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717th Military Intelligence Battalion Visits FAS Airfield

The FASF experiences a first!

Every year, more than six large groups of senior level non-commissioned soldier students visit Columbus from Ft. Bliss’ Army Sergeant Majors Academy to study the 1916-17 Punitive Expedition’s battlefields and launching sites.

But this Sunday, something different transpired, when a completely new group of some 60 odd Army troops from San Antonio Texas’ Fort Sam Houston were guided around Columbus – and the FAS Airfield – by a young female Army Lt. Colonel, Brit Erslev, PhD (below) who commands their 717th Military Intelligence Battalion.  Their home base in San Antonio is affectionately called, “ALAMO STATION.

FASF member, John Read (L) explains exhibit layout to Col. Brit Erslev, PhD  (R). Note First Aero Jenny in background.

But why this new interest from a San Antonio, TX branch of the U.S. Army’s Intelligence & Security Command (“INSCOM“), which is itself headquartered in Virginia?

Because its commander is a long time student of U.S. Military History – and Columbus rates high in her list of important U. S. historical military sites.

After all, among other firsts, the attack on Columbus in 1916 triggered the 1st deployment of U. S. military heavier than aircraft in sustained combat, as well as the first use and application of mechanized military vehicles. As all good historians know so well, “If we ignore the failures in our history, we are bound to repeat them . . .”And, those Jenny airplanes, in particular, were also busily gathering intelligence for the Expedition’s Commanding General, “Black Jack” Pershing.

The publicly stated end-goal in the Punitive Expedition was to find and punish the Mexican rebel, Pancho Villa. But, while we failed to accomplish that objective before withdrawing from our Southern neighbor’s territory, as all close students of the First Aero Squadron know, we did learn – and prove – some other vital military lessons, notwithstanding the mission’s over all inability to achieve its main objective.

We discovered the critical need for dependable – and combat ready – military aircraft, which our beloved Jenny was definitely not, at least at the campaign’s outset. But, by the Expedition’s termination on February 7, 1917, only eleven months later, we had debugged and improved the rickety machine into an outstanding and even reliable military trainer.  That Jenny, finally perfected enough to go into mass production (over 8,000!), led to our new ability to train  almost 10,000 new Army and Navy aviators, who, when they went to fly in the skies over Europe, helped turn the tide of WWI towards the Allies’ favor.

Again, back in 1916, the Punitive Expedition was created by then President Woodrow Wilson for the stated purpose of capturing and punishing the infamous Mexican revolutionary, Pancho Villa, for having terrorized the small sleeping village in the early morning hours of March 9 of 1916. That attack had caught the town and its small Army Garrison completely by surprise and led to 18 American deaths, including some innocent local and visiting civilians.

Colonel Erslev had personally attended the FASF’s Presentation this past March 12th, where she had confirmed her understanding of the First Aero’s accomplishments – and of what its mission entailed.

Accordingly, Colonel Erslev gathered her troops into three large cross-country buses this past Sunday and transported them to Columbus for an important history lesson, one that directly relates to their Army Intelligence specialty.

 John Read, elicits chuckle from Colonel Brit when he observes that no one can allege that she’s an underachiever!

Good intelligence gathering often depends on either covert or overt Surveillance and Reconnaissance forays into enemy territory.  And that, of course, was the primary – and at least partially successful mission of the First Aero Squadron, as it deployed out of Columbus and into Mexico a century ago.  Interestingly, more than a century later, that mission is still the main thrust of today’s hi-tech First Aero Squadron, headquartered at Beale Air Force Base just North of Sacramento, CA.

The Intelligence Battalion from Ft. Sam Houston is led by this Army ROTC graduate from the nation’s second oldest (1693) University, William and Mary.  Among many world-wide assignments in her career, Lt. Colonel Erslev also served at the Army’s Military Academy, West Point. She is now poised to once again return to the famous military teaching facility, however this time as part of its full-time academic staff, as a resident Professor.

As a female intelligence specialist and Battalion Commander, she is not a typical Army officer, alone insofar as she has already managed to acquire her Doctorate in U. S. History.  With this level of interest in the nation’s past events, particularly its military history,  it isn’t difficult to understand Colonel Erslev’s fascination with the historic events that unfolded here in Columbus before and during the Punitive Expedition in 1916 and 1917.

Some of Colonel Erslev’s 60 odd  troops begin to gather on the PVSP Exhibit Hall’s Patio in readiness for their next Columbus area tour stop.

As many of you know, one of the first major advantages derived from the country’s fledgling Air Service was the capability to quickly gather and analyze rapidly changing battlefield events, the sort of  Intelligence never before obtained so quickly – – – and all the direct result of the Army’s new “eyes in the sky.”

Colonel Erslev carefully planned her field tour, or “Staff Ride,” as the experience is called in the military, by investigating the Staff Ride routine used by the Army’s Sergeant Major’s Academy at Ft. Bliss, in El Paso, TX, which, as mentioned, regularly visits Columbus to explore its rich military history.

Under the expert guidance of our own local (El Paso, TX) Punitive Expedition Historian, Dr. Robert Bouilly, the Sergeant Majors Academy developed a detailed Staff Ride itinerary for Columbus, one designed for the singular purpose of helping its students understand precisely what transpired here during the Punitive Expedition – and why those developments and experiences are so relevant in today’s modern Army.

John Read recalling a funny incident with one of the Sergeant Majors Academy’s recent Staff Ride visits to Columbus.

The Colonel’s men and women Intelligence Battalion members arrived in Columbus yesterday, dressed in casual civilian attire, so easily blended in with the other civilians about town. They spent over five hours visiting and studying the century old battleground, the town itself, and the old Fort site. They were carefully guided through our local Columbus Historical Society’s Museum and also the Pancho Villa State Park’s Exhibit Hall, where FASF member and Chief Park Ranger, John Read (above), made sure they they were all warmly welcomed.

The FASF would like to formally thank Colonel Erslev for attending our annual presentation last March and for bringing her soldiers this long distance just to visit Columbus and it’s numerous other surrounding historical sites – and for taking some FASF membership application forms with her.  We hope to have her join our ranks – – – and wish her and her Battalion the very best!

Colonel Bob Pitt, FASF, Awards Leadership Trophy at HAFB

Holloman AFB. Saturday, April 6, 2016

Students’ Wives handle Graduation Banquet Registration – Lt. Kendrick Talamantez at Left

Colonel Bob Pitt Describes History of Daedalian Leadership Award and of Flight 24 to Audience-Photo by A1C Alexis Docherty, USAF

                     Colonel Bob Pitt (L) Presents Daedalian Leadership Award to Captain Cole Wagner (R)


Airman 1st Class Alexis Docherty, Photographer, 49th Fighter Group, Captures a Happy Col. Pitt & Captain Wagner

Colonel Bob Pitt (above), USAF Ret., long time FASF member and former F-4 Fighter Pilot in Vietnam, bestowed the coveted Daedalian Flight 24 Leadership Award on Graduating Student, Captain Cole “DAK” Wagner, at Saturday evening’s Holloman Air Force Base’s 314th Fighter Squadron’s latest F-16 “VIPER” graduating class; “16-BBH.”

Flight of F-16s in Formation     Colonel Bob Pitt congratulates another awardee, Major “Snip” Moss, who won the Top Instructor Pilot Trophy.

STILL THE BEST FIGHTER IN THE WORLD?  (Above) – A short action video (2:28) of The “Middle-Aged” F-16 Viper vs. the latest (F-35) high tech fighter in the USAF inventory.  You will quickly understand why some 26 different nations are using this older lightweight jet as their first line fighter.

At Graduation Cocktail Party, Col. Bob Pitt (L) and his wife, Julie, Speak with Colonel Mario Campos, also a Daedalian from El Paso, TX

Lt. Col. Mike Driscoll, 311th Fighter Squadron Commander, poses with Col. Bob Pitt during the event.

Major “Snip” Moss (L) speaks with Daedalian, Colonel Mario Campos (R)

(L to R) Col. Bob Pitt, Ric Lambart, Major Mike Moss, and Col. Mario Campos

314th Fighter Squadron’s Class 16BBH Gathers for Group Photo, Courtesy of 49th Wing’s PAO, A1C Alexis Docherty

Opening Photo for Class 16-BBH Movie:  All 16 Graduating Students of Class atop F-16 Viper Wing


Ford Tri-Engine Plane 6

Tracy Miller takes photos of the Ford Tri-Motor as it taxis this past week at the Santa Teresa International Jetport. Photo Courtesy of Mark Lambie and the El Paso Times Newspaper. Ford Trimotor Captain Steve Lambrick waves from cockpit.

1928 Ford Trimotor Flies Frequently at EAA/WEAM event at Dona Ana Jetport

Some interesting facts about the Ford Trimotors:

This particular ship is powered by three P&W R-985 Wasp Junior engines of approx. 400HP each.  But the planes could and were equipped with many different engines of more or less horsepower.

Different models also had different cockpit and windshield designs – some were streamlined (slanted back) and some actually slanted forward (as does this model in which we rode this weekend), while others were simply vertical windshield panes. Some had engine cowls on their outboard or wing mounted engines, some even on the nose engine, and some even had fenders over their wheels, while some others had streamlined fairings over vertical wheel strut supports.

Some Tri-motors were seaplanes and others were fitted with skis for snow bound operations.

The ship was first designed by William Bushnell Stout to be single engined. But Stout sold out manufacturing rights to his aircraft to Henry and Edsel Ford.  His designs were originally inspired by the all-metal German aircraft designer, Hugo Junkers, and closely resembled the German’s Fokker F-VII Trimotor.

Junkers sued Ford when he tried to sell the planes in Europe – – – and he won, since the Ford too closely resembled the Junkers G-24. While the corrugated aluminum sheeting was very strong compared to the flat sheets coming into use, it was aerodynamically productive of far too much drag.   Ford sued Junkers a second time, and the court in Prague again declared that the Ford Trimotor had impinged on the Junkers’ patents.

Ford’s later AT-5 version had drop-down cargo containers in the bottom part of inner wing sections.  More than a dozen Ford Trimotors were purchased by the Army Air Corps in the early thirties with varied engine models from 200HP to 300HP.  Ford’s pilot, Henry J. Brooks died in a test flight, causing Ford to lose his enthusiasm for aviation investments.

The Douglas DC-2 and 3 quickly outperformed and outclassed the Trimotors.  But Ford lent great credibility to the fledgling American aviation industry, and, while not profiting from his Trimotor production, the brilliant entrepreneur did bring about many important infrastructure innovations such as: paved runways, passenger terminals, hangars, airmail and radio navigation.  By the late 1920’s the Ford Aircraft Division was reportedly the “largest manufacturer of commercial airplanes in the world.”

Before abandoning his aviation enterprise, Ford designed “every man’s” airplane, a single seat commuter plane called the Ford Flivver in 1927.

Meantime, a total of 199 Ford Trimotors were built between 1926 and 1933, including 79 of the 4-AT variant, and 116 of the 5-AT variant, plus some of an experimental variety that were never produced.  One of Latin America’s earliest airlines, Cubana de Aviación, was the first to use the Ford Trimotor in Latin America, starting in 1930, for its domestic services.

Ford Flivver at left

Ford Test Pilot, Harry Brooks, is piloting the Flivver.

Below are the two videos (Part I and II) shot and edited by Ric Lambart on the last day’s ops. The first video is 7:07 minutes long, less the end credits and the second (II) is 14 minutes long.

Below is a video made by long time FASF Member and one of our top Historical Consultants, John Read.  He and his wife, Elli, joined in the fun and excitement over the weekend as you can see. (4:12)

Below is a KRWG Video with FASF Member, Brett Hahn’s, 2015 description (2:54):

Ford Tri-Motor Foundation – Dedicated to Building the Legacy Airliner from Scratch! –  (8:38):


Kermie (Kermit) Weeks’ Hurricane Damaged TriMotor being rebuilt in Michigan – (30:23) (Excellent Views of Plane’s Skeletal Framwork):


Greg Herrick’s 1927 Ford Trimotor – Founder of Golden wings Museum –  (27:46):

MODELS (Variants):



Ford 3-AT

The original Stout prototype; one built. (Destroyed in suspicious fire)

Ford 4-AT

Pre-production prototype, powered by three 200-hp (150-kW) Wright J-4 Whirlwind radial piston engines, accommodation for two pilots and eight passengers; one built.

Ford 4-AT-A

The original production version, similar to the Ford 4-AT prototype; 14 built.

Ford 4-AT-B

Improved version, powered by three 220-hp (165-kW) Wright J-5 Whirlwind radial piston engines, accommodation for two pilots and 12 passengers; 39 built.

Ford 4-AT-C

Similar to the Ford 4-AT-B, equipped with a 400-hp (300-kW) Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial piston engine, fitted in the nose of the aircraft; one built.

Ford 4-AT-D

Three aircraft similar to the Ford 4-AT-B, each with different engines and minor modifications.

Ford 4-AT-E

Similar to the Ford 4-AT-B, powered by three 300-hp (225-kW) Wright J-6-9 Whirlwind nine-cylinder radial piston engines; 24 built.


Ford 4-AT-F

One aircraft similar to the Ford 4-AT-E.

Ford 5-AT-A

Enlarged version, powered by three 420-hp (320-kW) Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial piston engines, accommodation for two pilots and 13 passengers, the wingspan was increased by 3 ft 10 in (1.17 m); three built.

TAT Ford 5-AT-B flown by Lindbergh

Ford 5-AT-B

Similar to the Ford 5-AT-A, powered by 420-hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp C-1 or SC-1 radial piston engines, accommodation for two pilots and 15 passengers; 41 built.

Ford 5-AT-C

Improved version, similar to the Ford 5-AT-A, accommodation for two pilots and 17 passengers; 51 built.

Ford 5-AT-CS

Seaplane version, fitted with Edo floats; one built.

Ford 5-AT-D

Increased-weight version, powered by three 450-hp (340-kW) Pratt & Whitney Wasp SC radial piston engines. The wings were mounted 8 in (20 cm) higher, to increase cabin headroom, but otherwise similar to the Ford 5-AT-C; 20 built.

Ford 5-AT-DS

Seaplane version, fitted with Edo floats; one built.

Ford 5-AT-E

Proposed version, the engines were relocated to the wing leading edges.

Ford 6-AT-A

Similar to the Ford 5-AT-A, powered by three 300-hp Wright J-6-9 radial piston engines; three built.

Ford 6-AT-AS

Seaplane version, fitted with Edo floats; one built.

Ford 7-AT-A

Redesignation of a single Ford 6-AT-A, equipped with a 420-hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial piston engine, fitted in the nose of the aircraft.

Ford 8-AT

One Ford 5-AT-C converted into a single engine freight transport aircraft. Six different engines ranging from 575 hp (429 kW) to 700 hp (520 kW) were installed.[18]

Ford 9-AT

Redesignation of a single Ford 4-AT-B, fitted with three 300-hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial piston engines.

Ford 11-AT

Redesignation of a single Ford 4-AT-E, fitted with three 225-hp Packard DR-980 diesel engines.

Ford 13-A

Redesignation of a single Ford 5-AT-D, fitted with two 300-hp Wright J-6-9 Whirlwind radial piston engines, and a 575-hp (430-kW) Wright Cyclone radial piston engine fitted in the nose of the aircraft.

Ford 14-A

Large three-engined version, powered by three 1000-hp (750-kW) Hispano-Suiza 18 Sbr piston engines (W engines: 3 x 6 cylinders), accommodation for two pilots and 40 passengers.

Ford XB-906

One Ford 5-AT-D was converted into a three-engined bomber aircraft.

United States military designations


One 4-AT-A evaluated by the United States Army Air Corps, redesignated C-3 after evaluation.[19]


One 4-AT-A was redesignated from XC-3 following evaluation[19]


Model 4-AT-E a military transport version, powered by three 235-hp Wright R-790-3 Whirlwind radial piston engines; seven built, all later converted to C-9[19]


One 4-AT-B acquired by the military for evaluation[19]

A C-4A

C-4A replica


Military transport version, based on the Ford 5-AT-D, powered by three 450-hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-11 Wasp piston engines; four built[19]


One C-4A re-engined with three 450-hp R-1340-7 engines.[19]


Redesignation of all seven C-3As fitted with 300-hp (224 Kw) Wright R-975-1 radial piston engines[20]


One Model 4-AT-A for evaluation by the United States Navy[21]


Military transport version for U.S. Marine Corps, based on the Ford 4-AT-E, but with three Wright J6-9 engines; two built, redesignated RR-2 in 1931[21]


Military transport version for the U.S. Navy (one) and U.S. Marine Corps (two), based on the Ford 5-AT-C; three built.[21]

Ford RR-1 at Langley Virginia 1934


Redesignation of the XJR-1 prototype[22]


Redesignation of the JR-2 in 1931[22]


Redesignation of the JR-3 in 1931[22]


Designation for one 5-AT-C[22]


Designation for two 4-AT-D, one each for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines[22]





This legendary Ford Trimotor, the first American built airliner to ever turn a profit for its operators, arrives today  at the War Eagles Air Museum (“WEAM”), Santa Teresa International Jet Port.  It’s being sponsored by WEAM and the locally based Experimental Aircraft Association (“EAA”) Chapter 1570.  Proceeds from the event go to help fund the chapter’s and Museum’s John and Betty MacGuire Youth Aviation Training Scholarship Fund, which finances flight training for young men and women between the ages of 16 and 22.  The MacGuires are the founders of both WEAM and the Jet Port itself. Rides may be booked in advance at the following prices:

Adults $70, Children up to 17 $50; and the walk up or no reservation prices are only five dollars more.  Rides are given today  beginning at 2:00 PM through 5:00 PM or Friday, Saturday and Sundays between 9:00 AM and 5 PM daily.

More information may be obtained by going to FLYTHEFORD.ORG and reservations are made by calling 1-877-952-5395.

Cross This Exiting Adventure Off Your Bucket List Today!

This airplane broke numerous records and set many new benchmarks of innovation in its heyday. It was the first American Designed and built airliner to make a profit for its operators and was an all metal airplane with uniquely corrugated aluminum sheeting over both its monocoque structured cantilever wings (without the usual strut bracing common in the era) as well as over its fuselage.  It had comfortable seats inside the attractively well furnished and commodious interior cabin, where passengers enjoyed the passing panorama below them through large picture-sized windows, unlike the comparatively small windows experienced in today’s modern jet liners.

The weather forecast for this weekend’s aviation experience is for sunny warm and breezy, or otherwise, for pleasant flying conditions.  A number of the EAA Chapter members are also active members of the FASF as is the War Eagles Museum, which, under the leadership of Bob Dockendorf,  has been an active business member since the FASF’s earliest days.

Above is another short (3:32) video of the TriMotor in action.

Below, is a very short (only about a minute 25 seconds in length) video reproduction of an old 1941 Newsreel taken of the TriMotor doing loops, as its famous aerobatic pilot, Harold Johnson, puts it through the sort of maneuvers otherwise the restricted domain of much smaller and specially designed stunt planes.  It was taken in Miami, Florida and was attended by the recently abdicated King of England, the Duke and and his American wife, the Duchess of Windsor, both of whom were special honored guests at the airshow.  We include this short clip just so you can believe the incredible stunts, including a “tail spin,” of which this large (for its day) airliner proved capable.  While the newsreel audio may leave a bit to be desired, the actual movie proved Captain Johnson’s exceptional skill, as well as the strength in the Ford ship’s overall design.


Doolittle Raider B-25 Takes Off from Hornet deck toward Tokyo – 75 years ago today!

Thanks to two active FASF News Scouts and retired aviators, Captain Nancy Aldrich and Air Force and Airline veteran, Virg Hemphill,  we are able to bring you this 75th Anniversary story about the famous Doolittle Raiders, who bravely attacked the Japanese Capital 5 months after the Nipponese had conducted their devastating attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.


Here’s the story about the lone survivor of that raid, Retired Lt. Colonel Dick Cole, written for the AP by Dan Sewell.

CINCINNATI – At age 101, retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole says his memories are vivid of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders mission that helped change the course of World War II.

US Army Air Corps Pilot, Dick Cole 1941

Now the sole survivor of the original 80-member group, Cole recalls the excitement of learning the bombing target they had been secretly training for was Japan itself.

He remembers the eerie quiet as they neared their target, not knowing whether anti-aircraft firepower was ready for them; the precise series of orders, from open bomb bay doors to prepare to bail out, from mission leader Jimmy Doolittle as Cole flew alongside him as his copilot; parachuting into darkness, then being helped by Chinese villagers to stay one ahead of vengeful Japanese troops.

Three of his comrades were executed.

Cole plans to take part in events Monday and Tuesday at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton, Ohio, marking the 75th anniversary of the attack that rallied America and jarred Japan.

It will be “a somber affair,” Cole said in a recent telephone interview with The Associated Press, when he fulfills the long Raider tradition of toasting those who have died in the past year, using goblets engraved with their names. In a private ceremony, he will offer tribute to retired Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, who died last year at age 94 in Missoula, Montana.

Sometimes chuckling, sometimes reflective, Cole sounded clear and military officer-courteous during an AP telephone interview, with his daughter Cindy sometimes repeating the questions if he didn’t fully hear them in his home in Comfort, Texas.

Cole is sorry he won’t have any of his mission comrades with him to share stories and joke with as they did in annual reunions that began after World War II. He didn’t expect to be the last one standing, since he was older than many others on the mission.

“I never thought in that vein,” Cole said. “We all know that somewhere along the line, you have to drop out.”

The Raiders launched their assault April 18, 1942, in B-25 bombers not built to fly off an aircraft carrier at sea. Suspecting they had been detected by Japanese patrols, they left sooner than planned from the USS Hornet, utilizing their mission training in Florida on short-runway takeoffs.

“Everybody thought that the takeoff would be the most challenging thing, but as a matter of fact, it turned out to be easiest thing,” Cole said.

2008 Christmas Family Photo: (L to R) Jim and Cindy Chal, Elliot Chal, Dick Cole, Caila and Nathan Chal.

The crews of the 16 planes were “very quiet” as they neared Japan, he recalled, saying his role next to Doolittle was to “be seen, not heard. … You didn’t speak until spoken to.” But the country song “Wabash Cannonball” started running through his head and he unconsciously began tapping his toe, which caught Doolittle’s attention.

“He gave me a look which didn’t need any conversation,” Cole said with a laugh.

Lt. Colonel Dick Cole today at USAF Awards Ceremony

Doolittle soon ordered bomb bay doors opened, and the attack was on against what turned out to be limited anti-aircraft fire.

“The enemy was doing something else and surprised that we were there, and then I just thought, ‘So far, so good,’” Cole said.

They then headed to China, running out of fuel. Cole said Doolittle gave the command to prepare to bail out as they neared the coast, adding: “I wish you all good luck.”

Official Trailer for 1944 Wartime Movie “30 Seconds Over Tokyo” – 3:05 long

3:39 long section of the popular wartime movie, “30 Seconds Over Tokyo”

Actual Newsreel Released to the American Public at Movie Theaters – – – 9:37

RAID DAY 2017 – Rebirth of U.S. Civil Aviation Celebrated

NOTE: To see photos below in full resolution, simply click on them.  Cabalgata Photo by F Waitl

2017 Event Presenters: (L to R above): Dr. Robert Bouilly; Chief Ranger, John Read; Ric Lambart; and Florian Waitl.  Above photo courtesy of Karen Stewart.

Cabalgata Parade’s Horsemen and Women Pass the CHS* Depot Museum on their way to downtown Columbus, NM

Scene in downtown Columbus as the crowds begin to arrive for the start of the Raid Day festivities

Yesterday, Saturday, the 11th of March 2017 was celebrated in Columbus, NM in memory of the both the tragic raid on the small town back on March 9, 1916, and of the U.S. Military response that caused Columbus to be forever marked as the birthplace of American Air Power.

The town is overwhelmed each year about this time by thousands of visitors  Some come to get better educated about the history of what transpired there over a century ago, and others simply attend in order to enjoy the festive activities planned as part of the celebration by local entrepreneur, Norma Gomez, who is one of the pillars of this small village only 3 miles North of the Mexican Border town of Palomas, the town’s sister city.  Norma organized and leads the town’s Chamber of Commerce. One of the biggest crowd drawing aspects of the occasion is the highly touted international Cabalgata, an exercise in which hundreds of local and distant American horsemen and women come to the village and, correspondingly, hundreds of Mexican Vaqueros and horse-riding enthusiasts come up from deep into our neighbor to the South to join reins in bi-national friendship.

The Community usually celebrates the event on two different days: The first is a special memorial Service held only on the precise day of the actual raid on the town, or on the 9th of each March, but the town also again celebrates the event on the nearest weekend, so that those who are working or still in school are able to also attend in memory of the tragic raid.  The Columbus celebratory event is known at RAID DAY and regularly involves the great Cabalgata as one of the day’s highlights, an event that celebrates the good will between the two nations, something that did not exist to the same degree a century ago.

While townspeople and visitors convene in the Center of the village to take part in the annual celebration of RAID DAY, at the adjacent New Mexico State Park named after the Mexican rebel, Pancho Villa, who led the deadly raid over a century ago, many others assemble to hear selected speakers present various historical aspects and details about the legendary event of 1916.

This year there were three main presenters at the Pancho Villa State Park:

Dr. Robert Bouilly, just Retired U.S.  Army Historian

1st came Dr. Robert Bouilly (at left), recently retired Historian at the El Paso, Texas, Fort Bliss Army Sergeant Majors’ Academy.  Dr. Bouilly provided a pictorial history of the Army Camp at Columbus, later known as Camp Furlong, from 1908 (8 years before the infamous RAID) to 1924, the year in which the Camp was closed, permanently.  Coupled with his colorfully styled delivery, Dr. Bouilly’s numerous archival photographs from the period helped bring the historic military garrison back to life for his audience.  The former Army Historian presented his program in one of the actual Army buildings that still remains intact from the period he described, over a hundred years ago.

Dr. Bouilly has been a frequent source of new historical findings for the FASF and has been one of its most helpful advisors on historical matters relating to the First Aero Squadron’s operations both in Columbus and Mexico.  His personal library on the First Aero Squadron’s place in American and World History is most likely one of the most comprehensive to be found anywhere.

2nd came Ric Lambart, (at right) of the First Aero Squadron Foundation, who presented a Power Point Show that included not only archival photographs, but also videos. These graphics were used to help the audience understand his assertion that, while the launching of the Army’s Jenny Biplanes in response to the Villa raid marked the beginning of American Air Power, it was the result of the Army’s First Aero Squadron’s cumulative endeavor at Columbus, by 1917, that helped post WWI America experience a rebirth of its basically dead civil aviation industry.

While Europe had sped rapidly by American Aviation competency after the Wright Brothers’ historic 1st heavier-than-air flight, in respect to both military and civilian aviation status, not many years after the “War to End All Wars,” America once again managed to move ahead of its European competitors.  Lambart contended that it was what the First Aero Squadron at Columbus had accomplished in perfecting its fabled “Jenny” biplane before it entered the Great War, that essentially laid the fertile groundwork for the post-war civilian aviation boom that regained U.S. industry leadership – a position which the United States has been able to maintain to this day.

3rd (at left) came Florian Waitl, a native of Germany and former U.S. Naval Officer, who resides in Kansas City, Missouri. Florian is a military historian and analyst for the U.S. Army at Ft. Leavenworth, KS.  He regularly supports the Army and, specifically, the Command and General Staff College at the Fort, through the development and conduct of various “Staff Rides” on battlefields around the world. His private company, Human Dimension Leadership Consulting (HDLC), specializes in providing leadership development training not only to military clients but also to the civilian industry such as business leaders and CEO’s.

Mr. Waitl led an interactive and lively discussion with the assembled Pancho Villa State Park guests. His discussion topic was supported by a PowerPoint presentation that took a closer look at the manifold lessons in leadership that arose as the result of Pancho Villa’s Raid on Columbus and the subsequent “Punitive Expedition” into Mexico by General “Black Jack” Pershing a century ago.  He shared a great deal of his extensive knowledge about the many lessons learned on the battlefield in respect to leadership development and organizational improvements.  He also informed the audience about the dynamics and benefits of the field or virtual “staff rides” his company offers. Dr. Bouilly regularly conducted such “staff rides” into and around the Columbus area with his Sergeants Major Academy students from Fort Bliss, TX. The town’s residents and visitors will continue to see these staff rides being conducted around Columbus and the adjacent old Camp Furlong grounds.

L to R: John Read, long time FASF member and historical consultant, also the Chief Ranger for the New Mexico Pancho Villa Park in Columbus, discussing the Saturday presentation with Dr. Robert Bouilly, Retired U.S. Army Historian.

Opening Title Page of FASF Power Point Presentation for March 11th 2017

* CHS = Columbus Historical Society

A pilot’s Joke with a few late arriving photos and video clips

1st, our pilot’s Joke of the day – shared with us by former Air Force and Airline pilot and active FASF member, Virg Hemphill, of El Paso, Texas:*

Polish Moose Hunt

Two Polish hunters got a pilot to fly them into the Canadian wilderness, where they managed to bag two big Bull Moose. As they were loading the plane to return, the pilot said the plane could take only the hunters, their gear and one Moose.

The hunters objected strongly saying, “Last year we shot two, and the pilot let us take them both…and he had exactly the same airplane as yours.”

Reluctantly the pilot, not wanting to be outdone by another bush pilot, gave in and everything was loaded.

However, even under full power, the little plane couldn’t handle the load and went down, crashing in the wooded wilderness.

Somehow, surrounded by the moose, clothing and sleeping bags, Zbyshek and Vladek survived the crash.

After climbing out of the wreckage, Zbyshek asked, “Any idea where we are?”

Vladek replied, “I think we’re pretty close to where we crashed last year.”

* If you have any good aviation related jokes to share, please let us know, and we will happily put it up for everyone to enjoy.  Simply email the jokes to:

And here are those photos and video clips that arrived too late for more timely posting, but we thought you’d like to see them, so here they are:

cropped-best-photo-of-group-022817FASF Members All: (L to R above) Roger Nichols, Ric Lambart, Alma Villezcas, and Virg Hemphill.  This was taken at the Christmas party held by Flight 24 of the Daedalian Society, held each year at the El Paso Club atop the Chase Bank Building.  The Daedalians are a fraternal organization formed right after WWI by military aviators.  It has Flights throughout the U.S. which award scholarships and citations to Junior ROTC units throughout their jurisdictions and they also award leadership trophy’s to top Military Student Pilots engaged in the nation’s training programs.

And here, below, is a short (4 minute 36 second) video taken by FASF supporter and Operations Manager of the War Eagles Air Museum near El Paso, TX, George GuerraGeorge we thank you kindly for this fine video you took on the tarmac and then of your flight aboard the EAA’s “Aluminum Overcast” B-17, WWII Flying Fortress during its recent visit to the Dona Ana County International Jetport in Santa Teresa, NM.  We feel that George’s video is of better quality than our own, which was already posted in our story about the B-17’s visit just a few weeks ago.