By Roger G. Miller
On March 15, 1916, the first Aero Squadron arrived at Columbus, New Mexico, its teach steaming into the crowded, chaotic city at 9:15 within the morning. Led by means of Capt. Benjamin D. Foulois, a lantern-jawed, bantam-weight former enlisted guy, the squadron integrated 11 officials, eighty-two enlisted males, and one civilian technician. lower than Foulois's path, the boys unloaded an car, six bikes, and twelve motor vehicles, autos infrequent in 1916 New Mexico or even rarer in a military nonetheless wedded to the pony and mule. those have been by way of wood crates containing 8 wooden, cord, and upholstery Curtiss JN--3 biplanes, each plane owned by way of the U.S. military, keep these assigned to its aviation college at San Diego, California. The squadron was once in Columbus to hitch an excursion commanded via Brig. Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing. President Woodrow Wilson had ordered Pershing's strength into Mexico in accordance with a March nine assault at the tiny border city through the Mexican desperado, Francisco "Pancho" Villa. the development used to be auspicious. For the 1st time, the U.S. Army's whole air force---the 1st Aero Squadron---had deployed for an energetic crusade. the first Aero Squadron performed an important function within the Punitive excursion, yet, in dramatic distinction to how an air strength features at the present time, it served as a method of conversation and commentary, now not as a combatant arm. a few experiments with bombs and computer weapons have been performed, and the battle in Europe was once fast turning the aircraft right into a critical weapon of warfare. however, U.S. military leaders expected aviation's basic project to be the receipt and transmission of knowledge for tactical commanders and long-distance scouting as an accessory to the cavalry. consequently, throughout the cellular section of the Punitive excursion, the first Aero Squadron enabled Pershing to find and converse together with his commonly dispersed, fast-moving columns and carried dispatches among Pershing's major and complex bases. The squadron additionally scouted for opposed forces and stored an eye for threats to Pershing's line of communications. As might be noticeable, those efforts have been made in a few of the worst climate and poorest stipulations possible, and by way of the top of April, all 8 airplanes were destroyed. through the static part of the Punitive day trip, the first Aero Squadron remained at Columbus, the place Foulois and his males operated a try out and overview software for a wide selection of airplanes and aviation gear. in the course of either levels of the crusade, the officials and males of the first Aero Squadron realized classes approximately airplanes, apparatus, and operations within the box that might be utilized in France lower than a 12 months later.
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Extra resources for A Preliminary to War: The 1st Aero Squadron and the Mexican Punitive Expedition of 1916
53 flew to Columbus. Foulois, the remaining officers, and the squadron enlisted personnel left Namiquipa in the truck train and reached Columbus on April 22. Lieutenant Carberry checked into the base hospital, suffering from asthma. C. Nos. 114 In the meantime, a frustrated Pershing wrote General Funston that to continue, he had to seize complete control of the territory. Accordingly, he proposed to occupy the state of Chihuahua and take over the railroads. This proposal, a major escalation over the original purpose of the Punitive Expedition, threatened a commitment in Mexico far beyond anything President Wilson had anticipated and threatened to lead to something no one really wanted: a shooting war with Carranza’s forces.
About seventy miles south of San Geronimo, Dargue and Foulois found William C. Brown’s command just as it entered Cusihuiriachic Canyon. They 33 Lt. Carleton G. Chapman in Signal Corps No. 53 preparing to takeoff at Casas Grande. 91 On April 6, the 1st Aero Squadron truck train reached the advanced base at San Geronimo, although the machine shop section appears to have remained at Namiquipa. In the meantime, Dargue and Rader flew to the Cusihuiriachic Canyon area, where they again found Brown’s column.
Airplanes based at Casas Grandes would make daily flights to Columbus and Namiquipa, returning the following day, while airplanes based at El Valle would make daily flights to Namiquipa, also returning the following day. The plan dedicated all six airplanes to maintaining communications between bases and left none to scout for Pershing’s roving columns as they worked their way south. The second option was for the squadron to abandon communications by airplane with Columbus; establish fuel bases at Casas Grandes, El Valle, and a location south of Namiquipa to be selected later; and concentrate all six airplanes at Namiquipa.