Tag Archives: Alma Villezcas

It Took 2 Years – But The FASF Has its NM Historical Marker!

Thanks to the untiring efforts of our 1st VP, Jason Adams, the FASF now has its own local NM State Historical Marker firmly planted near our historic 1916 Airfield, which, as Columbus Mayor Bruce D’Salas’ official business card proudly states:  is “The Cradle of American Air Power.”

Let’s take a photographic look at the sequence of actual physical events that took place before the two-year long process of obtaining state approval for the Historic Marker was successfully completed.

The entire lengthy process took place under the jurisdiction of the New Mexico Department of Culltural Affairs. The Department’s web pages describe the process involved: “The markers happen through a strong partnership among the Historic Preservation Division, the Cultural Properties Review Committee, New Mexico Department of Transportation – and the public.” 

All of these agencies and groups must have been queried and counselled in order for such a Historical Marker to be approved, and then finally contructed for the site it represents.  As you might imagine, Jason had a big task in hand to get this objective reallized, and it took no small amount of patience to weather the long process involved in the achievement.  But, today, we now have this marker in place, with its own highway tourist/visitor pull-off parking area so that passing motorists can conveniently pull off state Highway 9, right in the town of Columbus itself, to safely read both sides of the sign’s historical inscription.

Remember: Just click on any photo below to see it in full-size and hi-resolution!

L to R: Miguel Garcia, of Deming, NM, and Baltazar Granados, who actually  hails from Columbus, are with the New Mexico Department of Transportation (DOT), and did the original site survey work for the new FASF Historical Marker.

Miguel and Baltazar pose by their truck before commencing the survey work. The FASF billboard marking the 1916 airfield is behind them to the left.

Here is Baltazar measuring the dimensions for locating the new Marker Sign. Highway 9, in the forefront, has a steep drop-off shoulder closer to the Airfield, so these men had to find the nearest place where the shoulder was relatively flat, so that passing motorists might easily park their vehicles when they go over to read the Marker Sign. These men began this stie work almost exactly one (1) year ago!

Here we see the men from the P&M Sign Company Team working to erect the new sign, which was made by their firm under contract to the state of New Mexico. P&M makes most of these historical marker signs for New Mexico.  They are located in picturesque Mountaiinair, NM.  This work was completed by them this past September

Here are the actual text portions of the two-sided Marker, which clearly point out the historical information regarding the location’s importance.  This sign is heavy-duty and completely weather proof.

The P&M team halfway through to completion. L to R: Larry Archuleta of Las Vegas, NM, Marcos Tavera ,Charles Padilla, and Andrew Lopez, all three from Mountainair, NM

Here is the front side of the sign, with page one of the story facing to the West.

And here, above, is the back side of the Marker, facing East towards El Paso, Texas. You can see by the construction of the Maker that this ediface is both sturdily made – and situated.

L to R: FASF celebrants of the new Sign’s Official Dedication: Columbus Mayor Bruce D’Salas, Airfield Director, Bob Wright; Long-time FASF member and just-retired Manager of the nearby Pancho Villa State Park, John Read; FASF Treasurer, Alma Villezcas; Bill Madden, Airfield Site Chairman; Fritz Wagoner, Airfield Survey & Artifact Team; and Historical Marker Committee Chairman, 1st VP of the FASF, Jason Adams, and his daughter, Chloe.  All four of the FASF members on the right side of the sign are from Las Cruces, NM.  At the left in photo, The Mayor and Bob Wright are from Columbus, and John Read and Alma Villezcas are both from Deming, NM.

FASF Advisor John Orton Joins CAP Composite Squadron 024

The Las Cruces, NM, Civil Air Patrol (CAP) has just welcomed another long-time active FASF member to its ranks.  Colonel (USAF Retired), John Orton, who is the only former Trustee who flew his own airplane to FASF Board Meetings over the years, has just become a Senior member of the same CAP Squadron which already boasts several other FASF enthusiasts.  Two years ago, both the FASF Treasurer, Alma Villezcas, and President, Ric Lambart, were recruited into the same CAP unit by another early FASF member, Colonel Alan Fisher.

REMEMBER: To see any photos in high resolution, simply click on them.

                                 John Orton looks up while working at his laptop’s FEMA training syllabus.

At this past weekend’s monthly CAP SAREX (Search And Rescue Exercise) operation, held at the Las Cruces Municipal Airport, John experienced his first opportunity to take part in one of these regular SAREX programs.  During the afternoon, the Squadron also demostrated how it operates to several AFROTC Cadets from NMSU, one of whom is the youngest active member of the FASF, Cadet Captain, Ammber Valverde.  Each cadet received an introductory flight in one of the CAP’s Cessna 182 Aircraft during their orientation.  These cadets all hope to become pilots in the United States Air Force after they graduate from New Mexico State University.  Ammber has already received a Pilot Training Scholarship from the Daedalian Society.

A Short 3 minute long video clip at the bottom of this page shows part of the briefing of several Cadets by one of the squadron’s pilots, Travis McKenzie.

Here are some more of the photos of John, and of the other FASF-CAP members at work:

L to R: Michelle Phillips, John Orton, Travis McKenzie.

                                                                   Travis McKenzie and Alma Villezcas

                                                                                Walter Dutton at work.

L to R: Jim McConnell, William Benziger, and John Orton

L to R: Michelle Phillips, John Orton, Travis McKenzie, and Larry Burns

L to R: Jim McConnell, William Benziger, and Mike Legendre

Laptop shows one of the large inter-squadron group instructional pages for the SAREX

L to R: Alan Fisher, Cadets Josh Soliz, Daniel Malone, Race Cannedy, and Ammber Valverde alongside Cessna

L to R: Cadet Race Cannedy, Col.Alan Fisher, cadets Daniel Malone and Ammber Valverde get pre-flight briefing

                    Colonel Fisher describes upcoming familiarization flight with Ammber Valverde

L to R: Travis McKenzie explains seat belt arrangement to Cadet Soliz

Cadet Captain Ammber Valverde checks out the Cessna Flight Data Pad

                      Ammber gets instructed on cockpit procedures and instrument pane by Travis McKenzie

Cadets Soliz and Valverde give a ready to go thumbs up, as Pilot Travis McKenzie gets ready to start the Cessna

RAID DAY COMMITTEE MEETS TO PLAN FOR MARCH 9, 2019

L to R: Background are Bill Armendariz – Editor in Chief of the Deming Headlight newspaper, Maria Jimenez of Casas Grandes, Mexico, and Alma Villezcas, FASF Treasurer; in forground are (L to R)  July McClure, FASF Aerodrome Editor and John Read retired Mgr. of Pancho Villa State Park.  Before his retirement last month, John made all the arrangements for the upcoming RAID DAY events at the local New Mexico State Park.

This past Friday, key members of the 2019 Raid Day Planning Committee met at the famous Palomas, Mexico “PINK STORE” (longtime commercial suporter of the FASF!) to discuss the upcoming annual RAID DAY event in Columbus.  The below photos capture most of the participants.

The majority of the group are all long time active members of the FASF.

This year the memorial event, which commemorates the disasterous raid on the town of Columbus, NM, by Mexican Revolutionary General Francisco “Pancho” Villa, a tragedy which took the lives of some 18 innocent Americans, will fall on a Saturday, March 9th.

Some 1500 of the Villistas (as Villa’s troops became known) attacked the sleeping village under cover of darkness that fateful day.  In response to this attack, then US President Wilson ordered US Army General “Black Jack” Pershing to organize the “Punitive Expedition” as a means of capturing or destroying Villa in retaliation for the attack.  It was this Expeditionary force that gave rise to the first US Military deployment in sustained combat circumstances of two new weapons: The Airplane and the Motorized ground vehicle.

Thus, the incident saw the launching of the World’s Greatest Air Power in the small rural community of Columbus, NM.   There will be many events taking place on RAID DAY, from public historical presentations at both Pancho Villa State Park and at the Columbus Library.

FASF President, Ric Lambart, will conduct a slide and video presentation at the Library at 9:30 AM entitled “How Pancho Villa Saved the United States.”  Three historian experts on the Raid will make their presentations starting at 1:00 PM at the Pancho Villa State Park Recreation Hall.

The traditional RAID DAY Cabalgata Binacional, where horsemen (and women) from deep in Mexico ride into Columbus to join with hundreds of American riders, coming down from the North, will begin to enter the Village Plaza at approximately 11:00 AM.

The Columbus Historical Society (CHS), under the leadership of local Historian, Richard Dean (whose grandfather was one of the civilians killed by the Villistas), will also hold its own traditional solemn Memorial Service at the Society’s Depot Museum at 10:00 AM.

The joining of the Mexican and American riders is an annual gesture of the peace and goodwill now in effect between the two nations.  All throughout the town, there will be vendors supplying Mexican and American food.  There will also be entertainment by local musicians, such as the FASF’s own July McClure, along with Mariachi bands, and traditional Mexican folkloric dancers.  There will be much to see at this always well-attended event.

    In background (L to R),, John Read discussing plans with July McClure and Headlight Editor, Bill Armendariz.

L to R above: John Read speaking with (standing) Raul Martinez, Cabalgata Parade Marshall and CEO of the Pancho Villa Development Corporation.  The Pink Store waiter is speakiong to Norma Gomez, RAID DAY and CABALGATA EVENT organizer and Columbus Chamber of Commerce Secretary.  July McClure is enjoying her lunch and Bill Armendariz gets some event information from Norma.

The above photo of the planners was taken by Bill Armendariz.  L to R: Ric Lambart John Read, Raul Martinez, July McClure, Norma Gomez, Alma’s visiting guest from her homw down in Mexico, Sra. Maria Jimenez and Alma Villezcas in the foreground.

MEMBERS PHOTOGRAPHED AT VARIOUS HOLIDAY EVENTS

The following photos were taken at the annual Christmas Luncheon for Daedalian Flight 24 at the El Paso Club,  All members of the Flight are active members of the FASF.  The guest of honor and presenter at the event was Army Aviator, General Laura Yeager (no relation to the famous American Test Pilot, Chuck Yeager!), who briefed the members on her mission at Fort Bliss as Commander of the JOINT TASK FORCE NORTH.  All of the below photos are in high-resolution and can be more fully appreciated by simply clicking on them.

FASF members, Col. Bob Pitt (L) chats with (at center) Aviation Hall of Famer, Bob Dockendorf, at Daedallian holiday event.  AT the podium, at right, in the background is Flight Captain Roger Nichols.

Daedalians and guests prepare for General Yeager’s presentation . . . Her staff is at left: Aide de Camp, Capt. Sperry, and USAF Sergeant Oliver.  The General’s Command is a Joint Command, composed of all the military services.

L to R: Julie and Col. Bob Pitt, Roger Nichols and Bob Dockendorf

L to R at wall: Alma Villezcas, Virg and Jenine Hemphill, Lt. Pfluger, David Ginn, Alan and Melissa Fisher, and forefront, Julie Pitt, District Court Judge Angie Juarez Barilland her husband, Patrick Barill

L to R: Loading up their buffet lunch, Bob Dockendorf, Judy Campos, Alan and Melissa Fisher

Brig. General Laura L Yeager opens her presentation

       General Yeager explains how her Command coordinates with many other Federal Agencies in its mission.

                                                          Col. Bob Pitt and General Yeager

L to R: Outgoing Flight Captain, Roger Nichols, Gen. Yeager, Sgt. Oliver, Capt. Sperry and Col. Pitt

L to R: Gen. Yeager chatting with Cadet Ammber Valverde, the youngest FASF member and UTEP student.

                                              Col. Alan Fisher speaking with Cadet Ammber Valverde

L to R: Ammber Valverde, Gen. Yeager, and Alma Villezcas, FASF Treasurer

The following photos and the video are of the Civil Air Patrol Squadron 24 Christmas party in Las Cruces, NM.

L to R: Michelle Phillips, William Benziger Juanita and Robert Macklin, Alan Fisher, and Walter Dutton, at whose home the event was held.

In front row kneeling or sitting are, L to R:  Alan and Melissa Fisher, Ric Lambart, Walter and Barbara Dutton,  and in the rear: Alma Villezcas, Travis McKenzie, Jim and Luann McConnell, Damien and Carol Blaschka, Robert and Juanita Macklin, William Benziger, Michelle Phillips, and Michael LeGendre. 

FASF’s Villezcas, Takes First CAP Training Flight Successfully

CAP Cessna 182 Slylane (L) opposite USAF Thunderbird F-16 Fighting Falcon.

FASF Treasurer, and native of Casas Grandes, Mexico, America’s first foreign air base (in 1916), Alma Villezcas, took to the sky for her first SAREX (Search And Rescue Exercise) this past weekend out of the Las Cruces, NM Municipal Airport Civil Air Patrol (CAP) facilities.

Ms. Villezcas joined the Las Cruces CAP Squadron 24 a year ago with the intention of learning to fly with the CAP, which is a full-fledged Auxiliary of the United States Air Force (USAF) – (see Air Force photo above with the two USAF Aircraft: A CAP Cessna and F-16 Jet Fighter), which supplies all of the facilities and equipment, including costly modern aircraft, to each Squadron throughout the U.S.  For this reason the CAP uniforms are based upon the USAF’s.

Mission Pilot, Dave Bjorness (L), and Scanner Trainee, Alma Villezcas (R) in the process of conducting their Preflight Inspection of the CAP Cessna Skylane prior to the Mission . . . All photos in this story may be seen in full resolution by simply clicking on them.

The origins of Civil Air Patrol date to 1936, when Gill Robb Wilson, World War I aviator and New Jersey director of aeronautics, returned from Germany convinced of impending war. Wilson envisioned mobilizing America’s civilian aviators for national defense, an idea also shared by other aviation activists.

In Ohio, Milton Knight, a pilot and businessman, organized and incorporated the Civilian Air Reserve (CAR) in 1938. Other military-styled civilian aviation units emerged nationwide and helped train pilots for defense of the homeland.

 In 1941, Wilson launched his perfected program: the Civil Air Defense Services (CADS). That summer, tasked by Fiorello H. LaGuardia (New York mayor and director of the federal Office of Civilian Defense and also a World War I aviator), Wilson, publisher Thomas H. Beck and newspaperman Guy P. Gannett proposed Wilson’s CADS program as a model for organizing the nation’s civilian aviation resources.

Their proposal for a Civil Air Patrol was approved by the Commerce, Navy, and War departments in November, and CAP National Headquarters opened its doors on Dec. 1, 1941, under the direction of national commander Maj. Gen. John F. Curry. Existing CADS, CAR and other flying units soon merged under the CAP banner. Public announcement of CAP and national recruiting commenced on Dec. 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor..

CAP Personnel in military formation in front of one of their Stinson Patrol Aircraft in 1942.

L to R above: Mission PILOT, Dave Bjorness, Mission Commander and Flight OBSERVER, William Benzinger, and Alma Villezcas, Mission SCANNER Trainee, briefing about their tasks and esponsibilities before their Mission.

Above, Ground Team Personnel, Mike Legendre, (L) briefing Communications Officer, Joe Parea, at right. Each mission, whether a practice exercise operation, or a genuine emergency mission, requires numerous ground based personnel working closely with, and in constant radio communication with the CAP aircraft “eyes in the sky.”

Above, Alma readies for the Mission, which will entail scanning for a downed aircraft and taking hi-resolution color photographs of it and the surrounding terrain for ground rescue agencies’ guidance.

Above, Alma checks out her Intercom equipment, as flight crew readies for engine startup.  She has already opened the side window’s Camera Port.  The High Resolution Professional Digital Camera must shoot all photos through this open window so that no window reflections nor glare interfere with the photo’s high quality.

The aircraft has started its engine and begins to taxi out for take off. The CAP Squadron’s main hangar is in the background above.

Alma and her crew returned safely from their successful 2 hour long SAR Mission Exercise, having finally located the simulated downed aircraft and also it’s ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) radio signal.

The following 7 minute video gives a moving glimpse into what Alma experienced during her very first CAP Training flight.

 

Trustees Meet with Army Sergeants Major Academy Staff

The new U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy Historian, Dr. Everett Dague, from Kansas, and the Academy’s NCO Heritage and Education Center’s History Specialist, Leigh E. Smith, and his wife, Gretta, had lunch today at FASF Business Supporter, Ivonne Romero’s (scroll down the page at link to read about Ivonne and her renown establishment) famous Pink Store in Palomas, Mexico.

Their hosts for this visit were FASF Trustees Dr. Kathleen Martin, FASF Treasurer, Alma Villezcas, and Trustee Ric Lambart, all seen in the below photo.  The manager of New Mexico’s esteemed Pancho Villa State Park and Director of its renown Exhibit Hall, John Read, and his wife, Elle, both long time members of the FASF, also took part in welcoming both Dr. Dague, and the Smiths to both Columbus and its sister city, Palomas, Mexico.

Both Dr. Dague and Leigh Smith regularly conduct “Army Staff Rides” from El Paso’s Fort Bliss to Columbus for the purpose of teaching Army combat history to their students from the Army’s Sergeants Major Academy.  Today’s gathering was to help both Mr. Smith and Dr. Dague become better acquainted with Columbus, NM, and some of the people who work with its unique history, which resulted from it being the launching place of the famous response to Pancho Villa’s raid on the town in 1916, and the resulting “Punitive Expedition,” which was launched by order of then President Woodrow Wilson.

The VIP visitors from Fort Bliss gifted the FASF with some special items of historical significance regarding the Army’s Sergeants Major Academy and about the Non-Commissioned Officer’s training – – – and of their significant role in making the history of the Army itself.

      Remember: To see any of the FASF Site’s photographs in High Resolution, simply click on them.

L to R above: Alma Villezcas, John Read, Elle Read, Gretta Smith, Leigh Smith, Dr. Kathleen Martin, Dr. Everett Dague, and Ric Lambart. The above photo is courtesy of the Pink Store!

After the lunch at the Pink Store, John Read demonstated his new video camera equipped drone (see below photos) with which he plans to make new aerial views of the historic FAS 1916-17 Airfield.  He launched his drone from the main East West Runway of the airfield.

Above, John Read, flies his drone aloft with his remote control instrument panel.  The view down the runway is East towards El Paso, TX

The drone’s quiet four rotor blades swiftly lifted the device so high above the runway that we lost sight of it altogether.  Here it is returning by its own internal GPS guidance system.