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Captain Emilio Carranza Rodriguez

"LOST TREASURE IN THE PINELANDS"

by Bob Barney - - Member of Post 11 - - ©2001 All rights reserved.

New Jersey is rich with history, including Colonial America, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and beyond. Scattered throughout the pinelands are places of historical significance that have been lost or have been forgotten with time.

One of these forgotten places is in the Wharton State Forest near the 50-mile Batona wilderness trail. The trail weaves through the scrub pines between Lebanon State Forest, through Wharton State Forest, and Bass River State Forest.

Hidden in the scrub pines at Sandy Ridge is a quiet desolate lonely place missed by many hikers, bicyclists, and motorists alike that pass within yards. This quiet serene spot near Sandy Ridge echoes many sounds and voices from the past, but only if you look and listen within care.

Rising from the ground and reaching for the sky stands a stone monument paid for by the Children of Mexico. The children saved their pesos to quarry stone from Coauila, Mexico, the birthplace of their Hero. The stone was cut and fitted into a monument. Afterwards the monument was disassembled and shipped to Mount Holly, NJ. then taken and erected in Chatsworth, NJ.

The Monument stands high reaching into the deep blue sky. On one weather worn side you can still see the name of "Emilio Carranza". Emilio was an aviation pioneer similar to our own Charles Lindbergh. References are still found and made about Emilio Carranza as "The Lindbergh of Mexico".

Charles Lindbergh had made a goodwill flight to Mexico City, and had become a close friend of Emilio. The two spent time together and probably talked about their one and only dream and aspiration, Aviation.

On June 11th, 1928 Emilio embarked on a goodwill mission from Mexico City to Washington, DC. Due to heavy rains and very bad weather he was forced to land in Mooresville, NC, just 300 miles short of his destination. The next day Emilio took off from Mooresville, NC and Landed in Washington DC. Military bands, reporters from around the world, and even President Calvin Coolidge, greeted him.

On June 17th, 1928 Emilio left for New York City and arrived as planned. Emilio had planned leaving New York on July 3rd and flying non-stop to Mexico City. Bad weather conditions delayed his departure several times. Finally after a well-advertised departure he attempted to initiate his flight to Mexico City on July 12th. After many Airport Officials and the U.S. Weather Bureau gave warnings and weather reports of a pending electrical storm, Captain Emilio Carranza had canceled his departure once more and ordered his airplane hangared. The airport officials were relived at his decision and most of them had departed the airport.

Emilio's dinner was interrupted by a telegram that arrived. The telegram was from his Superior Officer, General Joaquin Amaro, which ordered his immediate return.

On July 12th, 1928 at 7:18 in the evening Captain Emilio Carranza lifted off Roosevelt Airport in New York City, disregarding a tremendous electrical storm in progress. Emilio and his plane disappeared into the silence of the menacing storm.

The next day around 3:25 p.m. on July 13th at Sandy Ridge John Carr, while picking berries with his mother and sister, found part of a wing. The wing turned out to be from the Mexico Excelsior, Emilio's plane. The authorities were mobilized and the death of the Mexican hero was confirmed.

Many local children attend school and never hear or read about Emilio Carranza. Without this knowledge they cannot look for or visit The Carranza Memorial at Carranza Park on Carranza Road. Many local residents that have lived in the area for many years have no knowledge of Carranza.

73 years ago Emilio's Life, Emilio's flight, and Emilio's goal were all cut short. It is in his memory and in our own interest that we are obligated to complete his voyage and fulfill his dream of Peace and Goodwill between nations.

Post 11 of The American Legion holds an annual Memorial Service at the crash site on the Saturday closest to the crash date of July 12 at 1:00 p.m. The service is open to the public and all are welcome to attend.

Carranza Park is open every day just as Wharton State Forest. No pass or admission is necessary to visit the memorial.

The Carranza Memorial

AMERICAN LEGION
Post 11,  Mount Holly, NJ

A Stone Monument Commemorating Captain Emilio Carranza, the Mexican Aviator whose plane crashed during a thunderstorm at this site on July 12, 1928 while on the return leg of a goodwill flight between Mexico City and New York. His goodwill mission marked the longest flight flown by a Mexican Aviator.

Every year Mount Holly Post 11 of the American Legion holds a Memorial Service at the Monument to honor the fallen aviator. The Memorial Service is held on the Second Saturday of July at 1:00 p.m.

After the tragedy in 1928, the members of Post 11 made a promise to keep the memory of Emilio Carranza and his mission of Good Will and Peace alive. Every year since 1928, the members of American Legion Post 11 have kept that promise that their preceding comrades had made without fail.


Directions

  Latitude Longitude
GPS N 39 46.652 W 074 37.924
Decimal N 39.777533 W 74.632067
Degree Minute Seconds N 39 46 39 W 74 37 55
UTM       18N X = 531508 Y = 4403131

Elevation 97'


Directions:

From the North:

NJ Turnpike South to Exit No. 7. Follow signs for 206 south. Drive approximately 14 miles south on 206 to the Red Lion Circle (70/206). Continue on 206 south through the circle approximately 1 mile. Bear left off 206 onto Carranza Road (Rt. 648). Drive approximately 1.5 miles to first stop sign. Continue through the Route 532 stop sign (Nixon's General Store on the left and Russo's farm store on the right), on Carranza Rd. in Tabernacle. After a couple of miles of sparsely settled farm land and small affluent developments you will enter the Wharton State Forest. Go Past the turnoff for the old NJ Correctional System Boot Camp and continue another 1.8 Miles. The Carranza Memorial site will be in a clearing on your right.

From the South:

Route 206 North out of Hammonton. About 2 miles short of the Red Lion Circle (206/70) turn right onto Medford Lakes/Chatsworth Road (Rt. 532). Drive approximately 1 mile to first stop sign. Make a right onto Carranza Road (Rt. 648). After a couple of miles of sparsely settled farm land and small affluent developments you will enter the Wharton State Forest. Go Past the turnoff for the old NJ Correctional System Boot Camp and continue another 1.8 Miles. The Carranza Memorial site will be in a clearing on your right.

From the West:

Route 70 East to the Red Lion Circle(206/70). Continue 1/4 of the way around the circle onto 206 south for about 1 mile. Bear left off 206 onto Carranza Road (Rt. 648). Drive approximately 1.5 miles to first stop sign. Continue through the Route 532 stop sign (Nixon's General Store on the left and Russo's farm store on the right), on Carranza Rd. After a couple of miles of sparsely settled farm land and small affluent developments you will enter the Wharton State Forest. Go Past the turnoff for the old NJ Correctional System Boot Camp and continue another 1.8 Miles. The Carranza Memorial site will be in a clearing on your right.

From the East:

Route 70 West to the Red Lion Circle (206/70). Proceed 3/4 of the way around the circle onto 206 south for about 1 mile. Bear left on Carranza Road (Rt. 648). Continue through the Route 532 stop sign (Nixon's General Store on the left and Russo's farm store on the right), on Carranza Rd. in Tabernacle. After a couple of miles of sparsely settled farm land and small affluent developments you will enter the Wharton State Forest. Go Past the turnoff for the old NJ Correctional System Boot Camp and continue another 1.8 Miles. The Carranza Memorial site will be in a clearing on your right.

The Story of Captain Emilio Carranza Rodriguez

"THE MARTYR AVIATOR OF MEXICO"

as told by Ismael Carranza - Second Cousin of Captain Emilio Carranza Rodriguez - ©2001 All rights reserved.

Captain Emilio Carranza is a classic example of a valiant hero with faith in his ideals, because his own conviction provided a super human force even when this young man found himself alone and desperate. He faced up to conquest of triumph and its glory, sacrificing himself as a martyr, he left as witness for ever his ideals, which survived his physical death: his spiritual testimony and gallantry in search of triumph. That is why he is still considered the greatest hero of Mexican Aviation.

Emilio Carranza Rodriguez was born in Villa Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila, the 9th of December of 1905, son of Mr. Sebastian Carranza and Mrs. Maria Rodriguez. He was the grand nephew of Don Venustiano Carranza, First Commandant of the Constitutional Army who became First Constitutional President of the Mexican Republic. He was also a nephew to General Alberto Salinas Carranza a pioneer in Mexican aviation and founder of the Mexican Air Force school of aviation.

At the beginning of 1911 the Carranza family was forced to abandon their country and moved to San Antonio, Texas.

At the end of a triumphant Mexican revolution Mr. Sebastian Carranza and his family moved back to Mexico City. In 1917, with all the aviation manufacturing plants and shops, and the National school of aviation, Emilio Carranza at the young age of 12, hung around every day at the Balbuena airport with his uncle General Alberto Salinas Carranza. His inquisitive spirit and observing mind made him mix among pilots, mechanics, technicians and airplanes; without missing any details he learned from all of them. This is where his vocation as a pilot started but he had to wait some years until he could qualify age wise, to meet the requirements of the school of aviation.

After the death of President Venustiano Carranza, Emilio's family had to migrate once more to the United States. They moved to Eagle Pass, Texas where he finished his high school.

Once again back in Mexico City, Emilio Carranza applied and was accepted in the Military School of Aviation the 2nd of July 0f 1923. He proved himself to be an excellent student and graduated with honors. The 14th of January 1926 he was commissioned as a lieutenant of the Mexican Air Force. A few months later he went to the United States to buy an airplane which he intended to use for long distance flights. The 20th of June 1926, he acquired in Chicago Illinois a Lincoln Standard airplane with a 180 horsepower Heso engine. He projected a flight to Mexico City following this route: Chicago, Moline, St. Joseph, Kansas City, Wichita, Oklahoma City, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Laredo, Monterey, San Luis Potosi, and Mexico City. After departing Oklahoma City he was forced to make an emergency landing for lack of fuel and in trying to avoid a lady on his landing path he veered his airplane into some trees where he and his brother were injured seriously. His brother being his mechanic fixed the airplane and they finished their flight to Mexico City.

Three months after arriving in Mexico City, he was assigned to The Yaqui Campaign where he distinguished himself in the State of Sonora and was promoted to Captain. Trying to realize his dream of long distance flights, he found some abandoned airplanes that the Mexican Air Force would no longer fly because they were made of 100% wood. He supervised the repair of the best airplane and installed a 185 hp BMW engine. After testing it and satisfied that he could fly a long distance flight he named it " Coahuila " and announced that he was ready to fly a nonstop flight between Mexico City and Ciudad, Juarez.

This announcement aroused many eyebrows because it was the second longest flight proposed to be flown by a Mexican Pilot. On Friday the 2nd of September, 1927, at 5:50 a.m. the aircraft "Coahuila" departed Mexico City for Ciudad Juarez leaving behind a sense of anxiety and hope. At 8:25 telegraph reported Emilio Carranza passing over San Luis Potosi, at 10:00 a.m. the telegraph reported the flight over Torreon, By Escalon at 12:20 a.m. and by Diaz at 13:00 p.m., at 13:23 by La Cruz, at 14:44 p.m. by Chihuahua, at 15:10 p.m. by Gallegos, at 15:17 p.m. by Montezuma, at 15:55 p.m. by Villa Ahumada and at 16:06 p.m. by Lucero. Victory was about to happen and at 16:48 p.m. the aircraft " Coahuila " landed in Ciudad Juarez. Capt. Emilio Carranza was received triumphantly. His arrival to Ciudad Juarez coincided with Charles A. Lindbergh's and the Spirit of St. Louis arrival at El Paso, Texas where they both celebrated together.

When Capt. Emilio Carranza was invited to the reception at El Paso, Texas honoring Charles A. Lindbergh, a true friendship developed between the two aviators. This friendship was further nurtured when the " Lone Eagle " visited Mexico City on a good will flight on December 14th, 1927. Capt. Emilio Carranza was Charles Lindbergh's official companion while in Mexico City.

If Lindbergh's flight from New York to Paris had broken the barriers and open the technical possibilities of aviation in general, his nonstop flight from Washington to Mexico City had resulted in the second longest flight in the world. This was the goal that aroused the enthusiasm in Mexican Aviation. The newspaper Excelsior promoted the idea that the people of Mexico should sponsor a good will flight from Mexico City to Washington as a return gesture of Lindbergh's December flight. This aroused the banks, soon people from all over were sending donations including Mexicans that had immigrated to the United States, shoe shine boys, students from all over Mexico, bar tenders, domestic workers, street vendors, market place vendors, taxi drivers, motorist and anybody that felt like a patriotic Mexican willing to help such a noble cause, of peace, good will and understanding between our two countries. When Lindbergh heard of the possible flight he himself donated $ 2,500.00.USD.

The committee wanted an aircraft that had been proven and with a range of 24 flying hours. They decided that it had to be a Ryan B1 aircraft (a replica of The Spirit Of St. Louis) built in San Diego, California. The order was made and the aircraft was built and named the "Excelsior". Mexico was now looking for the most serious and professional pilot for this memorable flight. On February 14th 1928, the newspaper Excelsior invited by telegraph Capt. Emilio Carranza for this sensational flight from Mexico to Washington, D.C.. Carranza was at this time assigned to a military operation in the Guadalajara Jalisco Plasa against rebels of that region. His answer to the Excelsior news paper was in text as follows:

".............Received your kind message of "Excelsior" and the difference that this important daily has taken and served upon me, I am indeed honored to address you first, to manifest my appreciation for this indicated favor, and also to let you know that I am very moved and my best wishes to cooperate enthusiastically for the success of your notable business.

Having accepted this memorable flight from Mexico City to Washington, D.C. Capt. Emilio Carranza and the technical committee that was organized by The Excelsior to oversee the Mexico to Washington flight put their gears in motion. There was a Ryan B-1 aircraft to be built and a runway to be cleared and built before the rainy season arrived. The engineers and workers worked on the runway to make it long enough for the Ryan B-1 to lift off in the high altitude thin air of the Mexico City airport, while Emilio Carranza monitored the construction of his airplane by the Mahoney Aircraft Corporation in San Diego, California.

It is written that Capt. Emilio Carranza made several trips to San Diego to be present during the construction of his airplane and to be made aware of the most minute details of its structure and mechanisms. One such flight was done as reported by The New York Times in April 17th 1928. He was reported found in the desert of Ajo, Arizona after crash landing the airplane he was flying in route to San Diego. He boarded a train and finished his trip on the railroad.

This crash landing was witnessed by a five year old Mexican boy named Juan Tapia. This young boy was so impressed by Emilio's bravery that he became the most decorated US Army officer of Mexican decent with seven Purple Hearts. His life long dream was to be as brave as Capt. Emilio Carranza. (This is another story that we will cover later.)

Finally The Mexico Excelsior was completed and after several test flights Capt. Emilio Carranza was satisfied and he plotted his flight from San Diego to Mexico City. Every one wanted him to make several stops in route and wanted him to fly in good weather and daylight hours.

Ignoring all recommendations Capt. Emilio Carranza left San Diego, Cal. on May 24th 1928 at 15:20 p.m.. The next word would come from Guaymas at 23:35 p.m. reporting an airplane overhead. The word got out that the Mexico Excelsior piloted by Capt. Emilio Carranza was on a non-stop flight from San Diego to Mexico City. He chose to fly the aircraft non-stop as a training flight before his flight to Washington D.C. On May 25th 1928, all Mexicans were waiting and talking about Carranza's flight.

Thousands and thousands of Mexicans surrounded the newly made runway. No word was heard until 04:00 a.m. on the 25th of May, Mazatlan reporting aircraft passing overhead. The next report came at 07:50 a.m. from Ixtlan and Guadalajara reported seeing the aircraft at 09:40 a.m. By this time 100,000 people surrounded the airport and at 12:06 p.m. on May 25th 1928 Capt. Emilio Carranza landed in Mexico City.

After this glorious flight, the longest flight flown by a Mexican aviator, the thousands and thousands of people at the airport chanted " Viva Mexico " " Viva Carranza " which stands for long live Mexico and long live Carranza.

Catching his breath from this fantastic experience, it was time to start preparing for the flight to Washington D.C. The technical committee went to work on making sure the runway were long enough for the upcoming take off for the Mexico Excelsior with a full load of gasoline. Mexico City being at an altitude of over 6,000 feet and the air being so thin at such altitudes, it was imperative that the aircraft performance would be jeopardized.

On June 10th 1928, there was a farewell dinner for Capt. Emilio Carranza at " Sylvian " It was a modest dinner where Carranza enjoyed the company of his closest friends and relatives. His airplane was fueled and final inspections made by his brother Sebastian his mechanic. The technical team had all the weather bulletins and reports through out Mexico and the United States ready for Carranza's final study. Telegraph stations were manned and look out observers were deployed. He departed the dinner at midnight with his brother Sebastian, his mother and his wife. As his mother and wife squeezed his hand as the final gesture of a good bye, they said to him " Tomorrow will be our day of Glory " He slept for five hours in his apartment at the Rits Hotel and aroused at 05:30 a.m. to make his final preparations for his flight, arriving at the military complex at 06:15 a.m.

Finally on June 11th 1928, a cloud of dust that looked like a hurricane coming from under the Mexico Excelsior billowed into the blue sky as the aircraft pulled away and became airborne at 08:08 a.m. destined for Washington D.C. The crowd of onlookers once again chanted " Viva Mexico " " Viva Carranza ". The newspapers, the radio stations, telegraph, telephones and any means of communication was used to announce to the world that Capt. Emilio Carranza the grand Mexican aviator had departed Mexico City for Washington.

Carranza represents our race who sent him as an ambassador of peace and friendship towards the great city in North America. By 10:00 a.m. every Mexican was aware of the news and followed the flight as it progressed on its assigned trajectory. The first report came from Tulancingo, Hgo... the aircraft Mexico Excelsior passed over head at 9:05 a.m. we were able to read the name on the side of the aircraft. At 09:20 a.m. Huauchinango, Pue... reports passage of Capt. Emilio Carranza over this station heading northeast. Tampico, Tamps... The Mexico Excelsior crossed over this port at 11:00 o'clock a.m. A ship heading for New Orleans reports seeing the Mexico Excelsior flying over the coast line at a high rate of speed. Brownsville, Texas reports the Mexico Excelsior passed Port Isabel at 13:10 p.m. flying the coast line. Galveston, Texas - Carranza flew by this city at 16:20 p.m.. New Orleans, La.. - We believe that Capt. Carranza flew overhead at 19:10 p.m., due to darkness we were unable to read name on the aircraft.

Fog was beginning to cover the earth and navigation was becoming impossible; dead reckoning was his only method of navigation. He was forced to descend from 7,000 feet to 500 feet due to heavy rain and turbulence. Montgomery, Al - at 10:08 we heard a monoplane fly over head, we feel it was probably Capt. Emilio Carranza. Atlanta, Ga.- the airplane flown by Capt. Carranza passed by this station at 23:30 p.m.. aircraft was heading north to Washington. After receiving bad weather reports on his route we were all alarmed and fearful that he might fail on his mission. At 01:45 a.m. we received reports from Spartanburgh, SC that all flying had been canceled due to the weather conditions, although they had heard what had to be the Mexico Excelsior pass by. For hours we heard nothing and the phones were ringing constantly trying to get information on the flight. The hours seemed like years especially when his mother and his wife called asking for an update on his flight. Fortunately at 04:00 a.m. we heard from the Civil Aviation Administration that Capt. Emilio Carranza had made an emergency landing in Mooresville, North Carolina. He had landed at 03:45 a.m. and both airplane and pilot were OK. We were all rejoicing and the reporters immediately spread the news that the Mexico Excelsior was down and safe 300 miles from Washington D.C..

At 13:50 p.m. on June 12th 1928, Capt. Emilio Carranza took off from Mooresville, NC and lands at Bolling field in Washington D.C. at 17:15 p.m. where all the representatives of the world were gather to congratulate the heroic aviator that had come to Washington with a message of peace and good will from Mexico to the United States.

Bolling field was inundated by the world press as well as dignitaries from both countries. The military bands blaring out Mexican music as well as American tunes. Two regiments of the U.S. Cavalry lined up as they saluted the Mexican aviation hero. Capt. Carranza was escorted by the Mexican Ambassador to the Mexican Embassy where he received the first congratulatory wire from the newspaper Excelsior. The wire mentioned the pride of the Mexican people for his achievements in completing the flight from Mexico to Washington D.C., it went on to say that because the airplane "Mexico Excelsior", was acquired by the Mexican people's money, in who this case we represent and serve through our subscriptions, we do here by make you the rightful owner and hope that this airplane will help you achieve higher goals. At the same time we remind you that the purchase of this aircraft was made possible by elements of different social classes with different aims and endeavors.

Mexico joined the celebration in Washington with a sense of national pride. Flags were flying on all government buildings as their occupants demonstrated their jubilation in their own way. Mexican pilots took to the air and dropped flowers all over the city. His first day in Washington was full of great emotions. He was personally congratulated by the President of the United States Mr. Calvin Coolidge and invited by same to a dinner in the white house. He was so motivated by the events of this day that he announced the flight from New York to Mexico City not knowing that it would result in tragedy. The secretary of state Mr. Kellogg and Mrs. Kellogg had Emilio as the honor guest at a dinner on his behalf. The ambassador in Washington, Mr. Manuel Tellez, gave a reception at the Mexican Embassy attended by many very prominent personalities.

Captain Emilio Carranza attended all the festivities with the modesty of a true aviation hero. Noted in history is the fact that after recovering from such a long flight, his first act was to place a wreath at Arlington Cemetery at the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier.

While in Washington Emilio took a flight to Detroit with his good friend Charles A. Lindbergh the American ace, which granted him the admiration of the American people.

On June 17th he was escorted off Bolling field by a squadron of military aircraft and was received by another military squadron as he headed into Mitchell Field, NY. Heading the reception committee there was none other than Mayor Jimmy Walker who handed him the key to New York City. His stay in New York was very enjoyable since his father, Mr. Sebastian Carranza, held a post with the Mexican Consulate. While in New York he was invited to review the troops at West Point an honor never before given to a visiting official with the rank of Captain.

Capt. Emilio Carranza was very grateful for the way the people from Washington and New York City had treated him. Never the less he must prepare for the return flight from New York to Mexico City. He consulted with his brother Sebastian, who was his mechanic, and also with the Wright Co. manufacturer of the engine on the Excelsior. He made plans to leave New York on July 3rd and arrive in Mexico City July 4th. All his preparations were concluded except for the favorable weather conditions.

The U.S. Weather Bureau kept telling him that it was unsafe for him to attempt his departure but his airplane was fueled and ready.

The date set for his departure had come and gone. He found himself frustrated and bored by the unfavorable weather conditions. His true friend Charles A. Lindbergh waited with him at the Waldorf Astoria and tried to convince him not to attempt the takeoff under those terrible cross wind conditions. He made several attempts to take off which terminated in flight cancellations.

Finally after a well advertised departure he attempted to initiate his flight to Mexico City on July 12th. After many Airport Officials and the U.S. Weather Bureau gave warnings and weather reports of a pending electrical storm, Capt. Emilio Carranza had canceled his departure once more and ordered his airplane hangared. The airport officials were relived at his decision and most of them had departed the airport.

Back at the Waldorf Astoria his dinner was interrupted by a telegram that arrived. He went to the telephone and called for his airplane to be made ready for his immediate departure. He avoided telling his father what he was about to do for fear of parental pressure put on him. He knew what he had to do and nothing and no one would interfere with his destiny. His behavior was solemn, he abruptly departed for the airdrome at Roosevelt Airport.

On July 12th, 1928 at 7:18 in the evening Captain Emilio Carranza lifted off Roosevelt airport in New York City, disregarding a tremendous electrical storm in progress. His astonished mechanics watched as the Mexico Excelsior disappeared into the menacing storm.

Silence, deafening SILENCE. The newspaper headline read " Capt. Emilio Carranza departed New York in route to Mexico into a furious storm ".

Nothing was heard about the flight until the next day around 3:25 p.m.on July 13th from Sandy Ridge. John Carr, a young man that was picking berries with his mother and sister in law reported finding part of a wing and alerted local authorities. The wing turned out to be from the Mexico Excelsior. The authorities were mobilized and the death of the Mexican hero was confirmed. When his body was found, a telegram was found in his partially destroyed flight suit pocket. The telegram from his Superior Officer, General Joaquin Amaro, read " Sal imediatamente sin escusa ni pretesto oh la calidad de tu hombria quedara en duda" which means "Leave immediately without excuse or pretext, or the quality of your manhood will be in doubt".

Being the military man that he was, he obeyed the order of his Superior Officer at the cost of his life.

The part that American Legion Post 11 of Mount Holly, N.J. took in recovering his body, is in my opinion,

"THE REST OF THE STORY!"

The Story of Captain Emilio Carranza Rodriguez

"THE REST OF THE STORY"

as told by Ismael Carranza Second Cousin of Captain Emilio Carranza Rodriguez ©2001 All rights reserved.

The Commander of American Legion Post 11 of Mount Holly, N.J. mobilized its members to cut their way through the underbrush and recover the body of the gallant Captain Emilio Carranza. Once the body was recovered in Chatsworth, N.J. arrangements were then made to move it to Mount Holly.

Post 11 used its own U.S. Flag to cover the hero's body, while members of American Legion Post 11 stood honor guard until the US Military and Government Officials arranged to take possession of the hero's body in order to return it to his mother country.

Captain Emilio Carranza's remains were taken to New York City where thousands of people paid their respect to the fallen hero. President Coolidge offered the use of the destroyer "USS Florida" to transport the body of Emilio to the port of Veracruz, Mexico.

The offer was denied by the Mexican government and chose to transport it by train crossing the border trough Laredo, Texas. Several cities requested the train to reroute through their cities so their citizens could pay their respect to the fallen eagle. San Antonio, Texas has never seen a bigger or more impressive funeral procession.

My father, Mr. Artemio Carranza, being Emilio's first cousin, met and accompanied Emilio's body into Mexico City. The friendship and good will that was demonstrated by all of the American and Mexican people and their governments gave Captain Emilio Carranza the title of "Ambassador of Goodwill".

The most amazing act came when Post 11 vowed to maintain and keep the memory of Capt. Emilio Carranza alive by observing through a yearly Memorial Service at the crash Site on the anniversary of his death.

By doing this, the members of Post 11 have maintained and nurtured the friendship and goodwill between the two nations which was the hope and aim for which Emilio Carranza died.

Post 11's yearly Memorial Services at the site of the crash have made Captain Emilio Carranza a legend in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.

U.S. Senator Saxton of New Jersey, in his speech of 1991, called him the first Goodwill Ambassador of NAFTA.

I was honored to speak at the 63rd Memorial Service on behalf of the Carranza family, and I was amazed to see what Post 11 of the American Legion has done and is doing every year to maintain and keep alive the spirit of goodwill for which my second cousin died. In my speech, I mentioned that Captain Emilio Carranza was my mentor, and because of him I also became an aviator.

Even though I was born seven years after his death, I became a pilot and served in the United States Air Force as a veteran of the Korean war. After my military tenure, I entered the airline industry where after thirty two years, I retired as a Captain of the largest airliner, the Boeing 747 jumbo jet for Continental Airlines.

Immediately after my speech at the 1991 Memorial Service, I was handed an application for membership into Post 11 of the American Legion at Mount Holly. Now, I am proud to say that I am a lifetime member of American Legion Post 11 of Mount Holly, New Jersey and a member of the Captain Emilio Carranza Memorial Committee.

It is important for me to mention that the short life of Captain Emilio Carranza, the Lindbergh of Mexico, has impacted the lives of thousands of aviation enthusiasts, as well as children not associated with aviation.

A good example is the life of Dr. Juan R. Tapia who at the age of five witnessed Captain Emilio Carranza crash land an airplane in Ajo, Arizona. He grew up wanting to be as brave as Captain Carranza and he became the most decorated U.S. Army Officer of Mexican descent, having been awarded three Bronze Star Medals for Heroism and Meritorious Achivement, and seven Purple Heart medals for wounds, in combat against the enemy.

Mount Holly American Legion Post 11 Unites Nations With Carranza Memorial

©2001 All rights reserved.

A tragedy in the New Jersey Pines near Chatsworth in 1928 has become a foundation for a program of goodwill between nations - a program largely inspired by the efforts of Mount Holly Post 11 of the American Legion.

One fateful day in July 1928, a dashing young airman, Captain Emilio Carranza of the Air Corps of the Army of Mexico, received the ovation of a huge throng gathered in New York to bid him bon voyage on his projected non-stop flight to Mexico City.

Carranza had been commissioned by his government to undertake a goodwill flight to the United States. Wherever the young captain journeyed, he was received with enthusiasm and won the friendship of thousands, both for himself and for the great republic he was representing.

Captain Carranza had made a glorious flight and now he was ready to go home. All went well for a short time, then over the barren pine country of southern New Jersey, a violent storm arose and the silver wings dipped for the last time. Unseen by thousands of his new friends, the gallant captain crashed to his death.

When news of his death reached the county seat town, the Mount Holly Post quickly mobilized its resources and set out on the 25 mile trek to recover the young airman's body and pay him due honor. A path had to be cut through the dense underbrush in order to carry Captain Carranza's body out. The wreckage of the plane, so well known a sight over many American cities, was strewn over many acres.

In this desolate spot was born the Post's program of international amity.

When they returned to Mount Holly, the Legion mounted a Guard of Honor around the body and was later joined by officers of the U.S. Army until the body was removed by representatives of the Consulate General of New York. A detail of soldiers accompanied the body to Mexico City.

When the casket left Mount Holly for its last journey to Mexico City, it was draped with a United States flag from the Mount Holly Post. That flag hangs today in Mexico's School of Aviation.

On July 12, 1929, a year after the death of the goodwill airman, the Mount Holly Post conducted the first Memorial Service at the place where Captain Carranza crushed - once known as Sandy Ridge, but from that time on known as Carranza Memorial Park. At the first service, Legionnaires made a solemn pledge to conduct a pilgrimage each year to the scene of the crash and pay honor to the memory of Captain Carranza.

They pledged themselves to carry on the purpose of the mission to promote goodwill and better understanding between the two great republics.

As the years have gone by, many societies and individuals have joined the Post in marking the fateful anniversary. The section of Forests and Parks, Department of Conservation and Economic Development of the State of New Jersey, has always been an active co-sponsor of the ceremonies.

It is only fitting and proper that the Mount Holly Legion Post, the pioneer in the field of the "Good Neighbor Policy," should again this year sponsor the Memorial Service which will take place in July, at Carranza Memorial Historic site.

The same hour that this Memorial Service is taking place at the site of Captain Carranza's death, in cooperation with Mount Holly Post No. 11, similar services are being conducted at his grave site, the Rotonda de Hombres Illustres, in Mexico City, by the Department of Mexico, the American Legion. These simultaneous ceremonies show the truly international character of this program.

Each year since the first Memorial Service, members of the Embassy staff have attended, as well as U.S. Government officials, the Governor and other officials of the State of New Jersey, high ranking military men and hundreds of Legion members and Mexican societies of New York City, Philadelphia, and other communities.

In 1933, the school children of Mexico City gave pennies to provide a fund for the monument built of stones quarried near Mexico City and erected by Post 11 on the site where the young captain's body was found.

Mount Holly Legion Post was the leader in a successful movement for the return of the 1846-47 battle flags to Mexico. Through the Post's efforts, the first bill was introduced in our Congress. The return of the flags took place September 13, 1950 at the Rotunda de los Nines heros (Bosque de Chapulepec) in Mexico City. In recognition of the efforts of this Post, the Mexican Government invited the Post Commander and the Chairman of the Carranza Memorial Committee to be its guests and participate in the beautiful and touching ceremony which was precedent in world history.

Thus has the Mount Holly Legion been an inspiration for good neighborliness with our sister republic to the south; tragic though Captain Carranza's death was, it proved, like the Phoenix legend of old, that "We can rise from the ashes of dead selves to higher things."

Emilio's Mission

a speech by Irma Carranza July, 2000 ©2001 All rights reserved.

Dear Friends,

Emilio had a mission 72 years ago. Contrary to what is commonly thought, that mission was not the accomplishment of an amazing feat or even less the desire to become a hero.

The mission was humble and noble. He wanted to repay a gesture of the American Government, made in the person of another great man, in another great flight. Charles Lindbergh had flown to Mexico in a goodwill journey through Latin America. There, in Mexico, both men met and instantly became friends. How could they not, when they shared the same passion, the same character, and the same nobility of spirit.

Emilio was already then, and in his own right, in the path to greatness. Scarcely 22 years of age, he had already flown several extraordinary flights, establishing groundbreaking milestones. But this time the calling was of another nature. Mexicans and Americans needed desperately to improve their relationship; we were so close and at the same time so far apart from each other. Like Lindbergh and Carranza, we also share the same simple dreams, the same simple aspirations.

There was a breach however, and in some sense there still is. For some reason we have not been able to realize that it's easier to make our common journey together, as good neighbors, as good friends.

That was the true goal of Emilio Carranza. Like his flight, his goal was only completed half way.

It is in his memory and in our interest that we are obligated to complete his voyage and fulfill his dream.

Thank You.

His Spirit Arrives Thru The Air

By Juan Reyna Tapia, JD, PhD AJO, ARIZONA, 15 April 1928.

Beneath a blue sky and a scorching sun, a boy was playing on a dust bone-dry patch of ground called a "front-yard". One of those children burned by the intense heat, a product of self-exiled parents from Mexico who persist in living in mining towns located in the center of an inferno known as desert country.

The game that this child played was completely imaginative, without rhyme or reason, and unending in its design in as much as he owned no toy.

From time to time he would interrupt his activities to remain immoble and thoughtful as if imagining something without knowing in what form it would appear. Then he would assume a posture similar to that which dogs take when their ears and hair stand up in order to better understand an inexplicable and superhuman sensation. The child assumed this attitude day after day. It was an obsession which cost him many a whipping because he would not answer when his parents shouted at him to get out of the sun.

"That boy is going deaf!", they would say in desperation. "We'll have to treat his ears with an herb to cure them!"

Nevertheless, the child continued his vigil day after day, until, on this day, he suddenly ceased all his activities, and, tilting his head, he began to hear a barely audible rumor in the sky. With wide-open eyes he frantically searched for the object which caused a shudder of excitement to course through his being.

Finally he noticed something like a spot which traversed across the horizon emitting an incoherent and unsynchronized sound.

The spot appeared to travel nearer and nearer to the horizon until finally, with a last gasp, like a suffocating person, it crashed to the ground creating a dust cloud which quickly rose and obscured the sun itself.

Frightened and paralyzed the child appeared helpless to do no more than witness the agonizing flight of the spot which ended by losing its battle against the gravity of the earth. He remained in this manner looking at the dust which arose like the hand of a drowning person who is going under for the third time. Then, as if awakening from a horrible nightmare, the child began to scream: "Mam'a, Papa', Mamao, Papa'!"

"Oye'viejo', go see what is happening to the child.

I hope that he hasn't been stung by another scorpion or centipede. That mischievous boy gets into everything!"

"What's the matter muchacho'?"

The child would point excitedly toward the horizon and shout,

"Over there, over there, a big bird fell!"

"Don't give me that! Calm yourself! What's the matter with you?"

"A big bird fell, a big bird fell!"

And he continued pointing excitedly in the direction in which the spot had disappeared.

"Oye, 'vieja', do you know what the child says?

I think that he is sun-struck. He says that a big bird fell. Do you see anything?"

"The only thing I see is what appears to be a dust-storm. Nothing else."

"No dust-storm, no dust-storm, a big bird, a big bird!" Insisted the child pointing toward where the dust of the desert could be seen rising into the sky. "It fell over there, it fell over there!"

tisay,'vieja', could it be possible that the child means that he saw a meteor fall?"

"I think that the child has meteors in his eyes from playing too much in the sun. Tell him to come inside."

"Do you know what? I think the child did see something fall because the dust does not seem to be made by a whirlwind. Call 'G'Uero' so that he can take us in the car to see what it is."

In these mining towns any phenomenon served as an excuse to take people out of the their rutinary lives, and it wasn't difficult to gather a few curiosity seekers willing to risk the hazards of the desert infemo in order to witness a new spectacle. Getting into the car they left rapidly in the direction of the area where the dust could still be seen, mixed with the rising heat waves of a burning day. After they had travelled for some time the father gave an alarming shout: "That's not a meteor, it is an airplane that has crashed! Hurry'G'U'ero','we have to get there beofre it begins to burn! It is possible that someone may be trapped inside.!"

The car left a dirt road and entered into the heart of the desert terrain bouncing and bouncing at the risk of ejecting all of its occupants. They took a course directly toward where the airplane was clearly visible with the tail elevated and the nose thrust into the ground like a giant riietallic scorpion. Alighting from the car they approached the airplane fearing to find someone seriously injured. The child then began to shout: "There's a man, there's a man!" But the others saw no one. The plane was abandoned. The child advanced to where he thought he saw someone and placed himself in the shade beneath one side of wing. "He isn't here anymore."

It was then learned that the intrepid pilot was Captain Emilio Carranza of the Mexican Air Force who was enroute to San Diego to inspect the progress of the construction of the airplane named "Excelsior-Mexico", with which he intended to make a reciprocal flight to Washington, D. C. to Mexico City.

Captain Carranza was found wandering in the desert and taken to the nearby town of Ajo, Arizona, where he telephoned San Diego from the office of the Ajo Improvement Company of the New Cornelia Copper Company, later becoming Phelps Dodge Corporation. That office is now a business: "Si Como No.

Emilio Carranza was already well-known by the towns people for his courage and quick-thinking as a pilot, such as the time when his engine caught fire and he flew into a storm to extinguish it. Ignacio "Ni'no" Carrera, who had seen the plane before it crashed, and Luis Rios, asked him if they could celebrate his presence with a "fiesta". Carranza said that they were coming for him from San Diego, and subsequently left that day.

Thus, on a sultry Arizona day, the hand of the mother country touched the spirit and heart of its former inhabitants by means of its eternal hero Captain Emilio Carranza Rodriguez. Afterwards the child forgot his celestial vigil, but would often say: "Someday I am going to be as "valiente" as Emilio Carranza!"

Three months later the sad news of his death when his plane crashed in New Jersey while flying back to Mexico, came floating through an air heavy with tears, and countless villages were shrouded in mourning. For many days, thereafter, the sad ballad to his memory was sung extolling his courage and his voyage of peace.

Emilio Carranza's spirit, courage and love of flight, still lives on in those of his lineage, epitomized by American Captain Ismael "Mel" Carranza, a Continental Airlines 747 pilot captain, who organized a volunteer crew and piloted a plane to Mexico City to deliver vital emergency supplies during the 1985 devastating earthquake.

The American Legion - Post 11
meets at the VFW Post 2692
199 South Avenue, Mount Holly, NJ 08060
(267-253-3639) josephwitts53@gmail.com