Mexican Revolutionary Soldiers Who Rode With Pancho Villa FetedSTEWART TAGGART , Associated Press
Aug. 31, 1987 1:28 PM ET
HOUSTON (AP) _ They rode tall and fought hard as teen-agers under Mexican revolutionary hero Francisco ''Pancho'' Villa, who helped bring a constitutional government to Mexico that stands today.
Jesus M. Gonzalez and Leo Reynoso, both 87, were honored Sunday as two of the few remaining survivors of Villa's forces. A third survivor, Rafael Lorenzana Reyna, 88, could not travel from Brownsville for the reunion.
''General Villa was a man, as all other men are, with a simple heart but high ideals,'' said Gonzalez, who served with Villa as a captain between 1912 and 1915.
Villa was a ''hardworking, very honest man, and he knew when to become angry when the situation called for it,'' he said through an interpreter.
Gonzalez and Reynoso, who rode with Villa from 1914 to 1916, were presented commemorative awards by the Urbina Foundation, a charitable group dedicated to, among other things, preserving Texas and Mexican history.
''When you finally realize that there are only three or four survivors, then you realize that is the time to bring them together,'' said Manuel Urbina II, foundation chairman.
''When we become aware that this episode in history is about to pass before us, it becomes time to honor them,'' he said.
Urbina said the three are the only survivors of the army that helped wage the Mexican revolution between 1910 and 1917 that he has been able to find. Reyna served with Villa from 1915 to 1917.
In addition to the awards, the men were given specimens of currency dated 1913 from the Mexican state of Chihuahua that bore Villa's name. A grandson of Reyna accepted the awards on his behalf.
The Mexican Revolution began in 1910, when opposition grew to the 30-year rule of President Porfiro Diaz. Francisco Madero, supported by revolutionaries in northern Mexico headed by Villa and in southern Mexico by Emilio Zapata, assumed the presidency in 1911, exiling Diaz to Paris.
Instability and fighting wracked the country until 1917, when the present- day constitution was written.