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<<  Month of September 2016    >>        Submit Event    Exhibits Events   
Saturday, September 17, 2016 | 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM   
Torrance Airport (3315 Airport Drive, Torrance, 90505)
World War II was six years long: 1939 to 1945. It lasted 2,214 days. One day - April 7, 1945 - stands out for Lt. Richard Candelaria, 435th Fighter Squadron/479th Fighter Group and the first Puerto Rican pilot. During the morning of April 7 in England, Candelaria, piloting a P-51 Mustang, was the lone escort for Allied B-24 Liberators. The weather on the way to the rendezvous point was terrible. The fighters spread out for safety in the poor visibility. The American bombers are headed into real trouble. Without fighter cover, they will be easy game for the Luftwaffe pilots. Then a small miracle happens. One of the fighter pilots - Candelaria - works his way through the weather, and reaches the bombers, just as the German fighters attack. Despite being hopelessly outnumbered, this lone American continues the fight. He has bombers to protect. Finally, the other American fighters arrive, and the bomber raid succeeds. Candelaria defended the bombers from at least 15 German fighters, single-handedly destroying four before help arrived. He was also credited with a probable victory on an ME262 (100 MPH faster than Candelaria’s P-51) during this engagement. Candelaria was the only pilot in his squadron to make "ace." Six days later, April 13, 1945 also stands out in Candelaria’s mind: He was shot down by ground fire and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war. After the war, Candelaria served in the Air National Guard, reaching the rank of colonel prior to his retirement. Candelaria was awarded the Silver Star for his heroic deed. It is the third-highest military combat decoration that can be awarded to a member of the United States Armed Forces, being awarded for gallantry in action. Candelaria will give us his first-hand account of that day, and of his life as a combat pilot. You won't want to miss it. Parking is free. Be a part of the WMoF family. Think about individual, family or business membership. Membership gives you one-year unlimited free admission to celebrity lectures, plus the quarterly newsletter, access to the research library (includes membership card) and access to special events. Members also will be listed in annual publications. Support your community’s unique museum and place in history.
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