A DC-3 similar to the accident aircraft
|Date||28 January 1948|
|Summary||Fire, originating in the left engine-driven fuel pump|
|Site|| Diablo mountains, west of Coalinga, Fresno County, California, United States |
|Aircraft type||C-47B-40-DK Skytrain|
|Operator||Airline Transport Carriers|
(under INS contract)
|Flight origin||Oakland, California|
|Destination||El Centro, California|
On 28 January 1948, a DC-3 plane carrying 32 persons, mostly Mexican farm laborers, including some from the bracero guest worker program, crashed in the Diablo Range, 20 miles west of Coalinga, California. The crash, which killed everyone aboard the plane, inspired the song "Deportee" by Woody Guthrie.
The bracero program was a series of laws and diplomatic agreements, initiated on August 4, 1942, when the United States signed the Mexican Farm Labor Agreement with Mexico. The agreement guaranteed decent living conditions and a minimum wage of 30 cents an hour; it also allowed the importation of contract laborers from Guam as a temporary measure during the early phases of World War II.
A guest worker program allows foreign workers to temporarily reside and work in a host country until a next round of workers is readily available to switch. Guest workers typically perform low or semi-skilled agricultural, industrial, or domestic labor in countries with workforce shortages, and they return home once their contract has expired.
The Diablo Range is a mountain range in the California Coast Ranges subdivision of the Pacific Coast Ranges. It is located in the eastern San Francisco Bay area south to the Salinas Valley area of northern California, the United States.
Some of the passengers were being returned to Mexico at the termination of their bracero contracts, while others were illegal immigrants being deported. Initial news reports listed only the pilot, first officer, and stewardess, with the remainder listed only as "deportees."Only 12 of the victims were initially identified. The Hispanic victims of the accident were placed in a mass grave at Holy Cross Cemetery in Fresno, California, with their grave marked only as "Mexican Nationals".
The Douglas DC-3 aircraft, owned by Airline Transport Carriers of Burbank, California, was chartered by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to fly twenty-eight Mexican citizens, who were being deported to the INS Deportation Center in El Centro, California.
The Douglas DC-3 is a fixed-wing propeller-driven airliner that revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. Its lasting effect on the airline industry and World War II makes it one of the most significant transport aircraft ever produced. It has a cruise speed of 207 mph (333 km/h), capacity of 21 to 32 passengers or 6,000 lbs of cargo and a range of 1,500 mi (2,400 km).
The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor from 1933 to 1940 and the U.S. Department of Justice from 1940 to 2003.
Deportation is the expulsion of a person or group of people from a place or country. The term expulsion is often used as a synonym for deportation, though expulsion is more often used in the context of international law, while deportation is more used in national (municipal) law.
For reasons never explained, pilot Frank Atkinson and co-pilot Marion Ewing took a DC-3 that had seats for only twenty-six passengers (seven hours overdue for a routine and required safety inspection) for the flight, instead of an aircraft certified to carry thirty-two passengers.Arriving in Oakland, California, after a routine flight, the crew was joined by INS guard Frank Chaffin. The flight was to refuel at Burbank, California, before continuing to El Centro.
Oakland is the largest city and the county seat of Alameda County, California, United States. A major West Coast port city, Oakland is the largest city in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, the third largest city overall in the San Francisco Bay Area, the eighth most populated city in California, and the 45th largest city in the United States. With a population of 425,195 as of 2017, it serves as a trade center for the San Francisco Bay Area; its Port of Oakland is the busiest port in the San Francisco Bay, the entirety of Northern California, and the fifth busiest in the United States of America. An act to incorporate the city was passed on May 4, 1852, and incorporation was later approved on March 25, 1854, which officially made Oakland a city. Oakland is a charter city.
Burbank is a city in Los Angeles County in the Los Angeles metropolitan area of Southern California, United States, 12 miles (19 km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The population at the 2010 census was 103,340.
At approximately 10:30am, workers at the Fresno County Industrial Road Camp, located 21 mi (34 km) northwest of Coalinga, California, noticed the DC-3 trailing white smoke from its port engine. The port wing suddenly ripped off, spilling nine passengers out of the gaping hole in the fuselage. The aircraft caught fire and spiralled to the ground near Los Gatos Creek, exploding in a ball of fire. The investigation by the Civil Aeronautics Authority discovered that a fuel leak in the port engine's fuel pump ignited and the slip-stream fanned the flames to a white hot intensity, acting like an oxy-acetylene torch, burning through the main-spar, causing the crash.
Coalinga is a city in Fresno County and the western San Joaquin Valley, in central California.
Los Gatos Creek formerly known as Arroyo Pasajero or Arroyo Poso de Chane, is a creek in Fresno County, California. Its source is in the north end of Garcia Canyon in the Diablo Range near Benito Pass. From there it runs through Los Gatos Canyon, in the eastern foothills of the Diablo Range, then passes across Pleasant Valley, north of Coalinga, where Warthan Creek joins it east of the town. Then it flows eastward to its confluence with Jacalitos Creek, before it passes to the north of the Guijarral Hills, into the San Joaquin Valley, where it is joined by Zapato Chino Creek.
Oxy-fuel welding and oxy-fuel cutting are processes that use fuel gases and oxygen to weld and cut metals, respectively. French engineers Edmond Fouché and Charles Picard became the first to develop oxygen-acetylene welding in 1903. Pure oxygen, instead of air, is used to increase the flame temperature to allow localized melting of the workpiece material in a room environment. A common propane/air flame burns at about 2,250 K, a propane/oxygen flame burns at about 2,526 K, an oxyhydrogen flame burns at 3,073 K and an acetylene/oxygen flame burns at about 3,773 K.
Initial news reports listed only the pilot, first officer, stewardess, and the immigration guard, with the remainder listed only as "deportees". 84 by 7 ft (25.6 by 2.1 m) with two rows of caskets and not all of the bodies were buried the first day, but the caskets at the site did have an overnight guard.Only 12 of the victims were initially identified. The Hispanic victims of the accident were placed in a mass grave at Holy Cross Cemetery in Fresno, California, with their grave marked only as "Mexican Nationals". The grave is
Singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie wrote a poem in 1948 lamenting the anonymity of the workers killed in the crash, identified only as "deportees" in media reports. When Guthrie's poem was set to music a decade later by college student Martin Hoffman, it became the folk song "Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)".
The song was popularized by Pete Seeger,and was subsequently performed by Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Julie Felix, Cisco Houston , Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Kelly, Martyn Joseph, The Byrds, Richard Shindell and Ani DiFranco among others.
Cesar Chavez, later to become founder of the United Farm Workers union, learned of the tragic crash while serving in the US Navy, helping convince him that farm workers should be treated "as important human beings and not as agricultural implements".
The names of all the victims were published in local papers in 1948.In 2009, writer Tim Z. Hernandez began to seek out the gravesite and those names. With the help of others, by July 2013 all had been identified (some of the names were misspelled in the records), and the money raised for a more fitting memorial. On 2 September 2013 (Labor Day), a Deportee Memorial Headstone was unveiled at a mass in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Fresno attended by more than 600. The memorial includes all twenty-eight names of the migrant workers, which included three women, and one man born in Spain, not Mexico as widely reported.
Cesar Chavez was an American labor leader and civil rights activist who, with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962. Originally a Mexican American farm worker, Chavez became the best known Latino American civil rights activist, and was strongly promoted by the American labor movement, which was eager to enroll Hispanic members. His public-relations approach to unionism and aggressive but nonviolent tactics made the farm workers' struggle a moral cause with nationwide support. By the late 1970s, his tactics had forced growers to recognize the UFW as the bargaining agent for 50,000 field workers in California and Florida.
The United Farm Workers of America, or more commonly just United Farm Workers (UFW), is a labor union for farmworkers in the United States. It originated from the merger of two workers' rights organizations, the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) led by organizer Larry Itliong, and the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) led by César Chávez and Dolores Huerta. They became allied and transformed from workers' rights organizations into a union as a result of a series of strikes in 1965, when the mostly Filipino farmworkers of the AWOC in Delano, California initiated a grape strike, and the NFWA went on strike in support. As a result of the commonality in goals and methods, the NFWA and the AWOC formed the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee on August 22, 1966. This organization was accepted into the AFL-CIO in 1972 and changed its name to the United Farm workers Union.
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"Deportee " is a protest song with lyrics by Woody Guthrie and music by Martin Hoffman detailing the January 28, 1948 crash of a plane near Los Gatos Canyon, 20 miles (32 km) west of Coalinga in Fresno County, California, United States. The crash occurred in Los Gatos Canyon and not in the town of Los Gatos itself, which is in Santa Clara County, approximately 150 miles away. Guthrie was inspired to write the song by what he considered the racist mistreatment of the passengers before and after the accident. The crash resulted in the deaths of 32 people, 4 Americans and 28 migrant farm workers who were being deported from California back to Mexico.
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Pacific Air Lines was an airline on the West Coast of the United States that began scheduled passenger flights in the mid 1940s under the name Southwest Airways. The company linked small cities in California with larger cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. Flights later operated to Portland, Oregon, and eventually reached Las Vegas and Reno in Nevada.
Eliseo Vasquez Medina is a Mexican American labor union activist and leader, and advocate for immigration reform in the United States. From 1973 to 1978, he was a board member of the United Farm Workers. He is currently secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union. He was previously an international executive vice president, the first Mexican American to serve on the union's executive board. Medina announced his resignation as an SEIU executive vice president effective October 1, 2013.
Todd Morgan Beamer was an American passenger aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which was hijacked as part of the September 11 attacks in 2001. He was one of the passengers who attempted to regain control of the aircraft from the hijackers. During the struggle, the aircraft lost control and crashed into a field in Stonycreek Township near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, saving the hijackers' intended target and additional victims.
KUFW is an American non-commercial educational radio station licensed to serve the community of Woodlake in Tulare County, California. The station is operated by Farmworker Educational Radio Network, Inc., and its broadcast license is held by the Cesar Chavez Foundation. Signing on in May 1983, KUFW became the first radio station in the United States "dedicated to the needs of farmworkers".
Los Gatos is Spanish for "the cats".
The 1938 Yosemite TWA crash was the crash and disappearance of a Transcontinental & Western Air Douglas DC-2 on March 1, 1938. During a scheduled passenger flight from San Francisco to Winslow, Arizona, TWA's interstate hub, the flight encountered severe weather and radioed their intention to land in nearby Fresno. The aircraft never arrived, and was found three months later having crashed into a mountain in Yosemite National Park.
Tim Z. Hernandez is an American writer, poet, and performer. His first poetry collection, Skin Tax , received the 2006 American Book Award, and his debut novel, Breathing, in Dust, was awarded the 2010 Premio Aztlán Literary Prize, and was a finalist for the California Book Award. In 2011, Hernandez was named one of sixteen New American Poets by the Poetry Society of America.
Ernesto Galarza was a Mexican-American labor activist, professor, poet, writer, and key figure in the history of immigrant farm worker organization in California.
Poso de Chane or Poso Chane is a former settlement in Fresno County, California situated around the waterhole of that name, northwest just below the confluence of the Jacalitos Creek with Los Gatos Creek, 6 miles (9.7 km) east of Coalinga and northwest of the Guijarral Hills.
Larry Dulay Itliong, also known as "Seven Fingers", was a Filipino American labor organizer. He organized West Coast agricultural workers starting in the 1930s, and rose to national prominence in 1965, when he, Philip Vera Cruz, Benjamin Gines and Pete Velasco, walked off the farms of area table-grape growers, demanding wages equal to the federal minimum wage, that became known as the Delano grape strike. He has been described as "one of the fathers of the West Coast labor movement."
On September 17, 1963, a freight train collided with a bus carrying 58 migrant farmworkers on a railroad crossing outside Chualar in the Salinas Valley, California, killing 32 people and injuring 25. It is the deadliest automobile accident in United States history, according to the National Safety Council.
Jessie Lopez De La Cruz was a Chicano American farm worker, the first female recruiter for the UFW, an organizer and participant in UFW strikes, a community organizer, a working mother, and a delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention. She ran the first UFW Hiring Hall, was an adviser to the California Commission on the Status of Women, and the secretary treasurer of National Land for People. Lopez-De La Cruz is also known for her work banning the short-handled hoe, her work educating fellow farm workers, her work promoting co-op farming, and her commitment to fighting injustice for the working poor.