The Texas Rangers. They are the oldest statewide law enforcement agency in the country. Blending the flavor and mystique of the old west with the very latest in modern technology. Laptop computers? Standard issue. Cowboy hat and boots? Part of the uniform.
Founded in 1823, they embodied justice on the frontier. Usually alone, their sidearm their only backup. Today, a Ranger's gun is unmistakable -- a reflection of its owner, and a tribute to a longstanding tradition of being unique.
Their self-reliance and independence is expected and encouraged, but not always appreciated. In 1939, before the U.S. entered WWII, but after Germany started tearing up Europe, 50 retired Texas Rangers offered their services to the Kind of England. We'll help protect your borders from a Nazi invasion, they said. The State Department was unamused. The King of England thanked them anyway.
Back on the home front, the Rangers barreled into the 20th century with the same bravado of the 1800's. Their ranks kept small, their responsibilities enormous. Apprehending fugitives, solving murders, aggressively pursuing advancements in police science. Their tactics and results make them world renowned. Interest in becoming a Ranger soars.
There's a long list of requirements that have to be met before ever being considered worthy of the silver star. But underneath it all must be a quality best described by former Ranger Captain Bob Crowder.
"A ranger," he said, "must be able to handle any given situation without definite instruction from his commanding officer. This ability must be met before a man can be a ranger," said Crowder.
One of those men was Frank Hamer. A Ranger so esteemed he was pulled out of retirement to hunt down Bonnie and Clyde. He tracked them for 102 days before catching them at a road block.
"Stick 'em up," he said. Instead they pulled their weapons. Seconds later, they were dead.
In the 180 years that the Texas Rangers have been patrolling the Lone Star State, 79 have died in the line of duty. Private W.B. Anglin was killed in a fight with Indians, buried at the site of the battle on June 29th, 1879. Private Quirl Carnes was shot in an ambush by Mexican bandits on July 31st, 1910. And most recently, Sergeant Stan Guffey was shot while rescuing a three year-old girl who had been kidnapped and was being held for ransom. A granite marker pays tribute to his sacrifice.
There are 20 million Texans, but just over 100 Rangers. Their creed diminishes even the most outlandish odds: "No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that's in the right, and keeps on a comin'."