History: Troops encounter ‘enemy’ at Port Isabel

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It was a Tuesday morning in 1940 when troops from Brownsville’s Fort Brown and Rio Grande City’s Fort Ringgold sounded the “alert” to get ready to confront “the enemy” at Port Isabel.
Within minutes, both forts broke camp with 1,000 men in uniform and fully armed ready to meet the invaders.
The purpose of the movement was an overnight maneuver testing the efficiency of training of the 12th Cavalry. By 7:30 in the morning, an estimated 700 soldiers from Fort Brown started their crusade toward Port Isabel; and, at the same time, 300 troops from Fort Ringgold started moving east.
As the drive began, an observation plane from San Antonio Air Base monitored the entire maneuver through radios in scout cars.
The main objective was to engage the mythical enemy, which had plans to invade Port Isabel. The group leaving Brownsville first set camp at Bayview — where they would contact the enemy and thus preventing them from reaching Port Isabel.
The hovering plane controlled the direction of their movement, which was in constant contact with ground troops. The plane directed the exercise between Fort Brown and Fort Ringgold in one of the first co-operative missions between horses and planes in the border area.
When the troops left their forts, they were equipped to stay in the field for six-weeks. But after a day and a half, the workout that started on a Tuesday morning ended by the afternoon of the next day.
Mission accomplished!
Editor’s Note: Rene Torres is a retired assistant professor from the University of Texas at Brownsville, and Texas Southmost College. He has a long history in the Rio Grande Valley as an educator, sports historian, and humanitarian with a wealth of community service to his credit.

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