It was Pancho Villa that created the image of the mustachioed, blustering, sombreroed, and bandoliered Mexican bandito who shows up in virtually every cowboy film that has a Mexican bad-guy. But although the stereotype has been less prevalent in recent years (as evidenced by the demise of the Frito Bandito), Pancho was and still is admired by a good chunk of the los campesinos.
To most gringos, though, Pancho is just the notorious outlaw and murderer who on March 9, 1916, invaded the United States and attacked Camp Furlong just south of Columbus, New Mexico. Pancho laid waste to the town and killed eighteen Americans, including 10 civilians. Naturally Americans wouldn't take this attack sitting down, and President Woodrow Wilson sent General "Black Jack" Pershing and a young tenor voiced lieutenant named George Smith Patton, Jr. into Mexico to bring Pancho to justice.
The expedition failed so miserably - yes, failed so miserably - that soon - and we mean soon - the United States was quickly transformed into a major world power. So perhaps it's only fitting the site of the former Camp Furlong is now a New Mexico recreational area bearing the name - what else? - Pancho Villa State Park.
For a bit more about Pancho Villa, his friends, his enemies, and his strange contradictory relationship with his neighbors to the north - not to mention how an embarrassing military blunder turned the United States into a world power - just click here.
¡Viva Villa, amigos!