Brigadier General Mihiel Gilormini


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Brigadier General Mihiel Gilormini

By Tony (The Marine) Santiago

Brigadier General Mihiel "Mike" Gilormini (August 3, 1918 – January 29, 1988) was a United States Air Force officer who served in the Royal Air Force and in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II.

He was the recipient of the Silver Star Medal, the Air Medal with four clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross 5 times. He was also the founder of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard.

Early years - Gilormini (born Mihiel Gilormini Pacheco), was born to Domingo Gilormini and Pelrolina Pacheco de Gilormini in the town of Yauco, Puerto Rico. The town of Yauco, where he was raised and where he received his primary education, is located in the southwestern region of the island.

Gilormini, graduated from the Escuela Superior de Yauco (Yauco High School) and in the early 1940s, moved to San Diego, California where he took private flying lessons, earning his pilot's license in 1941. On November 23, 1941, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force with the rank of sergeant /Pilot.

Upon the outbreak of World War II, Gilormini offered his services to the Royal Air Force and served with them. As a member of the RAF, he flew in a squadron of P-39s from England to North Africa and participated in the Allied invasion of Oran.

He served with the RAF until November 30, 1942, when he joined the United States Army Air Corps with the rank of second lieutenant. In October 1942, he was assigned to the 346th Fighter Squadron and flew the P-39 interceptor.

In March 1943, he was transferred to the 345th Fighter Squadron of the 350th Fighter Group in North Africa and Italy, to replace pilot losses. He stayed with the 345th "Devil Hawks" and flew a P-47 Thunderbolt until February 1945.

P-47 Thunderbolt - Type of aircraft flown by Gilormini

On one occasion Gilormini led a squadron in an attack against Nazi positions in Conneto, Italy. During the  attack his P-47 was struck by enemy anti-aircraft fire. Gilormini made a nose dive which put out the flames consuming his aircraft and rejoined his squadron. His squadron destroyed a strategic railroad and vehicles which were transporting military equipment. For his actions he was awarded the Silver Star Medal.


World War II - During the war he was promoted to captain and flew a total of 200 combat missions over England, North Africa, Corsica and Italy. On May 19, 1943, Gilormini was involved in an aircraft accident when his P-39 went down over Maison Blanche, Algiers. In an interview, Colonel Earl Miller, a former buddy and roommate of Gilormini, recalled the following:

"Gilormini was the commander of "A" Flight while I was commander of "C" Flight. We sometimes flew together. In fact, our last combat mission was attacking the airfield at Milano. I led the attack. The flak was real heavy. The 88 shells were bursting all around and also hitting a high bank (we were flying real low) to my right. Mike said, "Dutch, you better bail out, you are on fire!" Followed immediately with, "Don't bail out, it's another guy." Unfortunately, my wingman crashed and was killed."

In 1945, Gilormini was awarded the Silver Star Medal, G.O. (General Order) #27, for "Conspicuous Gallantry in Action" for his actions during the Conneto, Italy mission, while assigned to HQ, 12th Air Force Gilormini and Miller flew their last flight in Italy together giving air cover for General George C. Marshall's visit to their group at Pisa. They both returned to the United States on the same ship. Gilormini was also the recipient of five Distinguished Flying Crosses.

The Distinguished Flying Cross is a medal awarded to any officer or enlisted member of the United States armed forces who distinguishes himself or herself in combat in support of operations by "heroism" or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight. Also, in 1945, Puerto Rican poet Francisco Rojas Tollinchi paid  homage to Gilormini in his poem "Recuerdo yaucano" (Remembrance of a Yaucano).


Post World War II - After the war he continued to serve in the Army Air Corps. In 1947, he was reassigned to the newly formed United States Air Force and named base commander to the 198th Tactical Fighter Squadron in Puerto Rico. On November 23, 1947, the Puerto Rico Air National Guard came into existence as a result of the efforts led by Lieutenant-Colonel Jose A. Muńiz, Colonel Alberto Nido and Colonel Mihiel Gilormini.

Gilormini was promoted to brigadier-general and served as commander until his retirement in 1975. On January 29, 1988, Brigadier-General Mihiel "Mike" Gilormini died in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and was buried with full military honors in Puerto Rico National Cemetery located in Bayamón, Puerto Rico.

Awards and recognitions
Among Gilormini's awards and decorations were the following:
*Silver Star Medal
*Distinguished Flying Cross (5 times)
*Purple Heart Medal
*Air Medal with four clusters
*European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
*American Campaign Medal
*National Defense Service Medal
*Badge of the Royal Canadian Air Force
*Badge of the Royal Air Force
*WW II Army Air Force Pilot Badge
*US Air Force Pilot badge   



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