Tag Archives: Dr. Roger G. Miller

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:

 

Dr. Bouilly Discovers Rare Photo Of Twin Jenny at Columbus

                                                                             Twin Jenny at Columbus 1916

The above photo was recently located by the now retired and once very active Chief Historian for the U.S. Army’s Sergeant Major’s Academy located at Fort Bliss, in El Paso, Texas, Dr. Robert Bouilly, who has, over the years, kindly provided a number of rare and fascinating historic photos and other information about the First Aero squadron’s experiences at Columbus during the Punitive Expedition.  That Punitive Expedition is something about which Dr. Bouilly likely knows more than any other living professional Historian.

The photo is in the New Mexico Archives in Sante Fe, NM, and is part of the Palace of the governors Photo Archive.  One of the FASF’s own advisors, Dr. Roger Miller, remains the foremost expert on matters pertaining to the First Aero’s operations during that expedition.  His excellent and colorfully written Memorial Booklet to this event, A Preliminary to War, can be found right here, on this website.  Simply click on the preceding link to read the story.

Dr. Bouilly presenting his lecture, yesterday, at Columbus’ Pancho Villa State Park. He explained the little known incident of a number of Chinese Miners, along some who had helped General Pershing in Mexico, both groups of which were placed in a Refugee camp at Columbus, literally rescued by the greateful Pershing.

Here below are some other photos of this very rare twin-engined adaptation of the famous JN-4 Jenny.  Only a few of these unique airplanes were constructed.  They were tested in Columbus by the First Aero Squadron’s pilots, but found to be wanting in performance to such and extent that they were rejected, in terms of having any future with the U. S. Army.

                                        JN-4 Jenny converted into a twin-engined reconnaissance airplane.

These photos will give you a clear idea of what was done to the successful JN-4 in order to make it a twin-engined aircraft.  basically, you will notice that the engine and its cowling in front of the airplane was removed and replaced by another cockpit, one which was designed for either an observer of an aerial machine gunner.  The ship’s power was then derived from the placement on each lower wing, on either side of the fuselage, of the additional two engines.

 Another photo of the Twin Jenny. This conversion shows the old R-2 type of vertical fin at the rear.  It also has a completely different propeller style than does the photo immediately above.  The larger Rudder was installed in order to provide better lateral control in case of an engine failure while in flight.

                                   Another view of the Twin Jenny secured to an engine test platform.

This rare photo is thanks to the aviation Blog writer, Kurt Wheaton, who’s grandfather, Ivan, flew Jennys before and after WWI. Mr. Wheaton inherited hundreds of photos taken by His grandfather.  The ship to the far right above, is the rare Curtiss single-seat “Scout.”  To its rear, (L), between the two Curtiss ships, is the ubiquitous JN-4, itself, and the one behind it is the “Twin Jenny.” Later, during WWII Curtiss built a number “Scout” aircraft, but, while they bore the same name as the rare machiner above, they were totally differnt and modern military aircraft.

The Birth of American Air Power in Columbus: 1916 -1917

Remember to turn up your volume to hear the above video!

The United States Air Force flew Dr. Roger G. Miller to Columbus, New Mexico, to deliver this 58 minute presentation in commemoration of the Birth of American Air Power.  Dr. Miller’s fascinating slide show included many before unseen 95-year-old archival photographs taken in Columbus during the launching of America’s first sustained military aviation operation.

This Army aircraft engagement was part of the legendary “Punitive Expedition” into Mexico sent out of Columbus in retaliation for the nighttime March 9th, 1916 raid on the town by Mexico’s revolutionary General Francisco “Pancho” Villa and his troops.  Before Villa’s three hour attack was over, he had lost almost a quarter of his some 400 men to the fierce American gunfire that ensued from the local Army garrison’s soldiers, but many buildings had been burned to the ground by the invaders and 18 U.S. soldiers and civilians had been slaughtered.

Not only was the retaliatory Army campaign considered the launching of what is now the world’s greatest Air Power, but many give the military engagement credit for instigating what also became the leading civil aviation power in the world.  While the early Columbus aircraft deployment is best known for its military contribution, the subsequent entry of the United States into Europe’s  World War I had a great deal to do with the postwar explosion of civil aviation in the states as well.

Why?  Because the veritable Curtiss “Jenny” biplanes used out of the Columbus airfield were mass-produced by the United States and Canada for several years during WWI in order to train  thousands of young American and Canadian men to be military pilots.  The Great War was soon concluded in 1918, and because the thousands of Jennys were no longer needed, they were quickly sold by the government as surplus at the end of that deadly conflict.

Many young Army and Navy pilots, who were fortunate enough to come home intact from the bloody fields and skies above Europe, had fallen in love with the exciting experience of flying and they enthusiastically purchased the surplus biplanes for as little as $200.  It was these sturdy “Jenny” aircraft that quickly became the backbone of U. S. civil aviation, as they were soon profitably carrying “Airmail” for the Federal Government.  They were also flown all across the states from the Atlantic to the Pacific by the ex-military pilots in what has become known as the American “Barnstorming” era.

It was these same Barnstorming young pilots who gave thousands of Americans their first taste of flying aloft in their noisy open-cockpit machines, which in turn helped incite America’s love affair with powered flight.  It was only a matter of a few more years before some of these young aviators were able to convince the government to subsidize their use of newer and larger aircraft to carry passengers between cities.  Because there weren’t yet enough passengers willing to forgo their trips by the much safer railroads, the new “Airline” entrepreneurs cleverly also bid to carry the U.S. mail on their passenger planes.  It was this federal subsidy to carry the airmail that enabled the fledgling airlines to turn a profit.  Thus began what also soon became the world’s leading civil aviation “power.”

Dr. Miller’s presentation is a colorful and exciting introduction into that great historical military experiment which is considered to be the Birth of American Air Power.  Although the Wright Brother’s are universally given credit for the first successful powered flight in 1903, the United States quickly fell behind the Europeans in aircraft innovation and development.  In fact, while the veritable “Jenny” airplane made a fine flight training aircraft (over 8,000 of them were mass-produced), it proved no match for any of the military airplanes used in the Great War, resulting in the Curtiss Jenny biplane being restricted to non-combat pilot training in the United States and Canada.  When our pilots arrived to battle the Germans in that bloody conflagration, they were compelled to fly either the significantly superior French or British flying machines.

Soon after the end of hostilities on the Continent, however, things quickly changed, with the lessons of the “war to end all wars” taken to heart, American aircraft manufacturers sprung up around the country in a fierce competition to produce better, safer – and faster – airplanes. The U. S. soon leapt ahead of the European nations in its capacity to produce genuinely safe modern airplanes – – – for both civilian and military purposes.  And, with virtually no lapses, the United States has successfully maintained that position of world leadership in both aviation and its evolution into space flight.

This video would not have been possible without the great assistance and hours of effort put in by the following local Columbus FASF members:  John Read, now Pancho Villa State Park Chief Ranger; Allen Rosenberg (a founding member of the FASF!) and Larry Miller, who worked together doing the videography; former FASF Trustee and Secretary of the Board, Bud Canfield and his wife, Jeane, who handled all the catering for the entire event, and Wayne and Debbi Evans, who handled all the vehicle parking duties.  This presentation by Dr. Miller was the first public program staged by the FASF and it was a true sell out. The attendees soon filled the small auditorium and spilled out into the main Exhibit Hall. Last, but not least, of course, was the fascinating presention by our guest, Dr. Roger Miller, USAF Deputy Historian and the USAF, which made his visit possible.

THANKS AGAIN TO:

Roger, John, Allen, Larry, Bud and Jeane, and  Wayne and Debbi!