Few know that the origin of the PJS Riders began as a result of litigation. Camp Pendleton was a litigant in the up-stream water rights for the Santa Margarita River with the Vail Ranch (which became Rancho California ) and the village of Fallbrook , which wanted to build a dam on the river. Our founder, Allen C. (Ace) Bowen, was a civil engineer with a water specialty involved in the Imperial Valley Water Project. Ace was also involved with the Brawley Cattle Call. The Marine Corps, needing a water expert in the litigation, decided that it would be cheaper to bring Ace, then a captain in the reserves, back to active duty than to pay for the expert advice over a lengthy period.
In 1951 Ace returned to active duty and also started up the Camp Pendleton rodeo, teaching aspiring Marines how to ride and how to judge. He then culminated the season with a Base Finals Rodeo and carnival with proceeds going to the Navy Relief Society. This contributed more to Navy Relief than all other contributions combined. The Rodeo Grand Entry included members of the Long Beach Mounted Patrol among which was Vic York who encouraged and then supported Richard Nixon to run for the U.S. Senate against Helen Gahagan Douglas wife of the actor Melvin Douglas. Vic and a few of his cronies suggested a Wednesday through Friday Trek through the Base prior to the rodeo which would begin with a Saturday Grand Entry on the first weekend in June. Thus began the first trek in 1959.
The early membership was less diverse than today's. Vic's influence brought in members principally of the AI Malaika Temple and the Long Beach Mounted Patrol. They included Bill Abemathy, Chairman of the Board of Pacific Pipeline and Hal Haney who owned an oil field drilling company in Signal Hill and was famous for his photo of an oil derrick, fully manned with nude Woman at all positions. Unfortunately, his wife found his stack of pictures and burned them all. The only one remaining is in the hands of "The Bustardos" and occupies the center behind the bar in their annual ride of Rancheros Visitadores in the Santa Ynez Valley near Santa Barbara . Other of his recruits were Toby Dunnigan, owner of four off-shore oil rigs, one off the coast of Norway, two in the Gulf of Mexico and one off California; Buck Jordan, owner of an oil field supply company; Roscoe Hazzard one of the largest contractors in San Diego County. Joe Jaap, owner of a Ford dealership in La Habra ; and, of course, a bevy of lawyers.
Ace's recruits included Montie Montana who proposed the trek should have no women; Andy Jauregi the dean of rodeo stock contractors; Dick Walker, owner of a fleet of livestock trucks; Boyd Furry who ran cattle on Camp Pendleton ; cattlemen from Rancho Mission Viejo and Marine Officers from Camp Pendleton .