A Hot Trail in South Texas
Early one hot late summers morning I left McAllen Border Patrol Station and went Northwest. I picked up a trail in La Gloria, Texas , coming off of the Diamond-O Ranch that Rio Grande City, Texas, Agents had been running the previous day up from Las Brisas. I guesstimated a time frame and went ahead to try to cut the sign. This area north and east of La Gloria was sort of a no man's land that encompassed two Sectors and about four station areas that was quite remote and difficult to access.
Sam Scaief was one of Dudley Clanahans pilots that flew out of McAllen Station in the early 80's. Sam knew that I had gone up toward La Gloria that morning and why I had gone. Sam loved to work trail. So it was quite natural that Sam came looking for me in the new Cessna after he had attended to his assigned area. Sam sure liked to wiggle the wings on that bird and it didn't take long for us to hook up. Sam found me up on the Kelsey Bass Pipeline where I had cut the group and lined them out using pink toilet paper to mark that particular trail. Sam didn't reserve his opinion about the choice of colors that day. Since it was common to be working several trails through this roadless area at a time, it made it easier if we used different colored paper to mark which trail was which for the pilots so they could fly an extended line ahead and stay on the right trail. All they had to do was line up the like colored markers and fly that line up ahead.
During our sojourn that day we covered a lot of ground. Sam went back to various airports and fueled up twice. He was on his third tank of fuel when he came back to my location for the last time. I watched as Sam passed over my head and climbed almost out of sight. Somewhat curious, I inquired as to where he was going ? His reply was simple. "I am going up to 72 Degrees. Call me if you need me."
Shortly, I could hardly see the Cessna and could just barely hear him northeast of my location. By this time, we had trailed the group almost to the HWY 755, HWY 281 intersection near a pueblito called Encino , Texas . It was then, and remains today, the hottest day I can recall working sign cut in the South Texas sandhills. I was on foot trailing this group through the Brooks County Sand when I came upon their lay up. I could smell the aliens before I could make out the lay up. A man would have had to have had a really bad cold not to have picked up the scent. Naturally, I approached the area cautiously. The group had rooted and wallered around quite a bit and had spent considerable time in that bit of brush.
About 200 yards away and in their direction of travel was a large concrete stock tank full of water. I told Sam I could smell aliens and could see they were going toward a stock tank. Sam said 10-4 and stayed at 72 Degrees.
I followed the group from the lay up to the stock tank. At the stock tank I could see where they had just watered a short while earlier and had left a jug full of water tilted over on the sand. The water was still filtering into the sand. I advised Sam of this, he replied 10-4 and stayed at 72 Degrees.
As I followed the groups sign away from the stock tank I could see from their tracks that they were running. I found one of their tennies that one had literally run out of. I advised Sam of this, he replied 10-4 and stayed up there at 72 Degrees.
A short distance from the tennis shoe I found a cigarette that had been lit just before being thrown on the ground, the ash was only about an inch long and still smouldering.
I advised Sam of this latest discovery and as I looked skyward, I saw the Cessna bank hard right and dive straight at me like a green tail hawk after a blue quail. Sam then circled left and came up behind me low and smooth. (You can't call a Cessna quiet) I saw the first aliens buggered up in the Oak Mont just ahead of me as Sam swooped over us. He called out that they were scattered out in the brush just ahead of me.
As we went through the process of gathering them all up and counting noses, Sam stayed pretty close. After we got the whole bunch rounded up and lined out he stayed with us until we got the aliens back to my unit, which took quite a while. He even helped me navigate out of that remote pasture before resuming 72 degrees and a southern route.
Yes sir. If anyone asks you about Sam The Man Scaief, you can tell them that he was a great sign cut pilot, and, that if he couldn't find anything else while out sign cutting he could and did find 72 Degrees on the hottest day there ever was in South Texas .
Zack Taylor, 112th BPA (Brackettville, McAllen , Nogales )