Tag Archives: The Pink Store

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.





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.