The following release is from American Legion Mount Holly Post 11:
As we journey into the new year, we are all hoping for changes in the pandemic that has changed our lives in so many different ways. Providing we can once again gather in public, on Saturday, July 10, 2021 American Legion Mount Holly Post 11 will host the 93rd Annual Captain Emilio Carranza Memorial Service starting at 1 p.m. There is no rain date. The service will proceed even in inclement weather.
Post 11 has kept the promise made by it’s forefathers 93 years ago, to never forget, to always honor, and to have a memorial service each and every year.
This year marks the 93rd Annual Captain Emilio Carranza Memorial service; 93 consecutive years without fail, hindered not by tropical storms, sweltering heat, or even pouring rain. Post 11 has upheld the promise of it’s forefathers, upheld the honor of Captain Carranza, and has continued to nurture his mission of goodwill for nearly a century.
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.
Captain Carranza had been commissioned by his country to reciprocate a goodwill flight to the United States, after Charles Lindbergh’s goodwill flight to Mexico City. Wherever the young captain journeyed, he was received with enthusiasm and won the friendship of thousands, both for himself and for the great Republic of Mexico that he was representing.
Captain Carranza had made a glorious flight to Washington, DC and then to New York City, but now he was ready to go home. On July 12th, 1928, Captain Emilio Carranza of the Air Corps 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. Due to severe storms his flight was cancelled by the airport officials and the Weather Bureau at Roosevelt Field.
Later that night while he was having dinner he received a telegram ordering his immediate return. The airport officials were powerless to stop him because the telegram was a military order. Captain Carranza readied his plane and took off into the menacing storm. All went well for a short time, then over the barren pine section of southern New Jersey, a violent lightning storm appeared and his silver wings dipped for the last time. Unseen by thousands of his new friends, the gallant Captain Carranza crashed to his death.
When news of found aircraft wreckage reached the County Sheriff, Mount Holly Post was quickly mobilized and set out on the 25 mile trek to search and recover the young pilot’s body. A path had to be cut through the dense underbrush in order to carry Captain Carranza’s body out. The wreckage of the plane was strewn over many acres of the desolate pine barrens.
When Post 11 returned to Mount Holly, the American Legion members mounted a Guard of Honor around the body and was later joined by members of the U.S. Army and the NJ State Police. They formed a circle around the body, a ring of honor, until the body was handed over to representatives of the Consulate General of New York. A detail of Post 11 Legionaries accompanied the body on the long railroad trip to Mexico City for the funeral. When Emilio Carranza’s casket left Mount Holly for his final journey to Mexico City, it was draped with a United States flag from Mount Holly Post 11. That flag still hangs today in Mexico’s School of Aviation.
On May 30, 1929 (Memorial Day) Mount Holly Post conducted the first Memorial Service in honor of Captain Carranza. After the Memorial Day service, the members of Post 11 made a solemn promise 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.
On July 13, 1929, one year after the death of the goodwill airman, Mount Holly Post 11 conducted another Memorial Service in Mount Holly, while a group of members retrieved a wreath of honor dropped from a plane and placed it at the site where Captain Carranza’s body was found. While the ground crew placed the wreath at the crash site, dignitaries from both nations, members of Post 11, and residents of the surrounding communities paid honor to the memory of the late Captain Carranza.
In 1930, the school children of Mexico City gave pennies to provide a fund for a monument to be built of stones quarried near Carranza’s home. The stones were cut and fitted before they were sent to New Jersey. In 1933, the monument was shipped to NJ, then erected and assembled by Members of Post 11 on the exact site in Tabernacle where the young captain’s body was found.
In 1934, construction began and a dirt road was cut through the forest to allow access to the monument. In 1936, the first official memorial took place at the monument which was now accessible by automobile. As the years have gone by, many societies, groups and individuals have joined Post 11 in honoring the fateful anniversary.
Mount Holly American Legion Post was the leader in a successful movement for the return of the 1846-47 battle flags to Mexico. Through the efforts of Mount Holly Post 11, 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 Post 11, the Mexican Government invited the Post Commander, the Chairman of the Carranza Memorial Committee, and several other members 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; as tragic as Captain Carranza’s death was, it was like the Phoenix legend of old, that “We can rise from the ashes to higher things.”
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 on July 10th, at the Carranza Memorial Historic site.
The inscription on the monument reads: “THE PEOPLE OF MEXICO HOPE THAT YOUR HIGH IDEALS WILL BE REALIZED.”
On October 25, 1944 at the Barclay Hotel, Philadelphia, PA. A banquet of 350 prominent people sponsored by the Philadelphia Regional Inter-American Center. The highlight of the evening was the awarding of medals and citations to four members of the Captain Emilio Carranza Committee who were also past commanders. Ambassador Najera presented the medals (Military Order of Merit with Green ribbons) for “their efforts in promoting Goodwill between nations”