On the morning of February 27, 1948, a plane traveling from Oakland to the Mexican border crashed in Los Gatos Canyon, California, about an hour southwest from Fresno. All 32 people on board died that day. Twenty-eight of them were Mexican farmworkers who were in the United States because of the Bracero Program.
All the people on the plane died the same way, but in death, they were not treated the same. For the four American crew members, U.S. officials gathered what remains they could, and sent caskets to their families. The remains of the 28 Mexican braceros were not sent back to Mexico to be repatriated or given proper burial by their families. Instead, they were buried in a mass grave under a tiny plaque that read only “28 Mexican citizens who died in an airplane accident near Coalinga.” Even the media that reported the accident referred to the 28 Mexicans only as “deportees.”
These migrant workers were invisible in life and nameless in death.
But now, 70 years later, the world finally knows who they were, and their stories are being told in a book called All They Will Call You by Mexican-American author Tim Hernandez. We follow Tim’s 7-year journey to shed light on this incident—a journey that all started with a Woody Guthrie song.
We first aired this story in February 2017.
Featured images: Ramón Paredes Ramírez (left), Guadalupe Ramírez Lara (right) (Photos courtesy of Jaime Ramírez)
We’ve posted Tim’s full list of the Mexican passengers below. If you or anyone you know might be related, please email Tim Hernandez at TZhernandez@yahoo.com
*Families who have been located
- Miguel Alvarez Negrete, original de Puebla, familiares desconocidos
- Tomas de Gracia Aviña, madre Rosa Mercado, calle Juarez, Tepic, Nayarit
- Santiago Elizondo Garcia, de Cotija, Michoacan, padre Valentino Elizondo, Ocotlan, Jalisco
- Rosalio Estrada Padilla, de San Juan de los Reyes, Jalisco, esposa Concepcion Padilla
- Bernabe Garcia Lopez, de Magdalena, Jalisco, calle Ochoa 248, Tijuana, B.C.
- Salvador Hernandez Sandoval, padre Jesus Hernandez, Jalpa, Zacatecas
- Severo Medina Lara, padre Hipolito Lara, Jua—, Zacatecas
- Elias Macias Trujillo, padre Juan Macias, Esenada, B.C.
- Jose Macias Rodriguez, de Mamalisco, Jalisco, parientes desconocidos
- Luis Medina Lopez, padre Daniel Medina, calle Cinco de Mayo, Monareal, Michoacan
- Manuel Merino Calderon, padre Jose Merino, Calle Once Oriente 213, Puebla
- Martin Navarro Razo, de La Barca, Jalisco, parientes desconocidos
- Ignacio Navarro Perez, padre Jose M. Navarro, esposa Maria Luisa Zarate, Rancho Cerrito, Michoacan
- Roman Ochoa Ochoa, padre Roman Ochoa, esposa Maria
- Apolonio Placencia Ramirez, padre Ramon Placencia, calle Torquemada 77, Colonia Obrera, Mexico D.F.
- Alberto Raygoza Carlos, padre Cruz Raygoza, calle Florida 325, Colonia Noche Buena, Mexico D.F.
- Guadalupe Rodriguez, padre Guadalupe Rodriguez, avenida Republica Brasil, Mexico D.F.
- Maria Rodriguez Santana, esposa del anterior, padre Hilario Rodriguez, de Juchitlan, Jalisco
- Wenceslao Flores, padre Jeronimo Ruiz, de Nochistlan, Zacatecas
- Juan Ruiz Valenzuela, padre Jeronimo Ruiz, de Nochistlan, Zacatecas
- Jesus Santos Meza, padre Sabino Santoy(s), Ahualco de Mercado, Jalisco
- Baldomero Torres Marcas, padre Martin Torres, Mexicali B.C.
- *Ramon Paredes Ramirez, padre Vicente Paredes Villa, Santiago, Guanajuato
- *Guadalupe Ramirez Lara, padre Jose Ramirez Villa, Santiago, Guanajuato
- *Jose Sanchez Valdivia, de Nochistlan, Zacatecas, parientes desconocidos
- *Luis Miranda Cuevas, madre Isabel Cuevas, Fortuna 3, Jocotepec, Jalisco
- *Tomas Marquez Padilla, padre Tomas Marquez, San Julian, Jalisco
- *Francisco Duran Llamas, de Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes, padre Jose Duran