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 foreground are (L to R) July McClure, FASF Aerodrome Editor and John Readretired Mgr. of Pancho Villa State Park.Before his retirement last month, Johnmade 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 supporter 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 disastrous 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” Pershingto 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 speaking to Norma Gomez, RAID DAY and CABALGATA EVENT organizer and Columbus Chamber of Commerce Secretary. July McClure is enjoying her lunch and Bill Armendarizgets 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, JulyMcClure, Norma Gomez, Alma’s visiting guest from her home down in Mexico, Sra. Maria Jimenez and Alma Villezcas in the foreground.
Today, only three days to go before retiring as Manager of New Mexico’sPancho 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 Readsfrom their home in Tampa, Florida to New Mexico. WhenJohnarrived 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’smore 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 Rakocycollection (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 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’sretirement 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’snumerous achievements during his tenure as the PVSP manager.
John and Elly Readlisten to Mr. Evaristo’s praise of John’s many accomplishments as Park Manager.
L to R: Evaristo Girontells crowd of some more of John’s achievements as Johnwaves 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’streatise on the strange story behind park’s Pancho Villaname.