Pancho Villa State Park (PVSP) Chief Ranger, John Read (L) and FASF Vice President, Roy Mantei (R) at work.
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While it may be Friday the 13, it’s still a good luck business as usual day for your First Aero Squadron Foundation.
Pictured above (thanks to your Aerodrome staff) is long time FASF member John Read, Left, Manager of New Mexico’s Pancho Villa State Park, and fellow FASF member, Trustee and Vice President, Roy Mantei. Both John and Roy hail from the town of Deming, NM, about 30 miles North of Columbus. John and Roy met to push along planning for both the upcoming Camp Furlong Days event, March 7th, and also to continue planning for the once-in-a-lifetime Centennial of the Birth of American Air Power, the Spring of next year.
If you can possibly do so, try and schedule the morning and early afternoon of this upcoming Saturday, March 7, to take in the Camp Furlong festivities in Columbus. If you’ve never had the pleasure and sheer fun of attending this annual event, you’ve missed out on a good day of festive fun and colorful New Mexican history. There will be the traditional Raid Day Cabalgata, the parading of hundreds of horses from both Mexico and the States through the Columbus streets, which will all terminate for the first time, at the Village’s new Community Center Complex, currently being remodeled from the old Columbus Elementary School facilities located at North Boundary Rd. and Missouri Street in NE Columbus.
Columbus Mayor, Philip Skinner, invites one and all to join in the historic and commemorative festivities, which will include food, music, folkloric dancers, craft displays and more. He and his staff have planned a number of these and other events, all of which will be held for the first time at the old school. The horses and riders from both countries first rendezvous at the border, and then ride the three miles up to Columbus, where they are expected to arrive about 10:00 in the morning.
As a point of special interest, one of our own Trustees, Bill Wallace III, will be officiating right at the border. It will be Bill who actually opens the border gates to let the Mexican horsemen and women cross into the United States.
Later in the morning, down at the Pancho Villa Park, their events will kick off at 11:00 AM, when Columbus Senior Historian, Richard Dean, President of the Columbus Historical Society, gives his presentation and slideshow, “Summer in Columbus in 1916 Through the Eyes of Two Teenagers.” This true life tale is based upon the diary of then young teenager, Alfred Wilson and it’s colorfully documented by photos taken by his brother Harold, during the summer after the infamous raid.
In the afternoon, right after lunch, there will be more informative educational presentations made at the same Park Recreation Hall. Remember to come early for seats, because Mr. Dean’s and these afternoon presentations have proven more than popular, with standing room only crowds this past year.
At 1:00 PM U. S. Army Historian, Dr. Robert Bouilly will speak about the famous Buffalo Soldiers, who fought and won against the Villistas, while outnumbered almost four to one. Even more amazingly, these soldiers were given space to bivouac down in Mexico by our own Bill Wallace’s grandfather, at the family ranch near Casas Grandes, Mexico. Dr. Bouilly will also discuss the 24th Infantry Regiment and the role of Boxing in both Columbus and Mexico by these same troops.
At 2:00 PM New Mexico State University Professor Dr. Jon Hunner, will make a presentation entitled, “World War I and the Raid on Columbus.” Dr. Hunner hasn’t given this presentation in Columbus in many, many years, so it should be exceptionally informative.
At 3:00 PM, long time FASF member and NM Historian and Engineer, John L. Double, Jr., will talk about the “First Aero Squadron’s Aerodrome and Aircraft Shops 1916-1917,” which includes a slide show of old photographs of the Aerodrome – and the FAS activities that took place during the Birth of American Air Power.
After their work session, Roy (L) and John (R) relax in front of the Pancho Villa Park Exhibition Hall, in which a full-sized replica of a FAS Jenny hangs from the ceiling. If you haven’t yet seen this FAS display, please do!
Contemporaneously, you will find FASF information tables in the Park during the events, which will be there to sign up new members and inform visitors about the Foundation, its goals and purposes.