In the Pancho Villa photograph, who is the man peering over Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing’s left shoulder? Huge wager on this! Your input, please.
Camp Verde, Arizona
That man is definitely Lt. James Lawton Collins, aide de camp to Gen. Black Jack Pershing.
Since the photo was taken in August 1914, we can eliminate Dwight D. Eisenhower because he didn’t graduate from West Point until 1915. Although George Patton graduated from the Academy in 1909, his facial features differ from that man’s. Patton was Pershing’s aide de camp during the 1916 Punitive Expedition in retaliation for Pancho Villa’s raid in Columbus, New Mexico. Unfortunately, Collins has been misidentified as Patton on the Internet and in history books, but if you compare the photos of Patton and Collins, you will see this is a no-brainer.
Collins, father of Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, had a distinguished military career. During WWII, he commanded the Puerto Rico Department; he retired as a major general in 1946.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org