To the Editors:
Brian Urquhart’s estimable review of Richard Clarke’s recent book [“A Matter of Truth,” NYR, May 13] contains a statement that must be challenged. He says, on page 12, that “the continental United States had not had a violent attack on its soil for nearly two hundred years….” The citizens of Co-lumbus, New Mexico, would, in 1916, have found that surprising. Francisco (Pancho) Villa raided this village from Mexico, and killed sixteen of its citizens. His wish to have the US go to war with Mexico was not fulfilled, but John J. (Black Jack) Pershing was sent to bring him to justice, employing the first operational use of airplanes by the US military. Pershing’s punitive expedition was unsuccessful, but his service brought him to the attention of the President, and he was named commander of the American Expeditionary Force the next year when we went to war in France against the Kaiser’s forces.
My father tried to enlist in Pershing’s expedition, but needed his mother’s permission, which was not given. In 1917, he did enlist, and went to France with Pershing in the 4th Alabama, where he was in combat until wounded at Soissons, and in hospital service until 1919. The Columbus raid is a footnote in my family’s history, but is still very real to the citizens of that border town.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Brian Urquhart replies:
I am grateful to McAllister Hull for his most interesting correction. I should have said that the continental United States had not had a “major” violent attack on its soil.
July 15, 2004