Passengers on Doomed 1948 Flight, Their Names Now Emerge From Shadows
Please, just go to the original article to read and look at the whole thing. It does a masterful job of telling the tale: Passengers on Doomed 1948 Flight, Their Names Now Emerge From Shadows
On Jan. 28, 1948, a plane chartered by U.S. Immigration Services left Oakland carrying 32 people, including 28 Mexicans. Many were part of the bracero program and had finished their government-sponsored work contracts. A ride home was part of the deal. Others had entered the country illegally.
Over farms and ranches on the edge of the Diablo Range, 20 miles west of Coalinga, the World War II surplus DC-3 trailed black smoke. An engine exploded. A wing broke off, floating left and right. More than 100 witnesses watched bodies and luggage thrown from the fireball. There were no survivors.
News accounts named only the pilot, first officer, stewardess — who was also the pilot’s wife — and an immigration officer. The others were listed simply as “deportees.”
Back in Colorado, Hernandez couldn’t get the deportees out of his mind. Scouring old news accounts, he learned they were buried at Holy Cross. His calls to the diocese cemetery offices were brushed off when he said he wanted information from 1948.
Frustrated, he scanned a roster of employees on the diocese website until he found a Latino surname — Rascon.
“I’m looking for the names of 28 deportees,” Hernandez told him in a phone call last year.
“I have the names,” Rascon replied.
Hernandez and Rascon had decided to raise money for a memorial engraved with the deportees’ names. As they neared their $10,000 goal, Rascon and the diocese wanted to press ahead, but Hernandez was reluctant without having found even one family member.
He put out a plea through local media, but heard nothing. After he mentioned his quest at a writers conference at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, a woman with silver curls and tears streaming down her face approached him.
“My father believed in the importance of names,” Nora Guthrie told him. “He would repeat them like a chant. Even just finding their names matters.”
[…]This marker at Holy Cross cemetery in Fresno will be replaced by a monument with the names of all the Mexican citizens who perished in the 1948 crash.
The stone will be etched with 32 falling leaves, four of them bearing the initials of the Americans who died on the flight. In the center will be 28 names:
Miguel Negrete Álvarez. Tomás Aviña de Gracia. Francisco Llamas Durán. Santiago García Elizondo. Rosalio Padilla Estrada. Tomás Padilla Márquez. Bernabé López Garcia. Salvador Sandoval Hernández. Severo Medina Lára. Elías Trujillo Macias. José Rodriguez Macias. Luis López Medina. Manuel Calderón Merino. Luis Cuevas Miranda. Martin Razo Navarro. Ignacio Pérez Navarro. Román Ochoa Ochoa. Ramón Paredes Gonzalez. Guadalupe Ramírez Lára. Apolonio Ramírez Placencia. Alberto Carlos Raygoza. Guadalupe Hernández Rodríguez. Maria Santana Rodríguez. Juan Valenzuela Ruiz. Wenceslao Flores Ruiz. José Valdívia Sánchez. Jesús Meza Santos. Baldomero Marcas Torres.
Maybe if I hadn’t heard Woody’s words set to Martin Hoffman’s music sung so many times by so many artists, this wouldn’t have made me cry.