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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Basic Biittner: Not the first time

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

If National Guard troops are indeed sent to the Mexican border, it would not be the first time.

The precipitating situation is certainly not the same as it is now, but the very first time that National Guard troops were called upon to assist in a federal matter also involved guarding the Mexican border, exactly 90 years ago, in 1916.

The notorious Pancho Villa had become angry with the United States in 1915 for not supporting his bid for the Mexican Presidency. Villa swore revenge on the US, and on January 11, 1916, at Santa Ysabel, his men executed 16 American businessmen (mining engineers) who had been invited to visit by the Mexican president. On March 9, 1916, Villa and his followers staged a surprise attack on the US Cavalry at Camp Furlong, near the town of Columbus, New Mexico. When the three-hour attack was over, there were 14 soldiers and 10 civilians dead, and the town had been set on fire.

The town was devastated, both physically and emotionally, and never returned to its pre-raid glory. President Woodrow Wilson called out 15,000 National Guard troops , to be stationed along the US -Mexican border, to prevent Villa from entering the United States again.

At the same time , the US Army Expeditionary Force, led by General "Black Jack" Pershing, headed into northern Mexico to try and capture Villa. Pershing and his troops were not successful, but did manage to pretty much end Villa's "reign of terror", as he went into hiding and reportedly died several years later.

Gee- a terrorist in hiding -- who does that remind me of?

In one way or another, at one location or another, at one time or another, history does indeed repeat itself.

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner