Brigadier General Mihiel “Mike” Gilormini Pacheco was a WWII hero, and co-founder of the Puerto Rico National Guard.
Gilormini Pacheco was born in Yauco, Puerto Rico, on August 3, 1918, just about one year after Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship. He completed high school in Puerto Rico, began his college studies at the University of Alabama, and then moved to California for pilot’s training. In 1941, having completed his studies, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. When WWII broke out, he enlisted in the British Royal Air Force. In 1942, when the United States joined the fray, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force as a second lieutenant.
As a member of the USAAF, he flew with the 345th “Devil Hawks” and fought in Italy and Northern Africa. He received the Silver Star with four oak leaf clusters as well as the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Flying Cross five times, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle East Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Presidential Unit Citation
After WWII ended, Gilormini Pacheco joined the newly-established U.S. Air Force and served as base commander to the 198th Fighter Squadron in Puerto Rico. He was instrumental in making the Puerto Rico National Guard a reality. He was promoted to the position of Brigadier General by the Governor of Puerto Rico before his retirement.
Gilormini Pacheco retired to San Juan, where he lived until his death in 1988. He was buried in the Puerto Rico National Cemetery in Bayamon. Military History of Puerto Rico by Héctor Andrés Negroni reports that his death followed a long illness.
Francisco Rojas Tollinchi wrote a poem, “Recuerdo yaucano” (“Remembrance of a Yaucano”), about Gilormini Pacheco. A monument to him was recently unveiled in his hometown. A section of Highway PR-359 in Yaucano bears his name.
Brigadier General Gilormini Pacheco is just one of many military heroes from Puerto Rico.
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