Brigadier-General Mihiel “Mike” Gilormini (August 3, 1918 – January 29, 1988) born in Yauco, Puerto Rico, 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.
Upon the outbreak of World War II, Gilormini offered his services to the Royal Air Force and served with them 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. 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.”
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 awarded a Silver Star Medal and 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.
[Source: Nationmaster.com; Courtesy Wayne Saunders]