James E. Riddles
1910 – 1975
James Riddles was born in Windom, Fannin County, Texas, September 27, 1910. After completing high school, he attended Austin College, at Sherman, Texas, earning a B.S. in Business Administration in 1936. After graduating he taught mathematics and coached in public school in Fannin County. It was the concept of coaching and teamwork that became the hallmark of his administrative career in both the military and law enforcement.
In 1941 Jim Riddles joined the Texas Department of Public Safety as a Highway Patrolman but resigned within a year to enlist in the U.S. Army and aid the war effort as a military police officer. His ability as a leader, and coolness under pressure, earned him a place in Officer Candidate School. Upon graduation he was promoted to Second Lieutenant and rose to the rank of Captain. He served in the encircled town of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, at Remagen Bridge as a company commander, and ultimately as the first Provost Marshal of Berlin following the Allied occupation. After leaving the army, Riddles rejoined the Texas Department of Public Safety in 1946 and served in every division of the department.
Col. Homer Garrison recognized his ability and appointed him to the Texas Rangers where he became widely known for his skill as an interrogator and investigator. He quickly earned promotion from private to sergeant and served with distinction in Austin and Waco. In 1967, he was promoted to Captain of Company E, the former Frontier Battalion, headquartered in Midland.
Under Riddles’ command, the Rangers of Company E became known as “Riddles’ Rangers.” His motto was “Do the needful thing.” He managed by consideration and suggestion instead of orders. Few Rangers failed to recognize the value of Captain Riddles’ advice. One retired Riddles’ Ranger stated that he would rather have “shot himself in the foot than have disappointed his Captain.” Capt. Riddles said of his men, “My Rangers don’t need supervision in the field; if they needed field supervision they wouldn’t be Rangers.” Jim Riddles exhibited a fierce pride in the men who served under his command and always considered it an honor rather than a job to have been chosen a leader among such officers. Capt. Riddles often said, “Occasionally a Ranger may need some help and that’s my job.” Captain Riddles’ ability to analyze a situation and determine a course of action resolved many potentially dangerous situations.
Jim Riddles remained in Midland for eight years. In 1974 he completed a second degree in Law Enforcement Administration from Sul Ross University. Throughout his career he took great pride in having the opportunity to teach many law enforcement officers who would later serve throughout the state and the U.S. His career was cut short by his untimely death in 1975. Capt. Riddles exemplified the pride, quiet self-reliance, ability and service that made him among the most admired modern Texas Ranger captains.
Suggestions for further reading:
- Vertical files, Texas Ranger Research Center, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, Waco, TX