Tag Archives: Mayor Suzie Azar

It took them 104 years, but the Army finally flew back home !

In February of 1917, the intrepid pioneer pilots of the First Aero Squadron (FAS), stationed at Columbus for 11 months, were ordered back east to be transported to the raging inferno in Europe that became known as WWI.

Since that time, the Army Air Corps, later to be known as the Army Air Forces, fought and won our way through another World War, this time the second global conflict.

Shortly after WWII ended, in 1947, Congress formed the United States Air Force (USAF), an entirely new and independent branch of the U.S. Military, but it did not abandon the Army Aviation Branch.

When the USAF began to grow its ranks, the now much smaller Army Aviation Branch, likewise did not sit still but also began its own regrowth.  Today, it has more pilots, almost entirely ROTARY WING, aviators, than does the USAF, although its inventory of Fixed Wing assets remains quite small.

Not since February 1917, 104 years ago, has the US Army flown into or out of their historic airfield in the small border town of Columbus, NM.

However, last month, on Tuesday, the 14th of December, that all changed, when the 501st General Support Aviation Battalion, stationed at Biggs Army Airfield (adjoining Fort Bliss, in El Paso, Texas), was led into the old Army FAS Airfield at Columbus by its commander, Lt. Colonel Jonathan Guinn.

Colonel Guinn personally flew the number 1 Boeing CH-47 Chinook twin-rotor helicopter into the Airfield, immediately followed by the 2nd Chinook.  Upon landing, the heavy helicopters discharged some 60 young Army Aviators, who then walked from the Airfield into town, to explore their history in the two museums dedicated to the 1916 Punitive Expedition, which as most of you know, became to first instance of sustained combat flying by the fledging new Army flying squadron.

Here, below, you will see that historic event from last December unfold by way of videos of their arrival – – – and of their departure – – – along with many (78) photos of the Airmen and Women who took part in the event.

Click on the below photo’s centered boxed arrow to start the PowerPoint Show of the historic event, but remember, that, except for the opening and closing short videos, the other pictures will change to the next frame at regular intervals of  8 seconds per slide. Again, the entire show has 78 separate photos and two separate videos.

We suggest you use FULL-SCREEN for viewing since the photos are otherwise quite small.

 Should you want to stop the show at any point, simply use your computer’s space bar,  To restart the presentation, then tap the space bar once again.  Remember, the two end piece videos are just under 2:00 minutes each.  The entire show, if not paused, is only 14:16 long.

 

 

 

EAA and FASF’s Bob Dockendorf Inducted into Hall of Fame

   Long time FASF and EAA Member, Bob Dockendorf poses proudly with his new Hall of Fame medal about his neck.

The FASF’s long-standing member from El Paso, Bob Dockendorf,  has just been elected by the Board of Directors of the El Paso Aviation Association and the local Aviation Community to be inducted into the El Paso Aviation Hall of Fame.  This past weekend celebrated this significant event with a special banquet, packed with area aviation celebrities and held at the Dona Ana Country International Jetport‘s famed War Eagles Air Museum (“WEAM”).

Most know Bob as the Executive Director of WEAM, but there is more you may not know:

Not just for his accomplishments as Director of WEAM, where, as its Executive Director, he has taken the historical facility to a new level of admirable excellence, but he was a key founder among the few local area aviators who started the highly successful new EAA chapter 1570 at the Dona Ana County International Jetport.

He also directed the start of the John and Betty MacGuire student Pilot scholarship as part of that same EAA 1570 project. This student contribution provides both an aircraft and flight instruction for young adults up to and including their first solo flight.

Those are but just a few of his aviation contributions to our local communities.  Besides his personal membership in the FASF, Bob’s beloved WEAM is one of our proud Local Business Supporters, too.

Here is a quote from the official Aviation Hall of Fame Award plaque created in Bob’s Honor:

Even in his childhood days, Robert J. (Bob) Dockendorf had a passion for history,
aviation and museums.  Born and educated in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, several job
promotions and opportunities eventually brought him, his wife Mary and their
family to El Paso, Texas.

He served proudly as the Squadron Leader of the Sun Country Squadron of the
Commemorative Air Force as well as an Officer of Chapter 1570 of the Experimental
Aircraft Association.

While completing his career as a property and casualty insurance broker, he served
in a professional advisory capacity to the newly formed War Eagles Air Museum.  When
he retired from his successful insurance career, he was offered the opportunity and
challenge to serve as the War Eagles Air Museum’s Executive Director.

Being armed with aircraft, automobiles, memorabilia, and a deep desire to succeed, he
led the staff and volunteers at War Eagles to the accomplishment of the mission of the
museum, “To Educate and Encourage,” paying specific attention to youth.  All those efforts
helped bring new life and energy to the Dona Ana County International Jetport at Santa
Teresa, New Mexico, adjacent to El Paso, Texas.

The following photographs were taken this past weekend at the ceremony and Banquet held in Bob’s honor, where Bob was inducted into the El Paso Texas Aviation Hall of Fame.

L to R: John Keithly, President of the EAA Chapter 1570 chats with Virg Hemphill, FASF Aviation News Scout and Volunteer Docent at WEAM.  To Virg’s right in background, is FASF member and also Docent, Charlie Overstreet.

L to R: Docent Charlie Overstreet talking with Mario Campos, also a Docent at WEAM. Both are members of the FASF.

L to R: Ammber Valverde, Daedalian Aviation Scholarship winner, engaged in a lively discussion with her table mate, former El Paso, TX Mayor and renown local Aviator, Suzie Azar, who is also one of the FASF’s Advisors Ammber is a Junior at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) and also a member of the New Mexico State University (NMSU) AFROTC.  She plans to be an Air Force Pilot.

L to R: at the Daedalian Society Table is: Virg and Jenine Hemphill, Roger Nichols, Mayre Sue and Charlie Overstreet, and Mario and Judy Campos.  All are active FASF members.

The El Paso CAP Table with two prior Hall of Fame awardees, Roland and Debbie Torres, along with their Cadet Honor Guard: From (R to L), Cadet Captain Hunter Spier in Dress Blue uniform, and C/CMSgt Jonathan Herl, C/Amn Eryal Martinez, C/MSgt Daniel Erives, , and  C/A1C Vida Rote. This is the group of CAP Cadets who conducted the Flag Ceremonies at the opening and closing of the event.

L to R: Virg Hemphill, Honored Hall of Famer, Bob Dockendorf, Roger Nichols, and Jenine Hemphill.

                           Bob Dockendorf after accepting the Hall of Fame Award, speaking to the guests.

View of the tables and attendees at the Banquet.

Guest speaker and aviation enthusiast, “Doppler” Dave Spielman, long time Chief Meteorologist for the ABC Network TV Channel in El Paso, TX, KVIA.

   Ammber Valverde with Daedalian Flight Captain, Roger Nichols.  Roger’s flight is helping mentor Ms. Valverde

 Amber poses with Mr. Dockendorf along with Laura Ditlevson, former winner of the EAA MacGuire Student Pilot Scholarship.

 

Ammber intently listens to former FASF Trustee and present FASF Advisor and Chair of the Dona Ana County International Jetport’s Board of Directors, Col. John Orton.  An ex USAF JAG officer, John continues to fly his own Experimental Aircraft.