Rafael del Pino (pilot)
Del Pino joined Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement at the age of 17, in December 1955. He was arrested and sent to prison in early 1957. After his release he went to exile in Venezuela, where he was arrested during the uprising against dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez.
After the Cuban Revolution, he joined the new Cuban Air Force at the beginning of 1959 and began his flying training to become a fighter pilot. In April 1961, he flew against CIA-sponsored armed forces in the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Flying a Lockheed T-33 jet, he shot down two Douglas B-26 Invaders and sunk several enemy vessels. During the three-day battle, Rafael del Pino flew 25 combat missions. As a result of the decisive role of Cuban pilots during this historic event, president Fidel Castro declared them "Heroes of Playa Giron".
In October 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, General Rafael del Pino was assigned to assist President Fidel Castro in all matters regarding the Air Force.
In 1987, Del Pino's antagonism with Fidel Castro regime reached the maximum level and he decided to break with the regime on May 28 of that year, flying in an Aero Caribbean twin engine Cessna 402 to Key West, Florida, with all of his family.
Del Pino thereafter has become an active promoter of Western democracy for Cuba. For that purpose he founded in 1996 the "Cuban American Military Counsel" (CAMCO) with former opponent Erneido Oliva, second military leader of the 2506 Brigade in the Bay of Pigs invasion.
- 1965 Graduated from the Gagarin Air Force Academy in the Soviet Union.
- 1965-1968 Commander of the Air Force and Air Defenses Eastern Cuban Region.
- 1969 First round of duties in North Vietnam as an adviser.
- 1975 Second round of duties. This time with the Viet Cong in Da-Nang and Saigon.
- 1975-1977 Commander in Chief of the first Cuban Air Force Expeditionary Force in Africa in the Angolan War.
- 1983 Promoted to Brigadier General
- 1984 Commander of the special program “Masters of Air Combat” (Equivalent to Red Flag in USA)
- 1985 Promoted to Deputy Chief of the Cuban Air and Air Defense Force (DAAFAR)
- 1986 Becomes one of the main critics of the Cuban military intervention in Africa.
- Wyden (1979), p.251
- Urribarres, Ruben. "Cuban Aviators, II Part • Rafael Del Pino Diaz". Cuban Aviation. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
- Wyden, Peter. 1979. Bay of Pigs - The Untold Story. Simon and Schuster. New York. ISBN 0-671-24006-4 ISBN 0224017543 ISBN 978-0-671-24006-6
|This biographical article about a Cuban activist is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|