Tag Archives: Birthplace of American Air Power

First Aero’s John Read Retires from NM State Parks Dept.

Today, only three days to go before retiring as Manager of New Mexico’s Pancho Villa State Park (PVSP) in Columbus, one of the FASF’s earliest and most active members and enthusiastic supporters, John Read (at left), was honored at a surprise celebration, held at his beloved Park in Columbus, the very spot which once housed U.S. Army troops under General John J. “Blackjack” Pershing, during the famous Punitive Expedition of 1916 and 1917.  High resolution still photographs and video follow story down below . . .

Camp Furlong 1916-17 Recreation Hall

 

Today’s celebratory event was actually held in the very same “Recreation Hall” (at right) in which U.S. Army infantry, cavalry, and Signal Corps Aviation troops held their various recreational activities over a century ago.  The Army Fort and Garrison at Columbus became known as “Camp Furlong.”

 

Since arriving in Columbus, Mr. Read has maintained a continuous presence in all FASF activities, often helping the Foundation put on various presentations for the general public, and acting as one of its principle historical consultants.

General “Black Jack” Pershing

He supported and even hosted the very first public event put on by the FASF, when the United States Air Force (USAF) flew its then Deputy Historian, Dr. Roger Miller, out to Columbus to put on the group’s very first public History sell-out extravaganza.

It was New Mexico’s interesting employment opportunities and the excitement of the Southwest that initially drew the Reads from their home in Tampa, Florida to New Mexico. When John arrived at Columbus, in 2008, his first task was to become the Park’s new Heritage Educator.  Prior to his arrival in Columbus, John first worked as a Park Ranger at the Roswell NM State park. 

Although Read’s major during college was in the Sciences, and notwithstanding his years of teaching science in Florida, he nevertheless became a dedicated student of history, in particular the history of those events which surrounded Columbus during those years just prior to our entry into the “War to End All Wars,” better known today as WWI, in Europe.

Aside from his heavy workload at managing the New Mexico PVSP operation, John has still continued his love of Science, foraging into advanced theoretical physics concepts, such as Quantum Mechanics and String Theory, and he has also become in income producing YouTube presenter of New Mexico High Desert Exploration and Aventure Videos.

It was during that Punitive Expedition that the United States first engaged its fledgling, and as yet unproven Army First Aero Squadron, in sustained combat.  And, of course, it was this very history-making development in Columbus, over a century ago, that led to the small Mexican border town’s becoming the “Birthplace of American Air Power,” and the Rebirth Site of American Civil aviation, as well.

However, it was not just this history that captured Mr. Read’s interest, but the entire series of related historic events that arose out the Columbus engagement in that historic Punitive Expedition.

Let’s take a quick glance of some of John’s more notable contributions, which so greatly enhanced the PVSP’s status as a historical site and local landmark for visitors and history buffs:

  • He created 1st website for the Pancho Villa State Park Friends (Volunteer Docent) group
  • Expanded and helped re-organize for more effectiveness, the PVSP Friend’s Group
  • Obtained large donation of new historic Expedition Artifacts for display in the exhibit Hall
  • Got donations of numerous original 13th Cavalry Army Uniforms from the Expedition
  • Acquired large collection of impressively mounted new Photo Plaques re the Raid
  • Promoted + sold many FASF souvenirs to park visitors, to help PVSP Friends’ funding
  • Created and marketed numerous other Expedition and “Raid” gifts for tourists
  • Got for display a valuable US 48 star Flag used by the expedition in Mexico in 1917-17
  • Acquired from Pancho’s grandson (Mex. Atty) for display, aluminum death mask of Villa
  • Put on display an actual artillery shell found in Mexico from the Expedition’s action there
  • Got donation of  Bill Rakocy collection (SW Historian/Artist & Writer) exhibit for display
  • Sold numerous new donors to make exhibit donations to the Park for its prized collection
  • Coordinated historical education “Staff Rides” (Field Trips) for USA Sgt. Majors Academy
  • Regularly coordinated USA Sergeant Majors Academy “Staff Rides” (Field Trips) thru PVSP
  • Did research: why PVSP was named after the Mexican Revolutionary who raided the US*
  • Greatly expanded the Park’s fostering and promoting of large Antique Car Show each year
  • Managed and orchestrated huge “Raid Centenniall” extravaganza in 2016, which featured:
    • A large group of 13th Cavalry Reenactors from all across the United States
    • Had Actress/Singer Helen Patton, Gen. Patton’s granddaughter perform for FASF
    • Had Congressman/FASF member, Steve Pearce  present US Capitol Flag to the FASF
    • Arranged Special FASF Presentation to the overflow crowd of Centennial visitors
    • Otherwise coordinated hundreds of enactors and others for successful Centennia

Here, for your enjoyment, are some of today’s photos . . . click to see full high-resolution view

Some of guests line up to get their event lunch

Guests begin to assemble in the Camp Furlong Recreation Hall to hear John’s retirement ceremony

L to R in foreground: Park volunteers, Dave and Marlene Ferguson, Josephine Gosiak, Shirley and Steve Schou, and with their backs to cameral, PVSP Friends’ VIPs, Jeane and Bud Canfield

L to R facing camera and standing: FASF Aerodrome Editor, July McClure, John Read, and seated, Maria Rangel, FASF member, Ted Williams (turned toward John and a park volunteer) and Bud Canfield, long time FASF Advisor.

L to R: July McClure, John Read, Maria Rangel, Ted Williams, Bud and Jeane Canfield.

L to R above: Guest of honor, John Read and his wife, Elly Read.

New Mexico State Park employees and staff, along with guests, listen to event MC and Park Regional Manager, Evaristo Giron, as he descried John Read’s numerous achievements during his tenure as the PVSP manager.

               John and Elly Read listen to Mr. Evaristo’s praise of John’s many accomplishments as Park Manager.

L to R: Evaristo Giron tells crowd of some more of John’s achievements as John waves one of his thank you cards with its many grateful anc congratulatory signatures.

 FASF ALL! – – – and also 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, early PVSP Friends’ Group officers and organizers.

Guest of honor, John Read, with his principal long-time support staff Park Rangers:, L to R: Junior Martinez and Martin Nunez.

               John  Read with long-time friend and one of FASF organizers and its Webmaster, Ric Lambart

A happy new retiree and his bride about to savor their hard earned new life without so much daily responsibilities.

                      John Read’s New Mexico State Park’s Recognition for Outstanding Service Commemorative Plaque.

  • CLICK HERE to see John Read’s treatise on the strange story behind park’s Pancho Villa name.

The below video of event is 15:55 in length:

 

NEW MEXICO DECREES FAS AIRFIELD A STATE HISTORIC SITE

Accordingly, the state directed its Department of Transportation (DOT) to immediately survey the most appropriate location for a new Historical Marker Sign, designed to mark the Airfield and describe its unique place in New Mexico and National history.

Today marked the first time the DOT Engineers visited the Airfield and the area on which the new Historical Sign could most advantageously be erected, once it is designed and fabricated for installation.  Below are the two DOT Engineers who completed the site location task and marked the site for the new sign.  Click on any photo to see it full-size and resolution.

When the sign is completed and the installation occurs, we will announce the event in advance, so anyone interested might join the ceremony and the following luncheon celebration at the acclaimed Pink Store, a long time business supporter and member of the FASF, in nearby Palomas,Mexico.

Stay tuned!

Congratulations to FASF 1st Vice President, Jason Adams, who has spent the past two years shepherding the Historic Recognition Project through the state agencies and commissions to a successful completion.

Above are the DOT Engineers at the FAS Airfield. L to R are Miguel Garcia and Baltazar “Bronco” Granados

Above, L to R, again, at the NW corner of the historic Airfield are Engineers Miguel Garcia and “Bronco” Granados.

With the site selected on which to erect the new historical marker sign, engineer Granados marks the location with white paint in readiness for the installation crew.  In the background, to the left above, you can see the old CAA Power Shed building that was once on the Airfield to power its Radio Navigation Antenna Tower and also its Flashing Light Airways marker beacon.  The CAA used the 1916 Airfield as one of the “intermediate” emergency airfields for the first Transcontinental Postal Airways System.  The first airplanes used to carry the U.S. mail were none other than the indomitable Curtiss Jennies, the same planes developed, tested and proven right on the nearby 1916 FAS Airfield.

Colonel Jimmy Lee Speaks to Daedalian Flight 24 in El Paso

Lt. Colonel James K. “Jimmy” Lee, Jr., Professor of Military Science and Commander of the University of Texas (UTEP) Army ROTC’s “Fighting Miner Battalion” in El Paso, Texas, gave a special Power Point and Video presentation  to the Daedalian Flight 24 at the El Paso Club in downtown El Paso, yesterday.  Almost every member of Daedalian Flight 24 is also an active member of the FASF. 

Colonel Lee gave an animated description of the current University ROTC program which he directs at UTEP.  Jimmy, an Army Mustang and recipient of the coveted SILVER STAR medal for heroism in battle, has been one the FASF’s Trustees for the past three years.  His background is here on the FASF Trustee Page of this site.

Each semester at UTEP, Colonel Lee’s Battalian of Cadets conducts a “Staff Ride” over to visit and study the Army’s history, including that of the First Aero Squadron’s involvement in the “Punitive Expedition” back in 1916 and 1917, at Columbus, NM, the birthplace of American Air Power and rebirth place of American Civil Aviation.

              Remember to click on any of the following photos to see them in high definition.

                                                    Colonel Lee opening his Power Point Presentation.

L to R: All taking in Jimmy’s talk, are: Mario Campos, Charlie Overstreet, Lt. Commander Cindy Sweeney, Roger Springstead, Norm Rice and Virg Hemphill.

            Jimmy describes the many and diverse opportunies for scholarships provided by the ROTC programs.

The Colonel shows some of examples of both Air and watercraft used by the U.S. Army in today’s combat.

Slide Jimmy presented showing the surprising use of both aircraft and boats by today’s Army as related to those assets used by the other services.

         Jimmy fielding questions from the Daedalians about the previous Army Comparative Equipment Chart.

In answer to a question from Daedalian Colonel PittJimmy explained the battelfield circumstances that led to the award of his Silver Star medal in Iraq.

L to R: Listening to Jimmy’s presentation are: Larry Spradlin, Pete Brandon, and Alan Fisher.

                                                      Jimmy fielding more questions from the Daedalians.

Retired USAF Colonel Alan Fisher, who once commanded the AFROTC unit at New Mexico State University, comparing notes after the presentation with Colonel Lee. Daedalian Fight Captain, Roger Nichols a retired USAF Navigator and Pilot is behind the podium between the two experienced ROTC commanders.

L to R: Posing after the event are: Colonel Bob Pitt, Simon Hernandez (Assistant to Colonel Lee, and the UTEP ROTC Recruiting and Scholarship Chief), Jimmy Lee, Roger Nichols and Ric Lambart.  Group photo courtesy of Daedalian and 1st Aero member, Roger Springstead. All above but Mr. Hernandez are active FASF members.