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: