Pancho Villa’s Columbus Raid Centennial, March 9 – 12, 2016

March 9, 2016 – Wednesday – Columbus, New Mexico
100th  Anniversary of the Pancho Villa Raid
200 some Columbus Raid descendants and friends in attendance

Columbus Raid 100th

Colonel Ken Nava, of the New Mexico National Guard, escorts Helen Ayers Patton to the reviewing stand.  Helen is the granddaughter of the great WWII general, George S. Patton, Jr.





US Border Patrol Color Guard Team


On the original Pershing reviewing stand waiting to speak at the ceremony:


Helen Patton and CAPT David Poe representing the Pershing Rifles and the Pershing family.






“The caskets were loaded on the train — one — by — one.”  Richard Dean lamented in a slow measured tone. Richard is a native of Columbus and an authority on Pancho Villa’s pre-dawn raid on the slumbering little town.  He was the first speaker and took the audience, of some two hundred, through the attack and detailed the killing of each of the ten town’s residents.  He took us back to that morning of one hundred years ago and we could all deeply feel the town’s anguish.  There also was a heavy sense that after all these years the wounds had not completed healed.


Mr Dean then introduced the next speaker and honored guest, Helen Patton.  Helen lives in Reims, France and traveled to Columbus for this commemoration.  Villa’s raid initiated the US Army’s response with the Punitive Expedition, commanded by General John J. Pershing. Helen’s grandfather, George S. Patton, Jr. had been General Pershing’s Aide.   She brought life and spirit to the podium when she recited or rather preformed the poem (Marching in Mexico) written by her grandfather while in Mexico. Helen recited the poem with such energy and spirit – history came alive!  Marching In Mexico




CAPT David Poe delivering the message from Mrs. Pershing and the Pershing Family with pride and conviction.  Mrs. Pershing’s eloquent words transcended time.  SPershing Columbus Remarks 02292016





Columbus Raid 100th

The next speaker was General Andrew Salas, Adjutant General of New Mexico.  With great passion he told the story of how eighteen year old Susan Parks risked her life, during the attack, to get to the switchboard and call the New Mexico National Guard for help.  The Guard was stationed in Deming, New Mexico thirty miles to the north.  The Guard came running and arrived in Columbus several hours later and restored order.



After the Ceremony, General Salas met with four generations of the Susan Parks family.





Helen Patton, Capt. David Poe, and Jody Polk Shwartz.  Jody’s grandfather, Harding Polk was George S. Patton, Jr’s roommate at the Virginia Military Academy.  They then transferred to West Point together.  Also, Jody’s father, James Polk, was a WWII officer in George Patton’s 3rd Army.



March 12, 2016 – Saturday Columbus, New Mexico
Pancho Villa Raid – Centennial Events

The Grand Parade through Columbus.  

Helen Patton in a 1916 Dodge Touring Car, which was the exact model used on the Punitive Expedition.

IMG_0680The doughboy re-enactors



Following Helen Patton in the old Dodge, were 100 some Mexican horseback riders.  That morning the riders crossed the boarder and entered Columbus.  To the left (on horse back) is Pancho himself.  There were some 100 riders from Mexico – The Binational Villa Cavalcade. On the left, the actor, Rafael Celestino, played Pancho Villa.


From the left: New Mexico US Congressman, Steve Pearce, Pancho, Antonio Villa Alcázar (great, great grandson of Pancho Villa), and Columbus Mayor, Phillip Skinner.   Antonio palled around with our group (including Helen Patton) for the rest of the day.


Jeff and Pancho!


Closing Ceremony – The 13th Cavalry (Ft. Bliss, Texas) assembled for the benediction, lowering of the Flag, and Taps.



That evening our group enjoyed a Grand Friendship dinner in Deming, NM, which included Antonio Villa Alcázar, a great, great grandson of Pancho Villa.


Antonio was invited to the Columbus commemorations by Heribert von Feilitzsch and his wife, Berkley.  Heribert is an author and authority on the Mexican Revolution and the Pancho Villa Raid.  During his research he befriended Antonio.  Antonio is 27 yrs old, educated in Europe, and is a real estate developer in Juárez, Mexico.   From the left, Berkley, Heribert, and Helen Patton.  Visit Heribert’s amazing website:


This is what reconciliation looks like!  Antonio and Helen


Because Helen wrote the Foreword to my book, Honoring The Doughboys, Following my Grandfather’s World War I Diary,  we both signed a copy for him.  On Monday, March 7, Helen and I signed my book for Mrs. Sandra Pershing and on March 12 we signed another for a descendant of Pancho Villa.  Unbelievable!


This entry was posted in Uncategorized on by .

About Jeff Lowdermilk

I have traveled to Europe several times over the last few years to follow my grandfather's path as detailed in his World War I diary. My grandfather was an American Infantryman who survived the war. This has been an adventurous journey of self-exploration. The friends I have made along the way and experiences gained have greatly enriched my life