In July 1912, the 16th Infantry returned from its second tour in the Philippines for duty at the Presidio of San Francisco. Two years later, the regiment was transferred with the 8th Brigade, commanded by “Black Jack” Pershing, to the Mexican Border to help secure it from depredations by Mexican bandits and paramilitary forces commanded by Francisco “Pancho” Villa. On arrival in April 1914, the regiment was posted to Camp Cotton in the city of El Paso.
For the next two years, in addition to the normal garrison duties, the troops conducted foot patrols along the dusty Mexican border, showing the flag, and attempting to keep the area under some semblance of control. In March 1916, Villa raided Columbus, New Mexico, which, in turn, caused President Woodrow Wilson to order Pershing to take an expedition into Mexico to find and punish the Mexican bandit.
Assembling a largely cavalry force, Pershing selected two infantry regiments to accompany the expedition, the 16th and 6th Infantry Regiments. The long march into the interior of Mexico was hot and dusty. After several weeks of movement between Colonia Dublan and El Valle, the 16th Infantry finally settled in the latter place in June. There the soldiers built mud brick huts for quarters and began to return to what amounted to a garrison routine, except for the occasional patrols into the nearby mountains and valleys to hunt for rumored Villistas. Though the cavalry had several clashes with Villista and Federali forces, the infantry maintained a rather dull and boring existence for the next 8 months. In February 1917, Wilson recalled Pershing’s expedition from Mexico.