'While You Were Sleeping': Alamo Rangers protect history, answer questions in middle of night

A whole team watches over sacred site, keeps out trouble

By Katrina Webber - Crime Fighters Reporter, Tim Stewart - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - People from all around the globe travel to The Alamo each day to see one of Texas’ most historic and sacred sites.

By night, there are lots of eyes on it too.

A team of rangers watches over the shrine and surrounding grounds 24 hours each day.

Corporal Christopher Marvin is part of the overnight patrol, the team who works the shift known as “dogwatch.”

“Our job is, pretty much, to protect it, make sure nobody does any damage to it and, you know, no one messes with history,” he said.

During the six years that he has been part of that team, Marvin said plenty of people have tried to do harm to The Alamo.

As an example, he mentioned one man who he caught climbing over an outside wall, who then denied knowing he was doing anything wrong.

Most often times, though, people tried to climb on or touch delicate relics, Marvin said.

“We do get people from time to time who leave trash on the property,” he said. “That's what bothers me the most.”

Marvin and the rest of the team rotate, taking turns standing watch in front of the shrine.

Overnight duties also including walking the grounds and keeping watch on a full bank of surveillance cameras, making sure intruders don’t get in and that nothing valuable leaves the property.

“I feel like it’s an honor to work here,” said Roger Ramirez, another ranger. “It's not as much traffic as it is during the day, but it's pretty interesting.”

Ramirez said he prefers the overnight shift because he’s able to avoid working in the heat of the day.

The rangers, however, do have to work through all kinds of weather.

Even on this unusual schedule, they say they’re usually not alone.

Visitors stop by all the time. 

“I give them a brief history and I also tell them to come in the morning. I say, 'We've got a visitors center here,'” Ramirez said.

Marvin, meanwhile, uses history to keep himself company.

He said during quiet times overnight, he often fantasizes about the famous 1836 battle and the people who did their best to stand their ground there.

"At this point you can see people running and charging the walls. The cannon fire,” he said, describing the scene in his mind. "For me it's kind of, like, 'Ah, wow. Can you imagine back in the day?'”

Doing the job of a ranger, Marvin said, is much like being a modern-day Alamo defender.

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