders approaching the 241. I never saw the would-be traffickers and about 1900 I decided that perhaps my truck, in plain view from the summit, was deterring the invaders. I drove off from the 127 west down the border road, then doubled back down the service road at the 126. I parked out of sight behind the rocky hill just west of the 127, a favorite trail judging by the amount of clothing and water bottles.
This was the exact same area where I had sent two backpackers BTM on my last mission. Mindful of snakes I scampered low up the hill where I could view the 241 unnoticed, hoping the absence of my truck at the 127 might draw the as yet unseen spotters in to America.
It was not to be, however, and I never did see any POIs. I eventually curtailed my solo foot patrol and returned to my truck at 1945.
I spent the bulk of the rest of the evening patrolling the well lit line, visiting with old and new friends.
At some point late in the evening, while once again patrolling west down the border road west of the 241, my rearview mirror was brightly illuminated by a strange sight, approaching fast from the rear. It looked like an alien spaceship.
Turns out it was Ronbo and 36 in Ronbo’s extremely well lit Yamaha 4 wheeler. The vertical light pole wobbling in the darkness could not help but make me laugh. It was great to meet Ronbo, whos’ field reports I enjoy reading. I had never met him in person and it was nice to place a face with a handle. 36 is an old friend and of course it was good to see him. We visited a while on the border road before we all headed off to continue Lighting Up The Line.
By that time a generator had been set up at the base of the 241 and Boston, Daniel Boon and Weasel had made the ascent to illuminate the Stars and Stripes atop the summit. It was a beautiful and inspirational sight to see the 241 flag lit up all night. I regret that my little camera could not do this momentous occasion justice.
Crucial to the success of this mission was the maintenance and guarding of the generator at the base of 241. Bonfire completed this task without complaint. I had had e-mail contact with Bonfire in the weeks prior to the Light Up The Line event but she was another hearty patriot I had not met in person. She stayed at the base of the 241, along with her boxer Vinny, the entire chilly night. At some point in the wee hours I went to check on her, bring her coffee and remind her to keep her radio turned up and to be alert, especially due to her proximity to the border fence, which ends but a few feet from where she was positioned. She performed valiantly and the flag lighting could not have been such a success without her. Thanks Bonfire! And thank you for the special “raptor” feather! Mitakuye Oyasin!
BP had informed me that the area between 241 and Cap Rock was on scope and that our lighting of the line to the east had successfully funneled invading forces to the Zuellner’s area. BP also disclosed to me that certain areas (which I will not divulge in print, but which our men are now aware of) are blind to the scope. The agents requested that I patrol those areas in an effort to keep the groups bottled up in the scoped areas, with help from Weasel, on foot at high points on the west side of 241 and utilizing his night vision equipment we assisted, the agents. At 0520 BP had 6 in custody at the Zuellners turnout and were tracking others on the scope. A job well done for agents and minutemen alike and a tribute to how a few dedicated civilians can assist the under-manned and over burdened United States Border Patrol.
At BP’s request I returned to Zuellner’s high point at 0620, just in time to observe a very fast moving cloud bank.
I radioed Bravo2, stationed at the Couch trail, advising that he would soon be fogged in, information which was probably hard to believe as it had been a clear crisp morning up to that point. In a matter of minutes I was completely fogged in at Zuellner’s high point and headed back to the border road below, thinking accurately that if I was preparing to cross illegally, now would be the time.
I met with an agent at the base of the Cap Rock who confirmed that there were at least two groups on the other side, waiting to cross.
More agents were on the way and he very politely asked me to “clear out.” I work with any patriotic individual or group, but take orders only from Border Patrol or other law enforcement agency. At 0650 I cleared out to the east, patrolling the G road, on to the border road at the PCT and westward to the 141. By 0800 I had returned to the point to retire in the back of Godzilla for some badly needed sleep.
I slept solid for about an hour an a half before awakening to the sound of the BP supervisor’s voice making his morning rounds to visit Lil Dog, “The Prisoner of Patriot Point”. The supervisor brings Dog a newspaper nearly every morning, gives and receives a SitRep.
I hung around the point, making and drinking coffee, re-filling my thermoses and visiting with the other minutemen. At 1145 I set off on patrol to the west. Almost as soon as I hit the border road a call came on the radio saying two men in Mexico where clearly visible at the east side base of the 241.
I sped to the position find two men apparently working on the barbed wire fence, behind the border fence. I drove to the turnaround at the high base of 241, where Bonfire had been stationed the night before. There I could see down both sides of the line and I watched the two men ambling slowly east, stopping occasionally to fumble with the spotty range fence. When they got to the large gap in the fence below the 130, I repositioned and drove slowly beside them taking pictures. When they stopped and began to mend the fence in earnest I stopped my truck, got out and struck up a conversations as best I could with my miserable Spanish and their less than fluent English.
I asked them why they were fixing the fence. (though I didn’t really care, to anyone who wants to re-enforce the border with barbed wire I say go to it!) They said “por la vacas” “What?”, I replied. Then one said, in broken English, “fixing the fence so the cows don’t get out.” I radioed Lil dog and told him this to which he replied, “Charlie One, do you see any cattle?” Nope, come to think of it I have never seen any “vacas” over there. They were playing me for a fool. I asked them if their Jefe was in the ranchita and they said no, pointing instead to the house further east. Then I asked them where the drug traffickers came through and to my surprise and amusement they both pointed to the 241 and said, “Door number 2!” I asked them where door number 1 is and they pointed to the east, not eager to be so specific. They said their names were Alejandro and Roberto and they cheerfully posed for a picture.
After I left them Bravo2 reported they wandered back south and disappeared in a rocky spot, which is a favorite place for groups to hide when waiting to cross. Later that night I believe a group from that area might well have used “door number 1” to get past us. As of this writing I have yet to receive a report verifying the 60 head of cattle the men claimed would be arriving on Sunday. As of this writing 16 vacas have been spotted.
By 1230 I headed off to the west, patrolling to Cap Rock and then back to the 127. I received a cell phone call from Bonfire and then from Weasel declaring that San Diego County Sheriffs had just busted a minuteman (woman) on weapons charges, They implored me to disarm. The report turned out to not be entirely accurate and, at any rate my weapon and permit are both perfectly legal. It turns out the individual was cited for riding a quad with no helmet and for carrying a passenger. During the stop, however, it became obvious that the women were both armed and their pistols were partially obscured, possibly fitting the description of concealed weapons. From what I understand the Sheriffs confiscated the weapons for a while, ran the numbers and returned them with a warning. The Sheriffs were out in force with multiple units the remainder of the evening, with out incident. I figure, the more law enforcement on the border the better.
I returned to the point after visiting with people at the event HQ on the “Grassy Knoll” at 1650 an amazing and baffling incident occurred. Jim Gilchrest, along with the mayor of Corona and a photographer came up to the Point!!
I have been laboring as to how to write this up. I am still amazed that the man showed up at Patriot Point after an absence of at least two years. What was he thinking? The mans balls can only be outsized by his ego. Ouroboros, call sign Boston, wrote it up probably better than I ever could and his description of the occasion, appropriately entitled “The Emperor Has No Clothes” can be found at :
Needless to say the co-founder of the Minuteman movement was greeted none too friendly.
He has professed to support the movement but has done little of substance to prove it. The following is only one man’s perspective, mine:
I was MMP all the way but after many months and years wondered where the support was. I came to Campo at the end of the California Minutemen in April 2006, after briefly serving with the Friends of the Border Patrol (another group that died at the hands of a greedy ego-maniac wanna be politician) and the Border Search and Rescue. At the kick off of the April 2006 event, at least the days that I was there, Gilchrist was nowhere to be found. The California Minutemen morphed into the Campo Minutemen, a group I served with for over year. It disintegrated into a handful of loosely associated individuals, many of whom I overheard griping that promised support from Gilchrist’s Minuteman Project never happened, or trickled in infrequently. Saddened by lack of organization and enthusiasm on the border I drifted to Patriot Point, even though all Campo Minutemen were warned never to go near Lil Dog, that he was crazy. Hell yes he’s crazy, He lives just feet from one of the busiest drug and human trafficking corridors in North America! Seeing that porous frontier repeatedly penetrated is enough to drive any sane American a bit nuts! After seeing his operation, which is closely linked with that of the Border Patrol, I decided to align myself with the Patriot Point Posse, where it seemed I could do the most good. I will, however, work with any and all stalwart patriots, no matter which group they claim to be with provided they are part of the solution and do not hinder BP or law enforcement in any way. I’m rambling, let me pause to tell you a brief story.
One early morning, while I was serving with the Campo Minuteman, I was on patrol and saw evidence of entry around the 239. I got on the radio to contact my Campo cohorts but none would answer. After trying many times, even though I knew men where in the area, I gave up, feeling isolated. Then a clear crisp voice came over the Campo frequency, “I hear you Charlie One, your radio is getting out.” It was Lil Dog, the man I had been warned about, who sleeps with his radio scanning, responding to assure me my radio worked and I was not the lone minuteman in the area! He didn’t have to do that. He could’ve sat back and laughed, knowing a Campo Minuteman could not raise his own men.
Gilchrists’ actions at Patriot Point on 5APR08 speak volumes about the man. Yes, there was a lot of loud, and probably needless, name calling on both sides. But what the hell did he expect?? These were men that at one time respected and even revered him and he had abandoned them. When he was repeatedly asked why, he could not counter with any coherent explanation for his actions and could only call us names. Repeatedly he called me and anyone who demanded an explanation, losers. “You’re all losers” Gilchrist said over and over. Lets examine that for a minute, Jimbo.
Webster defines a loser as “one who fails to use (waste)”, “one who fails to win or obtain” or one who fails to keep or maintain.”
I am no historian but….
In 2005 the Minutemen movement was founded in Arizona by Jim Gilchrist and Chris Simcox. Shortly thereafter there was a split resulting in Chris Simcox founding the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC) and Gilchrist founding the Minuteman Project (MMP). I know there are allegations about MCDC misappropriating funds and say what you will about Simcox and his ego (I know I have in the past) but the MCDC is many hundreds of men strong in many states and has the organization, support, property and equipment to get the job done. While I have never been on a mission with MCDC I have been a vetted member since April 2006.
MMP has no such organization, property, equipment or support for men in the field.
You failed to maintain the movement you founded, Jim.
Then elements within the MMP took the organization from Gilchrist amid allegations of fraud on his part and financial mismanagement. On 5APR08 he repeatedly tried to cite this event as a cause for his absence on the border and his lack of support for the boots on the ground doing his originally intended mission. The taking of MMP from Gilchrist is a matter still in the courts, but it looks like, at least for the time being, you failed keep your own organization, Jim.
Gilchrist unsuccessfully ran as an American Independent Party candidate for the United States House of Representatives representing California’s 48th Congressional District to replace Republican Chris Cox, who resigned to become Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
In the low-turnout open primary for Cox’s seat held on October 4, 2005, Gilchrist finished behind two Republicans but ahead of all other candidates, including Democrats. He received 14.8% of the vote (a total of 13,423 votes). He was the only one running under his party, and therefore automatically advanced into the run-off.
Gilchrist lost to Republican John Campbell in the December 6 general election, receiving 25.5% (26,507) of the vote. Campbell received 44.4% (46,184), Steve Young (Democrat) 27.8% (28,853), Bea Tiritilli (Green) 1.4% (1,430), Bruce Cohen (Libertarian) 0.9% (974). –wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Gilchrist
Jim had men in the field, watching the border, all claiming allegiance to his MMP. Yet he didn’t show up. Apparently he promised support which not only failed to materialize, but was blatantly withheld. At some point he also had a falling out with Jim Chase, founder of the California Minutemen. My point, in brief lucid moments in my conversation with Jim Gilchrist on that day at the Point was that all he ever had to do was to suit up, show up on the border now and then, and support the troops, in whatever way he could. As a Vietnam vet you would think he would’ve comprehended that concept. As Bravo 2 said, as he vigilantly observed the gap in the fence below the couch trail, “Hell, from time to time he could’ve just brought us a bucket of chicken.”
Your actions Jim, or more specifically the lack thereof, successfully gained you a total lack of respect from the very patriots you professed to inspire. You’re a documented, historically verified, in the records book:
God Bless You Jim Gilchrist for your service to our country in Vietnam and for starting the movement you so shamelessly abandoned. Now pack your shit because:
I left the Point while the drama continue to ensue, and about 1800, after visiting with Bravo2 at his position, I was back on patrol westbound. As I slowly rolled down the border road toward Cap Rock I noticed a pickup with a camper top parked right up next to the fence by the 125 marker. I did not recognize the truck at first and was about to radio in a report of a suspicious vehicle when I rolled up and saw it was my old friend 36. I asked him jokingly, “What the hell are you doing sittin’ here?” To which he replied, “Waitin’ for you! I figured you’d roll down this way sooner or later.” Apparently he had used a lesser-traveled trail to get to the border road and was expecting me. 36 and I share some common history and let me tell you it was good to visit with a calm voice of reason after the heated shouting match with Gilchrist. An old friend once told me, there ain’t no miracles or coincidences, just acts of God in the nick of time. 36 sittin’ there was an act of God in the nick of time. I broke out my thermos and we had us a good old-fashioned tailgate meetin’ then he was on his way. I went up to the base of Cap Rock at about 1900 and parked, pondering the day’s events. The sun had all but set and I began hearing voices. I got out of my truck in time to see three men descending the summit. They were still in Mexico but I alerted Border Patrol anyway. An agent rolled up pretty quick and said they had some groups trying to cross west of Cap Rock. I figure the three I saw were probably spotters. He warned me about sitting so close to the side of Cap Rock as some agents had been rocked there earlier. I decided to press on. I patrolled east down to the 141 and back, stopping from time to time to visit with event attendees. A couple of time as my lit up rig rolled by I could here people shout Charlie Uno! It was on my westward, return pass that I rolled up to the darkened Oaks and Gadget flagged me down. He said a lady, to my north by the road into the Oaks, wanted to take a picture of my truck. What the hell I said, why not. This was the photo that ended up be plastered all over the web and in e-mails that initially got me so mad.
It resulted in a blog and e-mail tirade, which I later regretted and for which the retraction is posted in the entry below. The picture made it seem like I was participating in some Campo Minutemen occurance rather than the well-planned and publicized Mountain Minuteman and Americans4America LIGHT UP THE LINE event. In retrospect there was really no harm done, and anyone who has ever been down there probably knows my well-lit truck anyway.
By 2030 I was parked at the entrance pad to the 127. Exhausted from less than three hours sleep in the past 36 hours I switched on my sensors and took a catnap. I had barely begun to doze when the radio flared. Dog was calling from the point requesting my status. Several intruders had been detected in the low spot immediately west of the Point.
They were on the north side and had disappeared into the bushy creek bed north and west of Dog’s position. I hurriedly switched off my sensors and headed out. Dog radioed that if I took the G road I might be able to intercept. As I neared the bottom were the “creek” crosses the road, Weasel took over on the radio. He wanted to use my spot to help his night vision device in the moonless darkness. Over the radio he directed me where to control the spotlight so as to provide his NVG with help without blinding him. After fifteen minutes or so we gave up. I backtracked to the creek bottom and found fresh signs of crossing. I was going to take a photo of the tracks but my camera was not in its’ pocket in my vest. I searched my truck, trashed from two days of duty, to no avail. Then I hauled ass back to the 127, thinking perhaps it had fallen out when I had got out of the truck to take a leak. When I arrived at the 127 there was a BP supervisor there eating a sandwich. He was parked right where I had been and we scoured the area, including under his tires. ( years ago I lost my cell phone at the 139, I found it later but not before it had been run over) No luck, the camera was not on the ground. I searched the interior of my truck again and found it, buried in the trash. When I start losing things I know it’s time to call it a night. I headed back to the Point. At 0030, 6APR08 I crawled in the back of Godzilla and was out like a light. I slept soundly until 0630, got up and after visiting with the other Posse members I hit the road. By 0800 I was on 94, heading east to old Highway 80. I always like to take the scenic route in and out and here’s why:
At 0830, just east of Boulevard, I noticed a man with a backpack walking slowly across a pasture. When he saw me he hit the deck. Hell, it was short grass, which gave him no cover. I pulled over and checked for cell phone coverage. When I did he took off running and I was about to call BP Boulevard to report one POI, when at least fifteen sprang from the bushes and ran following him!
I phoned it in then backtracked to the closest road in. They were heading due north not half a mile from I-8, I could see the freeway, when they disappeared in a thick grove of trees and brush. Two BP trucks were there in matter of minutes and we parked our vehicles and took off on foot.
The agents were joined by two more in a single truck who said others agents had taken up position on the freeway. I lost the agents who were tracking on foot and attempted to do some tracking of my own with little success.
I was almost the to freeway, flat land with high brush to my east and boulder piles to my west. Then I saw an agent high on the rocks to my right.
He must’ve been one of the agents who had come in from the freeway but he was well to the west of where I figured the aliens would’ve been. Then two agents came out of the rocks, followed by two more and said the group had made a hard west turn the trees and bushes where I saw them disappear. We all headed back to our trucks and I went back west on Hwy 80.
There were BP everywhere and one agent told me they already had nine men in custody. Two or three had TBSed and they had made it across 80.
About the time he said that two agents ran south across the road, apparently hot on the trail. The agent also informed me that that thought they had at least three or four still holed up in the rocks and brush between 80 and I-8. BP obviously had the situation well in hand so I figured there was nothing else for me to see or do. I really wanted to get photos of the invaders being loaded into a BP truck but instead I headed west on 80 to Boulevard and then got on the freeway headed home. But then I decided to stop on the side of the freeway about where I had thought the group would’ve gone. It was obvious that the route had been used many times in the past, trash and booties littered the area. There were BP agents all over both sides of the highway and I could see one BP truck parked on a high point over looking the area on north side of 8. Then I heard the helicopter. The one they call Omaha.
I jumped in my truck and crossed the divider heading back toward the Boulevard exit. Omaha flew beside me for about half a mile!!
I exited then re-entered I-8 eastbound. I really wanted to get a photo for the blog of them putting a group in their truck but it was not to be. I was, however, treated to a coordinated land and aerial search, which resulted in at least three aliens being found hiding in the brush.
After seeing all I figured I could see. I headed back down the embankment to my truck. There was a CHP officer parked behind it.
I walked slowly toward him, hands in plain sight and bright green and gold shirt with Mountain Minutemen-Patriot Point Posse emblazoned on the front. He said, “You know it’s illegal to park on the freeway for any reason don’t you?” I replied, “Well, yes sir, but see that helicopter? He’s up there because of a report I phoned in. I sure wanted to see them carry away the bastards! I will leave now, with your permission sir.” He just smiled and waved and I headed off.
The weather’s warming up and our liberal do-gooders are setting water out on the trails for law-breaking invaders. I counted three of these stations going down the grade east of Jacumba.
At 1130 I had my final contact with BP as they waved me through the Hwy 86 checkpoint.
I hope and pray that we can all work together to stop the drug and human trafficking that goes on hourly through our porous borders. Our country depends on it. Each of us has strengths and weaknesses. The men on the border, the forum posters, the day labor site protesters, the highway adopters, the political activists, the bloggers and more, all have a place in the movement. General Patton said, “If everyone is thinking alike then someone is not thinking.”
I pray that we can support, rather than belittle each other. Our goal is the same. Let’s not be diverted from the primary purpose. But if the border is secured a lot of the problems are automatically solved. Think about it.
Many years away from any sort of retirement, I am but a weekend border warrior. I hope to be back on the line defending the border in a couple of weeks. Come on down and help protect this great nation!