Category Archives: INSIGHTS – Our Colorful Members

Stories about our members

FASF Loses an early Organizer and Key Advisor, Bud Canfield

     FASF Advisory Board Member, Bud Canfield

William “Bud” Canfield, gave us his final goodbye this past weekend.  He had retired as the FASF Corporate Secretary and Chairman of its Elections Committee just five years ago.

Bud was born on March 13, 1938, in Connorsville, Wisconsin, and he and Jeane were married for 45 years.

Bud worked as a Dairy Farmer and Tractor and Implement Technical Specialist in Wisconsin, until 1989, when he and his wife, Jeane, moved to Columbus, NM, where he took a position as a State Park Ranger, later retiring, after several promotions, as a State Park Manager.

Long fascinated by aviation, although not a pilot himself, Bud, eagerly answered the call for assistance when the FASF first opened its doors in 2007.  Over his active years, Bud became close friends with a number of aviation enthusiasts and active pilots across the country.

After retiring from  the State Parks, he took over as President of the “Friends of  Pancho Villa State Park,” the local Park’s Docent group. To help assure that his fellow citizens had a library of which they could be rightfully proud, Bud chipped in as a long-time volunteer with the Columbus Library, whose wife, Jeane, was the library’s Director, until retiring in the Summer of 2015.  Both the Canfields simply couldn’t really retire, but continued to be extraordinarily active in their adopted community of Columbus.

As though not deeply enough engaged in his new community, Bud ran for, and was elected as a member of the Columbus Village Council, where he served as a Councilman for a number of years.  His wife, Jeane, was also a Village Trustee.

Additionally, Bud was an early active volunteer with the Columbus Historical Society, which took over the abandoned and run-down relic of the old Columbus Railroad Depot, and then restored it the the pristine condition in which visitors to Columbus now see it and enjoy its many historical artifacts and memorabilia of the infamous Pancho Villa Raid back on March 9, 1916, which event permanently put the small Village on the World Map.  If anything significant has happened in Columbus over the past 30 years, it will be difficult not to find that Bud was right in the center of the action.

He was an enthusiastic collector of, and an historical expert on antique agricultural vehicles and implements, as well. His personal collection of antique agricultural equipment is impressive and could easily prime a new museum dedicated to such early American mechanical farming implements.

Any of the below photos of Bud or Jeanne may be seen in full hi-resolution by clicking on them.

Here they are, as usual, volunteering to raise money for the Deming Animal Shelter at an Antique Car Show in 2015

An accomplished musician, this long-time Trustee was rarely found far from his trusty guitar, either, regularly performing around the SW New Mexico area with various bands, or just soloing various country-styled ballads and country western music, often accompanied by his wife Jeane, with whose voice he loved to harmonize.

Down below, thanks to our Aerodrome Editor and local musician, July McClure, you can hear Bud singing two solo pieces of country music . . . and one with his wife, Jeane,  July and Willy Jones.

Bud played a vital role in helping the FASF produce its first successful special event, when Dr. Roger Miller, USAF Deputy Historian, was especially flown out to Columbus from USAF Headquarters in Washington, DC, to make his highly successful 2010 presentation about the First Aero Squadron’s history making role in the Punitive Expedition.

After retiring from the FASF Board of Trustees, where he had served as an Officer, Bud continued to help the FASF, when he agreed to join the Board of Advisors, where he remained active until only a few years ago, as its Official FASF 1916 Airfield Director.

Here, below are a few shots over the past two years showing Bud and his local involvement in Columbus and FASF Sponsored events:

L to R above: Dev Olliver, FASF Photographer; Jeane and Bud Canfield (FASF Advisor); Retired UAL Capt., author and FASF reporter, Nancy Aldrich, Wayne Le Blanc; Leslie Bronken; Alma Villezcas; Jeff Smith, atty. and FASF Business supporter; and and Adelaide Bennett. This wasMay 2018 at FASF member, Ivonne Romero’s fabled Pink Store in Palomas, Mexico.

Jan 2019: John Read’s Retirement celebration at the Columbus Pancho Villa State Park (PVSP) 1916 Recreation Hall:  All are active FASFers! – – – The PVSP Friends’ Group Officers: July McClure (Treasurer), Elly and John Read, Maria Rangel (Secretary), Todd Montes (President – & US Postmaster for Columbus), Bud and Jeane Canfield, former PVSP Friends’ Group officers and organizers.

  Bud sings “Fox on the Run” with his wife, Jeane, July McClure and Willy Jones.

In these as yet unpublished photos below we see Bud serenading retirees in nearby Deming, New Mexico. https://firstaerosquadron.files.wordpress.com/2020/04/track-13-fox-on-the-run.mp3https://firstaerosquadron.files.wordpress.com/2020/04/solo-05-5-the-fugitive.mp3https://firstaerosquadron.files.wordpress.com/2020/04/track-12-scarlet-ribbons-1.mp3

FASF Members Take Part in New F-16 Viper Pilot Graduation

F-16 Viper Takes Off with its Afterburner

ALL PHOTOS IN THIS POST MAY BE SEEN* IN HI RESOLUTION BY SIMPLY CLICKING ON THEM

This Saturday, five active FASF members were again invited to join the base’s 49th Wing as it graduated the latest group of 11 new USAF Lockheed F-16 “Viper” fighter pilots, all members of the 8th Fighter Squadron’s Class 19-CBF.

Attending the evening’s celebratory dinner were Daedalian Flight 24’s Flight Captain, Colonel Mario Campos, it’s Adjutant, Colonel Bob Pitt,  Ric Lambart, Colonel Miles “Cowboy” Crowell, and AFROTC Cadet Major, Ammber Valverde, Daedalian Scholarship recipient and currently the youngest member of the FASF.  Ammber is a Junior at both the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and New Mexico State University’s (NMSU) AFROTC Detachment 505.

A ‘Blue Team‘ F-16 from the 388th Wing, 421st Fighter Squadron, the “Black Widows“, flies high above the Nevada desert during a training exercise. Taking a break from the action below the clouds, this F-16 from Hill Air Force Base prepares to take on fuel from an awaiting KC-135 Tanker from the Washington State Air National Guard.

11 F-16 Viper student pilots graduated from the 8th Fighter Squadron’s F-16 Basic Course, during a ceremony at Club Holloman, Saturday, December 14th, 2019.

Graduating students, parents, wives, faculty and guest line up to enter the dining room for the graduation dinner.

The F-16 B-Course is a 37-week long course required for all student pilots. On average, B-Course students log 70 hours of flying time over 59 sorties in addition to roughly 245-hours of academic training and 69-hours of flight simulator training.

The dessert table had the class cake appropriately designated.

The 49th Wing is the Air Force’s premiere F-16 and MQ-9 Reaper aircrew training wing. Graduates of the F-16 B-course will be reassigned to operational flying units throughout the world as members of the combat Air Force.

L to R; Public Affairs Office Photographer, Staff Sgt.Christine Groening, listens to Col. Cowboy Crowell describe his tour in Vietnam conflict as Colonel Mario Campos listens. Both men are active FASF members.

Well into its middle age (it was 1st flown 45 years ago in 1974) the “Fighting Falcon” (it’s official original name, which has been almost thoroughly replaced by the more popular and honored name – The “Viper” – one assigned to it by its many pilots over all those years).  As seen immediately below, the Viper remains the chosen exhibition jet for the renown USAF Thunderbirds, which have used its extreme maneuverability in their airshows for 36 straight years.

The above video shows some typical operational F-16 Squadrons carrying out their  missions including some hi-resolution cockpit footage.

Colonel Bob Pitt and AFROTC Major, Ammber Valverde talking about her upcoming career in the USAF and of her intent to also become a fighter pilot. Both are active members of the FASF.

Here are the 11 proud members of the graduating Class19-CBF:

Capt. Justin Goar; 1st Lt. Seth Bolon; 1st Lt. Alexander Drakoulakis; 1st Lt. Austin Gillis: 1st Lt. Michael Kelvin; 1st Lt. Tyler Olson; 1st Lt. Colin Ruane; 1st Lt. Landon Santori; 1st Lt. David Schmitz; 1st Lt. Domenick Stumpo; and 1st Lt. Zachary Tarbox.

PAO Staff Sergeant Christine Groening and Colonel Bob Pitt. 

Originally designed and manufactured by General Dynamics Corporation and then licensed to for production  by Lockheed Martin Corporation, the newest model of the fighter was first put into action just four years ago.  It is the newest variant of  F-16 fighter jet, known as the F-16V “Viper.” The F-16’s cost the USAF about $38 million each – – – and it cost the USAF about $3 million to train each of these F-16 fighter pilots to master this nimble 4th generation fighter.

Lt. Col. Miles “Cowboy” Crowell and Cadet Major Ammber Valverde.

8th Squadron Commander, Lt. Colonel  “Harm” Finch, addresses the audience to help kick of the ceremonies.

PAO Staff Sergeant Christine Groening in action.

L to R: Col. Bob Pitt, LC Miles “Cowboy” Crowell, and Cadet Major Ammber Valverde

8th Tactical Fighter Squadron F-16 Flight Instructor, Capt. Brittany “Blitz” Trimble, who organized the entire event,  addresses the audience.

View of North part of Dining Hall at the Holloman Club, with (L to R) in foreground, Cols. Bob Pitt and Miles Crowell

View to the SW in Holloman Club’s Banquet Hall. In foreground (L to R) are Cols. Mario Campos, Bob Pitt and Miles Crowell.

Event’s Guest Speaker, Brig. General Joseph McFall, Asst. Deputy Commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command, and Asst. Vice Commander, 9th Air Expeditionary Task Force.

Graduating Student, Capt. Justin “Hamboar” Goar, presents the class’ thank-you to Guest Speaker, General McFall.

L to R: Captain Justin “Hamboar” Goar, one of the graduating students,  presents Capt. Brittany Trimble, with a thank-you gift from the Squadron and its students for having masterminded and planned the entire graduation event – a complex program which unfolded without a hitch!

L to R: Captain Goar, of the 19-CBF graduating Class, presents THE BEST INSTRUCTOR AWARD to Major Locke.

FASF member and Daedalian Flight 24 Captain, Col. Mario Campos describes Daedalian History and the Flight’s Leadership Award.

L to R: Cols. Bob Pitt and Miles Crowell along with Cadet Major Ammber Valverde, watch the Daedalian Award presentation by Col. Campos.

Col. Campos congratulates Leadership Award Trophy winner, Lt. Colin “Huds” Ruane, who will be in his new active duty assignment at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea in a few weeks.

Veteran Viet Nam Fighter Pilot, FASF and Daedalian Flight 24 member, Col. “Cowboy” Crowell presents the coveted “River Rat” trophy to Lt. Austin “Weed” Gillis, who will report to his duty station at Ft. Worth Air Reserve Base in Texas after this graduation ceremony.  The “River Rat” award is bestowed upon the student with whom his fellow student fighter pilots would most want to have flying on their wing in combat. The river in the title is the “Red River” and the North Vietnamese Valley through which it flows.  The pilots who flew in that theater during Vietnam were affectionately called the “River Rats.”

The 49th Wing Commander, Colonel Joseph Campo (L) presents the Distinguished Student Graduate Trophy to Lt. Domenick “ROK” Stumpo, who will report to Osan Air Base, South Korea, in January 2020.

Again, Col. Campo (L)  presents the same “Distinguished Graduate” award to its dual winner, Lt. Seth “Faded” Bolon, who will be reporting to Kunsan Air Base in South Korea for his 1st post graduation duty assignment.

FASF members, (L TO R): Cols. Mario Campos, Bob Pitt, and “Cowboy” Crowell and Ammber Valverde, applaud the graduates as they received their diplomas.

L to R: Cols. Mario Campos, and Bob Pitt, Daedalian Awardee, Lt. “Huds” Ruane, Col. Miles Crowell and River Rat Awardee, Lt. “Weed” Gillis, and Ric Lambart.  Photo courtesy of PAO Staff Sergeant, Christine Groening

L to R: Ammber Valverde, Capt. Brittany Trimble and 49th Wing Commander, Col. Joseph Campo

L to R: Ammber Valverde, Capt. Brittany Trimble, Cols. Bob Pitt and Joseph Campo.

           Ammber Valverde (L) discussing USAF flight training program with Capt. Brittany “Blitz” Trimble.

  Ammber is a Junior at UTEP and with the NMSU AFROTC Detachment 505.  She wants also become a fighter pilot.

This was a good opportunity for Ammber to learn what’s ahead for her as she gets prepared for USAF active duty.

                       Ammber and Capt. Trimble continue to cover Ammber’s future prospects.

Colonel Campo and LC Crowell reliving some of their combat experiences.  Col. Crowell, an FASF member and a Flight 24 Daedalian, is now retired from active duty with the USAF, and works at Holloman as a private contractor.

                    Col. Campos (L) talking with a Master Sergeant assigned to the 8th Fighter Squadron.

Captain Brittany “Blitz” Trimble and Cadet Major Ammber Valverde pose by the 8th Tactical Fighter Squadron’s official Emblem.

The Viper is broadly used throughout the world by powers friendly to the United States, and still remains the preferred aircraft for the world famous USAF Demonstration Team, the “Thunderbirds.

The Oct. 16 flight in Fort Worth, Texas, marked the first time the venerable fourth-generation fighter flew with an advanced radar like those found on the fifth-generation fighters F-22 and F-35, according to a press release this week from Lockheed.

The F-16V includes an APG-83 active electronically scanned array scalable agile beam radar made by Northrop Grumman Corp. The company also makes so-called active electronically scanned array radars for the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The new radar steers beams electronically — without moving parts — and redirects them from one location to another, according to the Government Accountability Office. Unlike a passive version, the radar spreads signals over multiple radio frequencies, making them difficult to detect and jam, and allowing the aircraft employing the technology to remain stealthy.

The APG-83 “fire control radar provides 5th Generation air-to-air and air-to-ground radar capability,” Lockheed said in the release. It “will deliver a quantum leap in capability for the venerable F-16.”

The F-16V advanced avionics configuration also includes a new cockpit center pedestal display, a modernized mission computer and a high-capacity Ethernet data bus, according to Lockheed.

Yet the upgrades aren’t slated to hit the U.S. fleet of more than 1,000 F-16s. The Air Force last year canceled a plan to upgrade some 340 of the single-engine fighters with such enhancements due to budget limitations and instead decided to fund other programs, including the F-35.

So Taiwan is set to become the first country to begin flying the F-16V Viper.

Lockheed, the world’s largest defense contractor, faces competition from the British defense giant, BAE Systems Plc, in the international market to upgrade many of the 3,000 F-16s now flying in foreign armed forces.

Of those, roughly 1,000 are more than 15 years old — making them prime candidates for enhancements to avoid obsolescence. While the F-16 won’t ever compete in the skies with newer jets like the F-22 or F-35, upgrading fourth-generation aircraft is far cheaper than buying fifth-generation fighters.

* If you would like to have any of these photos, feel free to download them from the hi-res (larger size view), after you click on it as it appears in the actual post/story.

Long Time FASF Member, Col. Bob Pitt, Shares Vietnam Story

           Colonel Bob Pitt

Colonel, Bob Pitt (Left), of El Paso, TX, a former Daedalian Flight 24 Captain, and a long time FASF member, recounted his harrowing experience being wounded, while flying a USAF 101 ‘Voodoo” fighter  (below) over North Vietnam, to the monthly meeting of the group.

Bob was on a mission with a fellow pilot over North Vietnam, when his jet suddenly took a direct hit to one of its two engines from a Viet Cong 85 mm anti-aircraft battery.  He and his wing man had been flying down “on the deck” – and fast – to help avoid SAM (Surface to Air) missile sites.  But, just as they flew out over a large valley, the Vietcong opened up with small arms and anti-aircraft fire.

Some of the explosion’s shrapnel wounded him in his left shoulder.  Without warning, the future Air Force Colonel’s life was precariously hanging in the balance.  The date was exactly 54 years ago this coming Saturday, the 5th of October. It was 1969 at the height of the Viet Nam conflict.

                F-101 McDonnell Supersonic ‘Voodoo’

His fellow team member,  his Operations Officer, Major Tony Weissgarber, continued on to the target after getting the go-ahead from flight leader, Pitt.  In the meantime, Bob had several quick decisions to make:  Should he eject and bail out of his burning fighter right then and there, or try to limp back to the South to the nearest U.S. Air Base?  Could he even make it that far, since his fuel was leaking rapidly from one of his ruptured tanks?  At least he had managed to extinguish the fire from the bad engine.

He quickly decided to head back to the East in order to get out over the ocean, where he hoped the friendly U.S,. Navy was ubiquitously available to rescue a freshly downed flier – just in case.

                Colonel Mario Campos, Flight 24 Captain, Introduces the Lunch’s presenter, Col. Bob Pitt.

Bob Pitt reads from one of the publications that published the story about his harrowing encounter over North Vietnam in 1969.

If he crashed or had to eject over the jungles below, he’d at best have to register at the “Hanoi Hilton,” where he’d heard . . . “the accommodations were much less than satisfactory,” so the ocean it was.  He called for help from the nearest air tanker, but, since they were restricted from flying over North Vietnam, he didn’t have much hope of getting his much needed fuel from his too rapidly diminishing supply.

Luckily, he took no more hits as he wheeled about and headed out to sea.  Once over the water, he was surprised to see a KC-135 Aerial Refueling Tanker headed his way.

Meantime, he was constantly scanning the horizon for any incoming North Vietnamese Russian Migs, to which he’d be a sitting duck, since his Voodoo was already seriously crippled.

He was simply no longer able to defend himself from any air-to-air attackers.  He maneuvered the damaged jet to a close-up refueling position behind the Tanker, but could not raise he refueling probe to connect to the big Boeing tanker’s fuel boom.  He also discovered that his utility hydraulic system was one of the vital systems destroyed by the anti-aircraft strike.  That hydraulic system was needed to work the Voodoo’s refueling probe – and also other important mechanisms on board.

View of the McDonnell RF-101C cockpit that Pitt was flying on this harrowing mission

He banked towards to nearest Air Base, concerned that he’d wasted some of his vital fuel load maneuvering to get re-fueled by the tanker.  He managed to contact DaNang Air Base, whom he advised of his emergency status.

They cleared the field for him in to come on board.  He noticed his fuel indicator read “empty” as he lined up to land.  Bob came in with extra speed, not sure of how much his normal stall speed had been increased by the damage inflicted on the 101.  He touched down perfectly, deployed his Drogue Chute to help him slow down, but suddenly noticed that he had no steering, since the defunct utility hydraulic system also powered his nose-wheel steering.

A stiff cross-wind condition forced his nose to the left, and he helplessly careened off the runway, across the turf, and headed directly towards a base radar (‘GCA’) shack.  He yelled to the tower to have any personnel vacate his new “target” immediately.  The big crash threw him wildly about and stirred up a huge cloud of dust.  As the dust cleared he looked up to see one of the base firemen looking down at him in his silver helmeted fire suit.  “I’m OK,” reported Bob.  There’s no fuel left to burn!

Two days later, patched up from his wound, and ready to fly, he was quickly airborne on his next mission.  For this harrowing experience, Pitt was awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross), and for his wounds and damaged back (from the crash into the building), the Purple Heart.

Less than a year later, again flying the Voodoo, but this time out of Okinawa island, he lost both his engines shortly after take-off in a giant explosion.  Still low over the Pacific Ocean, he had no choice but to eject.  His chute opened almost simultaneously with his striking the water.  Two lost Voodoo jets, but not their hardy fighter pilot, Bob Pitt.

L to R: Colonels Bob Pitt and Mario Campos take questions after Pitt’s talk.

FASF Member, Lt. Col. Wendy Woodard, Briefs EP Daedalians

Colonel Woodard commands the AFROTC Detachment at New Mexico State University (NMSU) in Las Cruces, NM. This clip is of some of her briefing to the El Paso, TX Daedalian Flight 24 about the role of the Air Force ROTC towards helping build leaders for the U.S. Air Force.  She, as are all of the El Paso Flight Daedalians, is an active member of the FASF.  Two other active members were also Commanders of the same AFROTC Detachment at NMSU: Colonel Alan Fisher, and current Trustee, Colonel Ira Cline.  Col. Fisher is also a member of the El Paso Daedalian Flight 24.  Here is a short (3 Minute) video clip of some of Colonel Woodard’s Presentation:

Here, below, are some photographs taken at last week’s Daedalian event:

[Click on any of below photos to see it in full high resolution]

L to R: Col. Woodard, Roger Springstead and Mary Barnes chat before the meeting convened.

L to R: Virgil Hemphill engaged in “hangar talk” with Col. Woodard.

L to R: Dave Ginn & Larry Spradlin.

L to R: Colonel Bob Pitt describes upcoming Daedalian events while Virgil Hemphill and Col. Woodard listen.

       Colonel Woodard begins her briefing.

The Colonel makes another “thumbs-up” positive point.

L to R:  Waiter, Enrique, Mayre Sue Overstreet, Col. Bob and Julie Pitt, Virg HemphillCol. Woodard –  Col. & Judy Campos, Mary Barnes, Roger Springstead and Col. Alan Fisher.

L to R: Ric Lambart looks on as Colonel Woodard happily accepts her award from Flight Capt. Col. Mario Campos.

Lieutenant Colonel Wendy A. Woodard (L) assumed the duties of Commander, Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) Detachment 505, New Mexico State University (NMSU), in June 2018. Her duties include leading and overseeing all training activities and academic courses for all current cadets. Furthermore, she is the Department Head and Professor of Aerospace Studies for all AS400-level cadets.

Col. Woodard entered the Air Force in 1997 after earning her bachelor’s degrees in History and Humanities from the United States Air Force Academy.

After completing pilot training, Col. Woodard was a B-52H (see photo below) pilot at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.

USAF B-52H Heavy Bomber turns on final approach to land.

KC-10A Tanker (DC 10) refueling F-16

KC-10 “Extender” (DC-10) Air to Air refueling flight of F-16s.

In 2001, she qualified in the KC-10A (above) and performed multiple deployments to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, and Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. During these deployments, she amassed 580 combat flight hours over Afghanistan.

Lt. Colonel Woodard was then assigned to the United States Air Force Academy as a T-10

Gliders help future Air Force leaders soar

A TG-10B glider lifts into the air at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. (USAF photo/David Armer)

sailplane instructor pilot (see above USAF photo). Between 2004 and 2012, she flew over 900 glider sorties, served as the Group Sailplane Site Chief, was a Standardization and Evaluation pilot at the Group level, and was selected to serve as a Deputy Group Air Officer Commanding for Cadet Group Two. In 2008, she transitioned into the Air Force Reserve and earned her master’s degree in Counseling and Leadership at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

Beechcraft T-1A Jet

In 2012, the Colonel was assigned to Air Force Reserve Command Headquarters at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, as the Chief of Protocol for the 3-star Commander, Air Force Reserve Command. She supported high-visibility visits from the Secretary of the Air Force, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. In 2015, she was selected to serve as the Chief of Plans and Programs for a Flying Training Group at Joint Base San Antonio – Randolph, where she was also a T-1A (above) instructor pilot. In 2018, she returned to active duty to assume command of AFROTC Detachment 505.

FASF’s Initial Business Sponsor Has Flown into the Sunset

Long time local civic and business leader, Eddie Diaz, outside his Diaz Farms outlet in Deming, NM.

Our original business supporter and long time personal FASF Member, Eddie Diaz, of Deming, New Mexico, left on his final flight, Friday the 26th of July, this past week.

Eddie was born in Deming, NM, on December 18, 1958.  He graduated from Deming High School before taking over Diaz Farms, which he owned and operated until his untimely death last week.  Eddie was also and active civic leader, and served many terms as the Assistant Secretary-Treasurer on the Board of Directors of the large SW New Mexico and SE Arizona Columbus Electric public Utility.

Mr. Diaz is survived by his wife of  36 years, Guillermina, his son, Eddie, Jr. three daughters; Maggie Diaz-Romero, Cecilia and Cristina, four brothers, Javier (also a FASF Business Member), Armando, Samuel and Carlos; two sisters: Elia Holguin and Rosie Chancellor; two grandsons; Noah and Nickolas Romero; and his parents, Ruben and Antonia Diaz, also of Deming.

Eddie’s memorial service at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Deming was attended by several thousand friends and admirers, whose vehicles lined the streets in all directions, with standing room only in the church, which left many unable to even get inside to attend the service.

This extraordinarily large following bore testimony to his remarkable personality. Your webmaster had the honor and privilege of knowing Eddie for some 20 years and cannot remember a time when he didn’t see Eddie smiling and spreading his uplifting enthusiasm to one and all who knew or simply had the pleasure of meeting him.

It is genuinely difficult to even imagine that this vital and loving character has moved on, that he is no longer among us, except insofar as his energetic and upbeat spirit will never leave those who were blessed enough to have known him.

Eddie had a deep personal interest in his local environs and his roots in the rich history of the area, so he quickly took the first opportunity he found to help the FASF become better-established as an exponent of the exciting history it was organized to help perpetuate.  The minute he obtained his FASF Decal, he quickly and proudly had it mounted on his business’s front entry door where it remains to this day.

Col. Alan Fisher Recalls His USAF Career for Daedalian Flight

Colonel Alan Fisher speaking before the El Paso Daedalian Flight 24 about his life experiences.  Two other long time FASF members are to his right and left above – Charlie Overstreet, at far left, and Colonel Bob Pitt at the far right.

Long time FASF member, also a Daedalian, as well as a senior officer with the Civil Air Patrol’s (CAP’s) Las Cruces, NM Squadron, Alan Fisher addressed the local Daedalian Flight’s monthly meeting at the El Paso Club in downtown El Paso, Texas, (see photo above) this past week.

Colonel Fisher shared both his military experiences as well as retirement careers in civilian life with his fellow Daedalians. He also conveyed the manifold benefits of pursuing a career in one of the U.S. Military branches.

Alan, who spent 24 years on active duty with the USAF, is a honors graduate of the Air Force Academy, and served as a pilot throughout most of his career, taking part in several war theaters, primarily in the Mideast.  While still on active duty, this Air Force leader managed to gain a Master’s degree in Biology, which he was able to use while serving an assignment as an assistant professor at his old Alma Mater, the Air Force Academy.  Today, the Colonel is retired and lives in Las Cruces, NM with his wife, Melissa, who is also an Air Force Reserve Lt. Colonel, herself.  The Colonels has two children and two grandchildren.

When not flying CAP missions, Alan keeps busy running his family pecan growing business or teaching Science to local Las Cruces High School students.  Immediately before retiring from active duty with the USAF, the Colonel was the commander of the USAF ROTC unit at nearby New Mexico State University (NMSU) in Las Cruces.  In an astounding turn of events, before his retirement, he actually awarded second Lieutenant’s bars to our long sitting Trustee and Vice President, Colonel Ira Cline, who himself recently retired as commander of the same NMSU ROTC unit.

Below is the Colonel’s retirement photo from the United States Air Force.

Official USAF Portrait of Lieutenant Colonel Alan Fisher.

 

FASF Members Try Out New FASF T-Shirt Designs

FASF Trustee, Bill Wallace III, of Columbus and Casas Grandes, Mexico, and FASF member, Maria Rangel, of Deming, NM, show off our new T-Shirt designs at the Pancho Villa State Park Exhibition Hall in front of the First Aero Squadron Jenny display. Just click on any photo on our website to see the full-sized version.

FASF Trustee, Bill Wallace III, of Columbus and Casas Grandes, Mexico, and FASF member, Maria Rangel, of Deming, NM, show off our new T-Shirt designs at the Pancho Villa State Park Exhibition Hall in front of the First Aero Squadron Jenny display.  

FASF Trustee, Bill Wallace III and FASF member, Maria Rangel of Deming, NM, try out our new T-Shirt designs at the Pancho Villa State Park Exhibit Hall.  While Bill’s shirt was the right size, we were out of the correct size for Maria, so we made do with one a bit too large, but at least the photos show the new T-Shirt design well enough.  We’re already running low so have just re-ordered more of the shirts and with small sizes for women.

You can purchase the shirts by sending a check to the FASF at PO Box 1916; Columbus, NM 88029

Please state your desired size (S, M, L, XL, etc.) and color (choices are presently Blue or White). 

We are selling the new shirts for only $20 each, plus Shipping and Handling of $5 for a total cost of $25

ACTIVE FASF MEMBERS GET AN AUTOMATIC 10% DISCOUNT ON THE T-SHIRTS!*

Please send us your telephone number along with your check in case we have any questions about your order.  Order now in time for the Christmas Holidays!

Bill and Maria discussing the Jenny display and showing off the back of their shirt’s Jenny depiction.

Bill and Maria discussing the Jenny display and showing off the back of their shirt’s artistic Jenny depiction.

* FASF Members pay only $18 per T-Shirt plus $5 for Shipping and Handling.  [There is no sales tax charged, because the FASF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit institution.]

Photo Credits

Top photo was taken by your Aerodrome Staff and bottom taken by FASF member, John Read.

FASF’s Colorful Members – Gracie Carreon, Entrepreneur

INTRODUCTION TO OUR NEW COLUMN

From time to time, your FASF website will be pausing to look into the fascinating lives of some of our members, new ones as well as old timers. It would be hard to believe that we couldn’t find interesting material from the lives of any of our many members, but when we run into a member whose story we think needs telling, then we’re going to take pen in hand – and get busy.

In fact, look for a new category to include these interesting member stories. The new blog column will be entitled, “INSIGHTS” – Our Colorful Members. It will appear under the right sidebar menu “MORE TO SEE” and will be right below the news category “NEW VIDEOS.”

One place you, as either a non-member site visitor – or FASF member – can help out in this endeavor, is to let us know who we should feature next – even if, providing you’re an active member, it’s yourself!

Our first “INSIGHT” will be a peek into one of our newest business supporters and her remarkable success story, a young entrepreneur from immediately under our local nose, right here in this small SW New Mexican village of Columbus, the “Cradle of American Air Power.

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                           Gracie Carreon, sits at her front counter at “E & G Wireless” in Columbus, NM

This young lady has created a small town female version of the fabled American Horatio Alger success story. Her achievements caught our attention for a simple reason; we were told by some locally experienced and expert professionals in the field, when she first opened her new wireless business, that it wouldn’t be long before she failed – – – and would have to close her doors.

Well, not only were those expert predictions dead wrong, they missed the mark by a substantial margin.

Gracie Carreon was born in nearby Deming, NM, where she completed her formal schooling. After getting married, she and her new husband, Eloy, went to Arizona, where they felt career opportunities would be better than if they remained in Deming. Their move was productive. For fourteen years the young couple did well in their new state. Then the 2008 recession struck – hard. Because of low seniority, corporate downsizing cost Gracie’s husband his job in Phoenix. So, not quickly enough finding another one, they decided to tighten their belts and return to New Mexico’s lower cost-of-living climate – – – and to be nearer their families.

Soon, after the move to Columbus, Gracie started working from home as a telemarketer, helping sell vacation cruise packages, mostly by phone. When she was told that it would help her get ahead in the travel business if she learned Portuguese, she got busy and quickly learned the new language. Unfortunately, the expected promotion didn’t materialize rapidly enough, so Gracie started doing research on the Internet to explore other business opportunities for self-employment. Even though she had no experience in the new booming cell phone business, her research led her to believe that it might be a profitable enterprise to start up in Columbus.

However, Columbus is not an affluent village. But it was this same low average income element that attracted her attention. The unfortunate impoverishment in the local area was precisely why Gracie felt there should be a pressing need for a more economical wireless service. Most importantly, her many months of study and research gave her enough confidence to put the ball in motion. She was now sure she could put the new enterprise together; convinced she could provide superior personal service – at a highly competitive price. She was confident that her Columbus neighbors and even citizens from nearby Palomas, Mexico, would grab the opportunity to significantly cut their cell phone bills.

In her words, “We planned to be – Big Enough To Serve, Small Enough To Care.” And that’s the very slogan that quickly became her fledgling company’s guiding motivation.

Gracie’s friends and family thought she was about to make an unwise decision, citing, among other things, that few new businesses ever managed to succeed in the small impoverished community. And, even worse, some of the nearby local experts in the closest large town, Deming, 30 miles to the North, joined with her friends and family, pointing out that there simply wouldn’t be enough customers to enable Gracie’s idea to even break even, let alone thrive. Yet, in spite of all the negative feedback and dire predictions of almost guaranteed failure, Gracie went on ahead and laid out the business plan she expected would prove them all wrong. After all, her Internet studies and research, and the calculations she made with the data she garnered, indicated the investment would soon prove a profitable one. Amazingly, Gracie was in such dire financial shape at this juncture, that she couldn’t even afford her own cell phone!

Did that deter this young mother?

Not for a second.

So, three years ago, in 2012, Gracie began her start-up enterprise. She arose each day and, on foot, plodded through the dusty neighborhoods of Columbus, knocking on doors to offer the local citizens more economical wireless phone packages – plans they didn’t even know existed.

Having had no experience in this new business, Gracie had to learn the hardware and software technology she needed to understand – and all via the same Internet on which she’d taught herself Portuguese. Soon her sales were growing and it became obvious that this walking the streets routine would no longer suffice. Accordingly, our budding young entrepreneur again used the Internet, Craig’s List in particular, and searched for an affordable new portable building. She found a good deal on a used construction trailer, borrowed enough funds for the unit, then she and her teen son, Eloy, Jr., had it transported to Columbus, where they had contracted to buy a lot alongside the main highway. This was the parcel on which she had the mobile unit unloaded and set up.

Now working furiously at two separate tasks; selling cell phone deals and remodeling the old trailer, she managed to spend almost what the new building had cost, just to get it remodeled to her requirements. Many who knew her wondered how she even found enough time each day to do all this complex multi-tasking, but this tough challenge clearly didn’t phase Gracie, nor dimish her hardy ambition. It took a nine month gestation period to get the trailer converted into a good looking sales room and office. When the intensive remodeling project was finished, many (who didn’t know Gracie) were surprised at how effectively and professionally Gracie had accomplished the aesthetically attractive transformation.

Today, three years later, Gracie’s “E & G Wireless” (named by using her husband and son’s initial, “E” and her own “G”) is thriving – well beyond even Gracie’s own ambitious expectations.

Gracie also saw the potential benefit to Columbus from the First Aero Squadron Foundation’s activities, too, so she stepped right up to become an enthusiastic new business supporter of the FASF.

It’s hard to miss “E & G Wireless” when driving either into or out of Columbus. Your attention is quickly drawn to the many cars and trucks parked outside the facility whenever it’s open. In fact, it has been observed that “E & G Wireless” has become a popular new Columbus social gathering center!

When you have the time, stop by and meet this young entrepreneur or her personable assistant, Mely Gonzales. Let them show you how they can provide you with a high quality, yet very competitively priced new cell phone plan. She’s become an expert at significantly cutting her customer’s cell phone costs, no doubt a prime reason for her astounding success.

See more photos of Gracie’s company by clicking right here and then scroll down the page. You’ll find her operation listed on the “LOCAL BUSINESS SUPPORTERS” Page – under “E,” in alphabetical order.