Focus Issue 05

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This issue — which spans from June 15 to night of July 14, 2002 — encompasses several celebrations or events that take place in and near Roswell. Those are: The visit to Roswell of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall; the second annual 2K Car Show, which is a national Volkswagen convention for new “Beetles” and their owners; Independence Day; the UFO Festival; and the Billy the Kid Outlaw Gang campout near Ruidoso. This issue’s Focus page will focus on each of these.






The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall arrived in Roswell the morning of June 10 and assembly was completed that evening. The following day, June 11, the Wall was officially dedicated, and it remains up through June 17 at the Russ DeKay Soccer Field, west of the Wool Bowl. Throughout its stay in Roswell, local Vietnam veterans and Army National Guardsmen guard the Wall and assist visitors in finding the names of their fallen comrades and loved ones. A reading of names of those from all other counties of New Mexico that are on the Wall will be read at noon each day, grouped by counties.


Personal memorial to 1st. Lt. Robert Leisy (written on the ribbon) left at the Wall in Roswell

This Moving Wall was brought to the community by the Roswell Hispano Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Bureau, and local veterans organizations. Many months, planning committees, groups and organizations, businesses and individuals were also involved in bring the Wall to this community.

The Moving Wall, which has been touring the U.S., thus far, for 17 years, is a smaller, nearly half-size, facsimile of the original, stationary one in Washington DC. To reach everyone in outlying areas, more than one replica Moving Wall tours the country. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC, of polished granite, is 493.5 feet long, and 10.2 feet high in the center or vertex, whereas the Moving Wall is 252.83 feet long and six feet high at the vertex. The Moving Wall is a total of 74 separate frames, each containing two panels, made of aluminum panels, painted with a gloss black mirror finish, and the names are silk-screen stencils. On the wall, as of January 1, 2002, are 58,225 names, including prisoner-of-war (POW) and missing-in-action (MIA). There are currently 600 more names to be added.

Three flags fly at the Wall Memorial in Roswell: the American flag, the New Mexico State flag and (foreground) the black MIA (missing-in-action) flag.

A + beside the name signifies MIA or POW. When the remains are recovered, the + is made into a diamond-shape. A circle around the + signifies that the person was later freed or brought home. Eight women are named on the Wall, seven Army nurses and one Air Force nurse; 16 military chaplains are listed, two of those awarded the Medal of Honor.

Items left as personal memorials beside the Moving Wall during its tours around the U.S. are later boxed, the origin (ie. Roswell, NM) noted, and sent to San Jose, California and placed in the museum at the permanent Wall site.


Personal memorial to Arturo S. Sisneros left at the Wall in Roswell

On the Wall are the significant years 1959 and 1975 — dates when the first known casualties and the last occurred in Vietnam. After the dedication of the Memorial Wall, it was discovered that a soldier was killed in action earlier than 1959 — in 1957. The last 18 casualties of the Vietnam war occurred on May 15, 1975 during a rescue of a U.S. freighter and its crew.

Vietnam Veterans from Chaves County killed in action, and named on the Wall are: Cpt. John K. Adams; Pfc. Abelardo Araujo; Sp5 Rodney Joe Black; Sp4 Monty Doyal Boyer; Sp4 Larry Paul Campos; Pfc Melvin Carrillo; Pfc. John Rudolph Cummins, Jr.; Bul3 George Robert DeShurley; Cpl James Lester Foster; SSgt Robert Lee Graham; Sp4 William Coy Jones; Pfc. Billie Jaye Marling; Sp4 Sammy Chacon Romero; Pfc. Trine Romero Jr.; Pfc. Hector Mario Saenz; Spr Jose L. Sanchez; Pfc. Cresencio Paul Sanchez; Pfc. Julius Mitchell Sanders; Maj. Gerald Shields Simons; Cpl Bennie Lee West; Sp4 Lavon Stephen Wilson; and Cpl Arturo Sylvester Sisneros.


Personal memorial to Capt. John K. Adams, former NMMI cadet, placed at the Wall in Roswell

Members of New Mexico Military Institute Alumni Association previously traveled to Washington DC to make rubbings of all names of former NMMI cadets permanently inscribed on the Wall. Those 28 servicemen hold an honored place in the Vietnam memorial at NMMI.

The first national Vietnam Veterans Memorial was conceived and built by Dr. Victor Westphall of Angel Fire, New Mexico. He began construction of the memorial, a beautiful, uniquely shaped amphitheatre, in the high mountain setting of Angel Fire in northeastern New Mexico in memory of his son, David, and those who died with him in Vietnam. Like the one in Angel Fire, the idea of another Vietnam Veterans Memorial — this one to be located in our nation’s capital — began with one person. It was funded by citizen donations, designed by Maya Ying Lin, and dedicated in 1982. The idea of a Moving Wall — taking the Wall across the country so its presence could “touch” more people — came from three Vietnam Veterans from California. Those same three Vietnam Veterans created the Moving Wall. The Moving Wall, like the original in Washington DC, was paid for by public donations. Within 4 days of its completion in October 1984, it was displayed at its first scheduled location in Tyler, Texas and continues to travel all over the U.S., dedicated “To Honor, To Heal and To Remember.”






BeetleMania is contagious; this is a local Bank Beetle, owned by the Bank of the Southwest.

The 2K Car Show, called the biggest gathering of Volkswagen New Beetles in the country, rolls into Roswell June 14 through June 16. New Beetles and their owners gather in Roswell from all over the U.S. Their event begins Friday night with a sky-watch party at the Club House west of Roswell. Representatives of the Roswell Planetarium will be on hand to assist sky-watchers looking for UFOs and other interesting phenomena in the sky above Roswell. Later that night, the Beetles, bedecked and glowing, parade back into Roswell. Saturday is the New Beetle Only Car Show at the Roswell Convention and Civic Center on North Main. At least 50 trophies will be given to the owners, and vendor booths will sell Beetle-mania stuff. Beginning at 3 p.m. is the New Beetle Parade of Color; a “Come as Your Favorite Alien” party, with dinner, dancing and costume awards, will be held at the Civic Center that night. Sunday, participators choose among many activities, including a visit to the International UFO Museum and Research Center and the Alien Zone, a Beetle-caravan south to Carlsbad Caverns or west to Mescalero for the Rally of the Mountain Gods.




The most important of these current events is our nation’s Independence Day, celebrated on the Fourth of July each year, commemorating our nation’s independence in 1776. It is also the day, along with Memorial Day, when we honor all of our veterans from all wars, and all of our servicemen currently in the military.


The Veterans’ Memorial, honoring veterans of all wars, with inscribed names of local servicemen who died serving their country in times of war. This memorial stands in front of the Chaves County Administrative Center, Joseph R. Skeen Building, at No. 1 St. Mary’s Place, Roswell, which was dedicated on Memorial Day, 2002.

Since 9-11, Memorial Day and Fourth of July have become even more important to U.S. citizens. The acts that led us into an ongoing War on Terrorism shook our nation. That shaking awakened Americans’ (too often slumbering) patriotism and appreciation of our servicemen and women, both in the military and those serving within the community who dedicate their lives to keeping all of us safe and free. In addition to 9-11, Roswell suffered two of its own terrible events. A helicopter crash took the lives of two New Mexico State Police officers. Another situation led to the deaths of Roswell’s Fire Chief and an American Medical Response paramedic when they responded to an emergency. It also resulted in the death of a neighboring city employee who tried to aid the burn victim, and to the serious injury of that employee’s child. (See archived March issue for details.) Each event thrust this community into deep mourning, but also caused this community to become stronger and more united, as residents gathered close with a common heartache and rendered aid and comfort to the survivors and victims’ families, and to each other.

On Memorial Day — in honor of all who died saving others on 9-11, those who died in and near Roswell in recent events, and all who regularly risk their lives for residents — the Roswell Fire Department, American Medical Response, Chaves County Sheriff’s Office, New Mexico State Police and Roswell Police Department were recognized.


Pictured here are representatives of the Roswell Fire Department, American Medical Response, Chaves County Sheriff’s Office and New Mexico State Police. Not pictured are representatives of the Roswell Police Department. These departments of public safety were honored at the 2002 Memorial Day Service.


Bugler, Louis Brady, of the Roswell Veterans’ Honor Guard, on 2002 Memorial Day.

2002 Fourth of July Salute to Veterans and Fireworks Extravaganza at Cielo Grande Recreation Area begins with patriotic music provided by the Chaves County Community Youth Band Camp at 6:30 p.m. The parade of veterans begins at 8 p.m. honoring all area veterans of all wars, and the Fireworks Extravaganza begins at 9:15 p.m.

Sponsors of the event are: Roswell Fireworks Committee; Leadership Roswell Alumni Association; Roswell Fire Department; Roswell Recreation and Parks; Mike Satterfield and Mike Puckett, fireworks chairs; John Jerge, CPA-Treasurer; city employees Laurie Jerge and Shelia McKnight present the Salute to Veterans.




excerpt from poem by Joyce Abrahamson

The Fourth of July is a glorious day,
with picnic, parades and fun
and a beautiful fireworks display,
there’s something for everyone.
Blankets spread upon the grass
underneath the trees,
some folks in their lawn chairs
enjoy shooting the breeze.
Neighbors meeting neighbors,
the kids will find their friends,
and together watch the fireworks
when the daylight finally ends.
You hold your hands up to your ears,
they make a lot of noise;
the beauty of the skyrockets
everyone enjoys.
Do we all remember
what the celebration’s for?
We won our independence in
the Revolutionary War.
The Fireworks remind us
of the flashing of the gun,
the cannon with it’s thunder
and the enemy on the run.
Protect our independence
for which forefathers fought;
wave our flag so proudly
on this day our history bought.






The Roswell 2002 UFO Festival runs from Thursday, July 4, through Sunday, July 7. The many events take place all over the city. Thursday, vendors begin setting up their booths and wares at the Civic Center. Opening ceremonies and the Alien Market trade show begin at noon; the Fourth of July activities at Cielo Grande, and a night golf tournament close out the day. Friday are the all-day vendors’ market and Alien Market , UFO lectures, and an electric light UFO parade; and a UFO/Alien Masquerade Ball ends the day. Saturday begins at 6 a.m. with a Dawn Patrol for model aircraft flyers and the Alien Chase 5K and 10K run. Vendors and Alien Market all day, an Alien Costume Contest, a UFO lecture; and a live entertainment concert ends the day. Sunday, vendors and Alien Market all day, plus live entertainment. The Roswell Spacewalk is an added attraction, taking you on a trip through time and space, beginning 1947.

Invited guests and entertainers include: music by Chris Daniels & the Kings; native American flute music by Douglas Bluefeather; and — in recognition of the 20th anniversary of E.T. the Extra Terrestrial — actress Dee Wallace Stone who was in that movie and other productions.


Some of Roswell’s Aliens are displayed in shop windows.

This is a brief overview of what Roswell’s UFO Festival commemorates:

Hundreds of UFO sightings were reported all over the U.S. in late June, 1947. Mac Brazel, a rancher near Corona, perhaps 90 miles northwest of Roswell, claimed that he heard something sounding like a terrible crash on the night of July 2, 1947. The next day, as he rode over his pasture with a neighbor boy, he found something unusual had crash-landed in his pasture. He said the debris he found scattered over a large area was unlike anything he had ever before seen. He said it was thin, lightweight, flexible, but it couldn’t be burned, torn or cut; many other witnesses who saw or handled some of the material described it the same way.

Brazel traveled the considerable distance (for that time, which was post-World War II when means of transportation was scarce and expensive) from the ranch to Roswell on Sunday, July 6, taking some of the material with him. His first stop was at the Sheriff’s office. The sheriff suggested he call the Roswell Army Air Field located south of Roswell. A popular local reporter and radio announcer happened to call the sheriff’s office looking for news and the sheriff handed the phone to Brazel.

RAAF officers traveled with Brazel to his ranch. On July 8, with orders from Washington DC, the RAAF public information officer, Walter Haut, announced the crash of a UFO to all of the local media and the world-at-large. Soon after, the Army and the U.S. government announced that the debris was nothing more than a weather balloon.

UFO historians later learned that another UFO crash site was found by archeology students on July 3 on the Plains of St. Augustin, near Magdalena. That one reportedly had a more intact space vehicle and also alien bodies.

Glenn Dennis, then a Roswell mortician, received a call from the RAAF asking about child-size coffins and how to preserve bodies. When he went to the RAAF hospital to deliver the small caskets, he met a visibly shaken nurse he knew who told him she had witnessed an alien autopsy. Except for a few whispered confidences, the incident became a guarded secret for more than 40 years.

Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt investigated the story and interviewed hundreds of people. Their book, UFO Crash at Roswell was published in 1991 and the story was no longer a secret. Since, many books, movies and made-for-TV specials have publicized the incident world-wide. With the publicity has come word of additional sites and related incidents during that period of time in the area of Roswell and southeastern New Mexico. Hundreds of people are still available, including Roswell residents Walter Haut and Glenn Dennis, who were directly involved with Roswell’s UFO incident of 1947. Haut, Dennis and their friend and local realtor, J. Max Littell, founded the International UFO Museum and Research Center. By the summer of 2001, one million people had visited it.

Is the story true or false? You decide. Regardless, the publicity had brought world recognition to Roswell, New Mexico.

For more in-depth details of the Roswell Incident, go to the Industry page in this issue.







The (1881) Lincoln County Courthouse from where Billy the Kid made his famous last escape.

Billy the Kid Outlaw Gang (BTKOG) will have their annual campout July 11 through July 14 at Campsite #2, in the Cedar Creek Campgrounds, which was recently renamed the Sam Tobias Memorial Group Area. It was renamed for Sam Tobias, air tactical group supervisor, who lost his life in an aircraft accident relating to the New Mexico wildfires on May 15, 2000.

Billy the Kid Outlaw Gang, Inc., in association with the New Mexico Historical Society, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving, protecting and promoting the factual history of Billy the Kid Bonney and Pat Garrett in New Mexico. The Gang’s current headquarters is in Capitan. BTKOG is supported by memberships and donations. BTKOG invites visitors to come to Billy the Kid – Pat Garrett country in New Mexico and learn more about them. Their website lists books to learn more about them and the American Southwest.

Anyone interesting in knowing more about membership in this Gang or the cook-out may Email or visit the official BTKOG website:

The annual membership fees are: $20 for single memberships, $$30 for couples or family membership, and $35 for foreign family memberships. The Gang pays the camping fee, but will charge $5 for each car that comes to the campsite with members and guests to “partake” of the food. The Gang provides members a free cowboy breakfast at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, July 13. In lieu of the usual Stinking Springs Stew Contest (due to extreme fire danger), BTKOG will sell hotdogs, hamburgers and nachos. Supper, following the Bob Barron Annual Debate, will be potluck. Each member and guest is to provide a food item. All the other meals at the campout are up to the individual Gangsters who attend. Campers may eat in camp with the other Gangsters or down the road a mile in Ruidoso. Keep track of fire restrictions and come prepared to eat meals not prepared over campfires.

A woman, Maryln Bowlin of Taiban, New Mexico founded the Billy the Kid Outlaw Gang in Taiban, New Mexico in 1987, shortly after she learned of a Billy the Kid museum begun in Hico, Texas. That museum promotes the notion that a man named Brushy Bill Roberts was the real Billy the Kid who escaped death by Pat Garrett and lived for many more years. Hers and the Gang’s purpose is to protect the true, and well researched history of William Bonney, otherwise known as Billy the Kid, who was killed by Sheriff Patrick Garrett at Fort Sumner.


Members now number in the hundreds. Membership in Billy the Kid Outlaw Gang, Inc. can be obtained by going to the BTKOG website on the Internet:, filling out the membership form and mailing the dues. Benefits include a membership card; full-size auto license plate; a copy of the annual publication, An Outlaw Gang Gazette, published in November; BTKOG annual newsletter mailed in May; the annual BTKOG campout near Ruidoso in July; free admission to the Old Fort Sumner Museum in old Fort Sumner, New Mexico (a few miles east of present-day Fort Sumner community).


The most important benefit to belonging to BTKOG is the great camaraderie of wonderful and interesting people who gather annually at the campout.


The guards were across the street from the jail eating at the Wortley Hotel (above) when Billy the Kid began to make his famous last escape.








Photo courtesy of Historical Center for Southeast New Mexico, Photo No. 2788.

Camp Camino, during the flood of 1937, which is also mentioned in the following letter describing the flood of 1941. Camp Camino, a “tourist camp,” service station and cafe on North Main near Spring River in Roswell, flooded in 1937 and again in 1941. The people in the photo are Roswellites viewing the results of the flood in late May or early June of 1937.

This letter, among the Redfield papers in the archives of the Historical Center for Southeast New Mexico, was written by a 17-year old Roswell girl in October 1941 to a friend in the military, Captain Sidney C. Redfield, 40 F. A., Camp Roberts, California. The letter describes the 1941 flood. The writer, still living, gave her consent to publish the letter.

The archived photo and the letter were provided to Roswell Web Magazine by Elvis E. Fleming, Archivist, HCSNM.


907 N. Penn Roswell, N.Mex. Oct. 2, 1941


Dear Sidney,


I guess you thought I wasn’t going to write, but boy have I been busy. We even had to go to school on Saturday. We had a flood last Tues. and Wed. It wasn’t so bad, but at any rate, we had to go to school on Sat.

Then this week, we had another flood. It came Mon. nite (sic), and was 18-1/2 inches deep in our front yard. It just lacked five inches of getting in our house. It got in Parsons house, and they had to get out. We called the police and they came and got them out. They had a couple of inches of mud in their house. Mr. Parson fell down twice, it didn’t hurt him.

Mrs. Tucker and her renters had to move out also. A tractor came and took them out. Her house was worse than Parsons’. It got all over her house about 4″ deep.

Our basement is full and we don’t have gas. Bernice Santheson (D’Abadie) brought us an electric hot plate to use.

The fair was called off. Everybody was sure dissapointed (sic). E.A.P. came down last Fri., and they left Sun. afternoon, trying to beat the flood back. I got a letter from Ell J. She seems to like college ok. She said the pictures you sent her were good. Thanks a lot for the ones you sent to me, they were good and I sure appreciate it.

The footbridge on Penn and Kentucky went out. The one on Kentucky floated down here and landed in Harrold’s lawn. (Them moved out too.) The one on Penn sunk. All the fenses (sic) in this block fell down. It is going to cost $85 to have a car fixed that was in the water. The water has been up 3 days and will probably be up at least 1 more.

Camp Camino has 4 inches in it, cabins, store and all. We will be going to school on Sat. the rest of our lives if this keeps on. Ray Levers was killed in a car wreck in the flood. So was the guy that owns the Capitan theater. The Yucca theater had 13 inches of water — Oh! Me!

I am glad you like the Camp in Calif. I bet its really swell.

Last Sun. Sept. 28 I had a birthday. I got a new two piece wool dress and a crousuage (sic) of 6 rose buds. I also got my class ring (except it hasn’t come in yet.) I was 17. I had Betty W. spend the night with me, and she ate breakfast with us. Bernice S. ate dinner with us, and Virginia Henry ate supper with us. Then came floods Mon. Ug!! (It rained all day Sun.)

You probably won’t get this until late because I don’t think there’s a way for mail to come or go. But anyway, I’ll send it.

Parsons are okey. Write when you can find time.

Nina Gene

P.S. Send some of that Calf. (sic) sun over here, we need it to dry things up around hear (sic).

Teacher – “How do you spell weather?”

Johnny — “W-u-t-h-e-r.”

Teacher — “That’s the worst spell of weather we have had in a long time.”




(Roswell floods have become just a memory. There have been no floods since construction of the Two Rivers Dam. RWM)


Captain Joseph C. Lea: From Confederate Guerrilla to New Mexico Patriarch
, the new book by Elvis E. Fleming, is available at the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico, 200 N. Lea Avenue, and also at Cobean’s Stationery, 320 N. Richardson Avenue, Roswell. The book sells for $25, with over 260 pages plus 66 illustrations. It was published by Yucca Tree Press in Las Cruces, in cooperation with, and to benefit, the HSSNM.

The author, Fleming, is city historian, member of and archivist for Historical Society for New Mexico, as well as Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell professor of history, emeritus.