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1st Brazilian Fighter Group - 12th U.S. Air Force - Italian Front


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Hello, I'm back!

After a time away for private reasons, I returned to this space that I could collaborate from the beginning and also learned a lot and won many friendships.

In this topic I will present some groups related to 1st Brazilian Fighter Group participation with 12th Air Force in the Italian Operational Theater during World War II.

Formed on December 18, 1943. Its commanding officer was Lieutenant Colonel Nero Moura.
The group had 400 men, including 39 pilots. The group was divided into four flights: Red ("A"), Yellow ("B"), Blue ("C"), and Green ("D"). The CO of the group and some officers were not attached to any specific flight.
The group trained for combat in Panama and USA.
On May 11, 1944, the group was declared operational and became active in the air defense of the Panama Canal Zone. On June 22, the 1º GAVCA traveled to the US to convert to the Republic P-47D Thunderbolt.
On September 19, 1944 the group left for Italy, arriving at Livorno on October 6. It became part of the 350th Fighter Group of the USAAF, which in turn was part of the 62nd Fighter Wing, XXII Tactical Air Command, of the 12th Air Force.

The 1st Brazilian Fighter Group flew a total of 445 missions, 2,550 individual sorties, and 5,465 combat flight hours, from 11 November 1944 to 6 May 1945. The XXII Tactical Air Command acknowledged the efficiency of the Group by noting that although it flew only 5% of the total of missions carried out by all squadrons under its control, it accomplished a much higher percentage of the total destruction wrought:


  • 85% of the ammunition depots
  • 36% of the fuel depots
  • 28% of the bridges (19% damaged)
  • 15% of motor vehicles (13% damaged)
  • 10% of horse-drawn vehicles (10% damaged)


The Group lost 09 pilots, KIA or killed in flying accidents:


> 2nd Lt Dante Isidoro Gastaldoni - May 11, 1944 - Aguadulce Base, Panama

> 1st Lt John Richardson Cordeiro e Silva - November 6, 1944 - Italy.
> 1st Lt Oldegard Olsen Sapucaia - November 7, 1944 - Italy.

> 1st Lt Waldir Paulino Pequeno de Mello - November 16, 1944 - Italy.

> 2nd Lt Roland Rittmeister - November 16, 1944 - Italy.

> 1st Lt João Maurício Campos de Medeiros - January 2, 1945 - Italy.

> 1st Lt Aurélio Vieira Sampaio - January 22, 1945 - Italy.

> 2nd Lt Frederico Gustavo dos Santos - April 3, 1945 - Italy.
> 1st Lt Luiz Lopes Dornelles - April 26, 1945 - Italy.


"They will never be forgotten!" - Victory Museum motto that I am curator.



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Major General of Brazlian Air Force, Josino Maia de Assis Group:



Born in 1919, Bage/RS - Brazil.
Officer of Brazilian Army Military Aviation before the creation of the Brazilian Air Force in 1941.
In WW2 - War name: 'Assis' - Function: Combat Pilot - Fighter pilot and squadron commander of the green squadroon with 41 war missions*.

*Before going to the 1st Brazilian Fighter Squadron - 350th Fighter Group USAAF - 12th AAF in Italian front (1944-45), completed 166 Anti-Submarine Patrol missions in the Northeast of Brazil.


His first mission was in 06 NOV 44. In its 41 mission on 29 JAN 45, was shot down by enemy Flak. Jumped by parachute over enemy territory, having been imprisoned. He was arrested before being released by the Allies at the end of the war.








On 18 Jun 45, came from Pisa to the United States to bring new P-47 aircraft to Brazil.

Brazilian Air Force Aviation Cross Type 'A' with 1 star (for 30 missions)
Brazilian Air Force Aviation Cross Type 'B' with palm (for 100 missions)
Brazilian Air Force Blood Cross
Brazilian Air Force Italian campaign medal
Brazilian Air Force South Atlantic Campaign medal
Order of Aeronautical Merit (Commander)
Merit Santos Dumont medal in Silver
Silver Military Medal for 20 years of service,
Air Medal with 1 Cluster (USA)
Distinguished Flying Cross (England)
Official Knight of the Italian Order of Merit
Presidential Unit Citation (USA)

He was a pioneers of the jet era in Brazil and brought the first jet fighter, Gloster Meteor, from England.

Returning to Brazil, he served for some time in Santa Cruz Air Force Base (Rio de Janeiro), where he became commander of the 2nd / 9th Fighter Group in 1950 and Commander of the 1st Fighter Group between 1954-1955.

He was commander of the 5th Air Zone. Then he served in the Office of the Minister of Aviation and was Military Advisor to Brazil in Washington, DC (USA).

He was attached to the Brazilian Air Force in England, Norway and Sweden.
On 1966, he retired on Major General rank, a total of 7,420 hours of flight.

Death in 1996, Rio de Janeiro/RJ - Brazil
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Great write up, it's nice to read up on lesser known units of the MTO.


Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk



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Great write up, it's nice to read up on lesser known units of the MTO.


Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk



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Major General José Rebelo Meira de Vasconcelos


1st Brazilian Fighter Squadron - 1st BFS
93 combat missions in MTO


Born: 27/09/1922, Rio de Janeiro (RJ) - Brazil

Decorations: Aeronautical Merit Order, Air Force Cross - A Ribbon and 3 stars, Italy Campaign, South Atlantic Campaign, Gold Medal for 30 years of good service, Distinguished Flying Cross (USA), Air Medal with 4 OLC (USA), Croix de Guerre with 1 palm (France), and Presidential Unit Citation (USA).






In 1947, then Captain Meira, leading a group of FAB Airmen Officers, became, in the State of Arizona, USA, the First Pilot of Brazilian Fighter to fly a Jet Fighter, a Lockheed P-80 .



Death: 03/30/2013, Rio de Janeiro (RJ) - Brazil



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Lt General Rui Barbosa Moreira Lima

Born: 12/06/1919, Colinas (MA) - Brazil


Pilot of the green squadron with 94 combat missions.












Death: 08/13/2013, Rio de Janeiro (RJ) - Brazil



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Interesting that the Captain Meira, The "Kid", prioritized the US and France decorations, including the USAAF pilot badge, by the regulation the Brazilians should come first.


Nice Post, Ricardo.

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WOW! Beautiful grouping! Are any of his US Decorations named?



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WOW! Beautiful grouping! Are any of his US Decorations named?




Hi Kurt,


All DFC and AM are not named, but the Lt Col Nero Moura Bronze Star* have:






*This medal is not with us - Today it is at the Aerospace Museum in Rio de Janeiro.



The Legion of Merit of the commander Nero Moura of this unit has its initials (I do not have an image now).




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Interesting that the Captain Meira, The "Kid", prioritized the US and France decorations, including the USAAF pilot badge, by the regulation the Brazilians should come first.


Nice Post, Ricardo.


Hi Berzotti,


At the time of Lt Meira marriage, there was no Brazilian Air Force regulation for the medals, but they placed them in order of receipt and / or personal importance.





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Now the Brigadier General Nero Moura group.






He was the commander of this Brazilian unit in the MTO.


He was born in Cachoeira do Sul-RS, Brazil, on January 30, 1910.


In 1927, he was admitted as Cadet at the Military School of Realengo, in Rio de Janeiro. The following year he was transferred to the School of Military Aviation in Campo dos Afonsos, where he completed the studies of Officer Aviador of the Army. Promoted to Second Lieutenant in January of 1931, his first missions were in the Military Air Mail.

During the Brazilian Revolution in 1932 he participated on the side of legal forces, performing reconnaissance, bombing and ground attack flights in the Paraíba Valley region.


In 1934, he was sent to the course of air observer at the École d'Application de L'Air at Versailles (1934/35), France.

In 1935, he fought against the rebels of the Communist Intent, even carrying out bombing raids against the coup plotters, besieged in the 3rd Infantry Regiment of Praia Vermelha. Soon after, for some years, he was Shooting and Bombing instructor.


Due to his résumé and his relationship with government authorities, he was nominated for Brazilian President Getulio Vargas' pilot, a post he held for some time.

With the beginning of the Second World War in 1939, the Brazilian Government was concerned with the creation of a Ministry that centralized matters related to Aeronautics. Thus, Captain, as a trusted person of the President, Nero Moura can contribute to the creation, on January 20, 1941, of the Ministry of Aeronautics and the Brazilian Air Force, separated from the Army and Navy.

In August 1942, Brazil declared war on the Axis countries (Germany, Italy, and Japan), with the consequent initiative of creating the Brazilian Expeditionary Force to fight on European lands, due to the aggressions practiced by German submarines on Brazilian ships.

On December 18, 1943, the 1st Brazilian Fighter Group was created, with the mission of preparing to participate in the aforementioned conflict, and Major Av Nero Moura was appointed to be its first Commander.

The group has trained in the United States and many patrols in the defense of the Panama Canal.

The 1st Brazilian Fighter Group, whose motto was "Senta a Pua", carried out an exceptional number of war missions, considering the short time there, with the ever-present example of its leader and commander, who, in addition to being an administrator, participated in the war missions on equal terms with the other pilots, having completed 62 combat missions.







After the war in 1945, Nero Moura was appointed Commander of the First Aviation Regiment, based at Santa Cruz Air Force Base in Rio de Janeiro, where he later moved to the Air Force Reserve as a Colonel at age 35, with 5,000 flight hours.

Getúlio Vargas, when elected as President of the Republic, invited Nero Moura, in 1951, to become Air Force Minister, promoting him ex-officio to Brigadier General.


On April 22, 1986, the Brigadier General Nero Moura was proclaimed live Patron of Fighter Aviation.

Order of Aeronautical Merit - Degree of Grand Officer
Order of Military Merit - Grand Officer Degree
Order of Naval Merit - Grand Officer Degree
Aviation Cross - Ribbon A with 2 Stars (more 60 combat mission on MTO);
Aviation Cross - Ribbon B (patrol mission on Atlantic);
Campaign of Italy Air Force Medal;
Bronze Military Medal;
South Atlantic Campaign Medal;
Santos-Dumont Merit Medal;
Silver Medal of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Brazilian Republic
Maria Quitéria Medal
Rio Branco Medal
Legion of Merit - Official Degree (USA);
Distinguished Flying Cross (USA);
Air Medal with 3 OLC (USA);
Bronze Star (USA);
Presidential Unit Citation (USA)
Grand Officier of the Légion d'Honneur (France);
Croix de guerre avec palme (France);
Grand Cross Al Merit - Chile
Silver Star - Chile
Grand Cross of the Condor of the Andes - Bolivia
Grand Croix de l'Ordre National du Cèdre - Lebanon
Grand Croce de Al Merit - Italy
Grand Cross Silver Plate Ruben Dario - Nicaragua
Abdon Calderon 1st Class Medal - Ecuador
1st Class Cross of the Venezuelan Air Forces
1st Class Cross of the Peruvian Aviation - Peru
Bronze Medal - Poland
Knight of the National Order of Merit - Paraguay


Died on December 17, 1994, aged 84.



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Marshal of the Air Eduardo Gomes Uniform (1941-42 used):






He was born in Petrópolis (RJ), Brazil, in 1896.



Joined the Realengo Military School in Rio de Janeiro in 1916.
In 1941, after the creation of the Ministry of Aeronautics, he was promoted to General Brigadier.

He was Major General then appointed to command the 1st and 2nd Air Zones, based in Belém and Recife. He moved to the capital of Pernambuco, where he began building air bases with the support of North American resources. In this context, it fulfilled an important role of connection between the governments of Brazil and the United States in World War II.
In January of 1965, returned to lead the Ministry of the Aeronautics, remaining in the position until March of 1967.
Patron of the Brazilian Air Force.

Some decorations:
Brazlian Order of Aeronautical Merit
Gold Military Medal
Cross of Aviation - Rybbon B (Atlantic Patrol in WW2)
South Atlantic Campaign Medal
Medal of Merit Santos-Dumont

Legion of Merit (USA)

Order of the British Empire (UK)
Legion of Honor (France)
Order of St. Sylvester (Vatican)


He died in Rio de Janeiro in 1981.


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2nd Lt Fernando Pereyron Mocellin Group.



Was born on 06/20/1922, Santa Maria (RS) - Brazil.
He trained in the Eagle Pass in the USA in 1943.

He was one of the first Brazilians to fly with the P-47 in the USA in January 1944.

Pilot of combat of the Red Squadron, having completed 59 combat missions. His first mission was on 09/12/44 and his last on 05/01/45.
During his 24th mission, on 02/02/45, he was WIA by enemy AAA splintering.
Aviation Merit Order,
Blood Cross Medal,
Aviation Cross Medal - Ribbon A with 02 Stars,
Italian Campaign Medal,
Distinguished Flying Cross (USA),
Air Medal (USA) with 02 OLC, and
Presidential Unit Citation (USA).
Upon returning to Brazil, shortly afterwards, he asked to be discharged from the Brazlian Air Force, and returned to the Santa Maria city, to work on his father's Jewelery.
He was the author of the book entitled "Mission 60," where he recounts his experiences during his flight training in preparation for combat, as well as his 59 war missions.
He died on 05/06/2001, Porto Alegre (RS) - Brazil.


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Major Brigadeiro Ismar Ferreira da Costa:


Born: 08/08/1920, Alegrete (RS) - Brazil




Pilot veteran of the 1st Brazilian Fighter Group in Italy in World War II.


Fighter Pilot diploma:
Pilot of combat of the yellow squadron, having completed 34 missions of war. His first mission was on 06 NOV 44 and his last one on 06 FEV 45. On 09 FEB 45, he was removed from the flight due to health reasons (pneumonia). He returned to Brazil on 05 APR 45.
Aviation Merit Order,
Aviation Cross Medal with ribbon Type A (ETO),
Italian Campaign Medal,
South Atlantic Campaign Medal,
Air Medal (USA), and
Presidential Unit Citation (USA)


Lt Col Ismar representing Brazil in the course of anti-submarine warfare made in the USA in 1960 for senior officers of friendly nations:






Death: 04/24/1991, Alegrete (RS) - Brazil


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Another great grouping of Victory Museum - Brig Nero Moura:

Lt General Theobaldo Antonio KOPP - Born May 28, 1918 in Curitiba, Brazil.



Enlisted a Aviation Cadet in 1937, graduated in 1939 Flight instructor until 1942. In 1943 was stationed at Belem Air Base flying Catalinas on anti-submarine patrol missions.



In 1944 as First Lieutenant, volunteered to join the Brazilian Expeditionary Force in the Mediterranean Theatre of Operation.

After a fighter training course in Orlando and Gainsville, Florida, he joined his outfit - 1st Brazilian Fighter Squadron - in Aguadulce, Panama, where the training continued, attached to the US 6th Air Force participating in the Canal Defense, Flying P-40's.






In July the whole Squadron was transferred to Suffolk County Air Base, Long Island to be trained in the P-47. In November 1944 he began flying combat missions from his Squadron's base in Tarquinia, Italy, attached to the US 350th Fighter Group.






He flew 57 ground attack missions destroying supply routes, ammunition depots, bridges, railroads and was shot down by 30 and 20mm flack on his last mission, March 7th, 1945.
He stayed with the italian partisans in the Paco Valley until the allied offensive at the end of April.

Air Force Cross (Ribbon Type A and B )
Air Force Italian Campaign Medal,
Air Force South Atlantic Patrol Medal,
Air Medal with two OLC (USA),
Presidential Unit Citation (USA),
Distinguished Flying Medal (UK).
In 1949, as Major, he graduated in Communication Engineering at the Army Engineering School. In 1951 and 1952 he acted as Brazilian representative in the Air Navigation Commission of ICAO, Montreal, Canada.
In 1961, he retired as Brigadier General and after two years as maintenance manager of an airline he joined the telephone business. Presently he is President of the Telephone Co. of the State of Minas Gerais.
He flew about 5,000 hours, 350 of which in P-47.




He died on September 16, 1996 at the age of 78.



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Lt John Richardson Cordeiro e Silva




He was born on September 29, 1922, in Rio de Janeiro city, Brazil.


Declared official aviator in 1943.


He completed his training in Panama, in Suffolk, USA, in preparation for the war in Europe.




He was combat pilot of the blue squadron in Italy.


He was shot down on November 6, 1944, when he attacked an artillery position on the outskirts of Bologna, integrated a squadron of four planes of the 345th North American Fighter Squadron.



The Brazil lost its first pilot in war operations...

Cross of Bravery - Medal intended for war missions, created by Decree-Law No. 7,454, of April 10, 1945, amended by Decree-Law No. 8,901, of January 24, 1946, and regulated by Decree No. 20,497 of 24 of January of 1946. This medal is destined to military of the active one and the reserve of the Aeronautics that have distinguished by an exceptional act of bravery. To this day, the "Cross of Bravery" was awarded to five Brazilian Airmen-Officers who died in the Italian Campaign, attacking military objectives: Captains-Aviators Luiz Lopes Dorneles, Aurélio Vieira Sampaio and João Mauricio Campos de Medeiros, First Lieutenant-Aviator John Richardson Cordeiro e Silva and Second Lieutenant-Aviator (RC) Frederico Gustavo dos Santos.
Cross of Blood - Medal for warfare missions, created by Decree-Law No. 7,454, of April 10, 1945, amended by Decree-Law No. 8,901, of January 24, 1946, and regulated by Decree No. 20,497 of 24 January 1946. Brazilian Air Force soldiers or Brazilian civilians serving in the FAB and who efficiently performed the war missions and were injured in action against the enemy are graced with the "Blood Cross." This medal was awarded to 13 Brazilian Airmen-Officers, among those who participated in the Italian Campaign.
Aviation Cross - "Ribbon Type A" - Among the Officers who carried out war missions in Italy as pilots, the "Cross of Aviation" with a palm was awarded to an Officer-Aviator; the one of three stars, the 13 Officers-Aviators; the one of two stars, to seven Officers-Aviators; the one of a star, the 21 Officers; and the simple, to 16 Flight Officers, according to the number of war missions carried out.
Note: The difference between "Ribbon A" or "Ribbon B", is according to the mission performed: in Italy (type A) or in the Brazilian coast patrol (type B).
South Atlantic Campaign Medal - Brazilian Air Force Medal awarded to military personnel and civilians who have provided good service to the Force in its actions in the South Atlantic, in the preparation and performance of missions executed from 1942 to 1945. It was created by Law No. 497/48 and regulated by Decree No. 26.550 / 49 to award "those who cooperated in the surveillance of the coast, in the air transport of personnel and equipment necessary for the success of the campaign, in the services related to flight safety and the efficiency of aircraft operations commercial and military. "
Air Medal - Posthumous (USA).
Presidential Unit Citation (USA).











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Fantastic! Such a pleasure to see such an historic story such as this. Thank you so much for sharing. Cheers!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Lt Danilo Moura

War Name: Danilo
Function: Combat Pilot


Born: 06/30/1916, Cachoeira do Sul (RS) - Brazil
Decorations: Brazilian Order of Aeronautic Merit, Blood Cross, Aviation Cross - Ribbon Type A (ETO), Italy Campaign Medal, Air Medal (USA), and Presidential Unit Citation (USA).


Danilo (scheduled) going to the USA in 1942 with other Brazilians - They had won a scholarship to be a pilot.


Danilo (right) at Plains Airways Inc. in Cheyenne - Wyoming, USA:




BAAF - Bruning Army Air Field - It was a flight training facility of the United States Army Air Force used during World War II and located in north-eastern Thayer County, Nebraska.
Bruning AAF was one of the eleven USAAF training airfields during World War II in Nebraska. The airfield was built in 1942.
The base was activated on March 18, 1943 and dedicated on August 28, 1943. The first unit arrived for training on August 2, 1943.
Bruning AAF was under the command of Second Air Force Headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and provided the final training for the Consolidated B-24 Liberator Heavy Bombers and Republic P-47 Thunderbolt Fighter-Bombers.
Twelve bomb squadrons and nine fighter squadrons completed field proficiency training before receiving orders for overseas combat missions. Full engine and fuselage repairs were available for the B-24 bombers and the P-47 fighters attached to Bruning AAF.
There they trained more than 5,000 pilots and mechanics for the war effort.
Danilo when he was in the "Aviation Cadet Pilot Training Program" of the "Army Air Forces Training Command" in 1943.
After this training he joined with the 1st Brazilian Fighter Group in 1944 in the USA already piloting P-47.


In Italy it was Pilot of combat of the green squad, and accumulating the function of head of the garage of vehicles, having carried out 11 missions of war.

His first mission was on 19 NOV 44.
When it fulfilled its 11 mission, in 04 FEV 45, it was shot down by the enemy AAé to the SO of the city of Treviso, Italy, it jumped of parachute the very low height, having touched the soil seconds after the opening of his parachute.
He fell asleep and in the violence of the impact he bit his tongue causing difficulty speaking. He was rescued and hidden by sympathizers. Tired of the life of hiding, he decided to try to return the friendly lines. Contrary to all the instructions regarding the escape, he was able to return the friendly lines walking and cycling, more than 340 km, using the daylight and the main roads.
His story has been told many times in books and magazines. Danilo was the younger brother of the commander Nero Moura.
When he returned to Pisa, he continued as chief of the garage, but he could not do any more warfare, for if he were again shot down and taken prisoner, he could be considered by the enemy as a spy and would certainly be executed. For his feat, his colleagues did the "Danilo's Opera" - Every year sung and reencountered by students graduating from the Brazilian Air Force Aviation School.


Upon his return to Brazil, he applied for a discharge from the FAB and joined the PANAIR company in Brazil, where he served as a pilot for many years, arriving at the Pilot Station, flying as Commander of the Douglas DC6-C aircraft. Danilo was extremely good-humored and was regarded as one of the most esteemed commanders of the entire fleet. With the extinction of PANAIR of Brazil, it was to be a farmer.


Death: 05/14/1990, Rio de Janeiro (RJ) - Brazil

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Lt Raymundo da Costa Canário


War Name: Canário
Function: Combat Pilot


Born: 05/02/1926, Rio de Janeiro (RJ) - Brazil
Decorations: Brazilian Aeronautical Merit Order, Aviation Cross - Ribbon Type A (ETO) with two stars, Italy Campaign Medal, Air Medal with two OLC (USA), and Presidential Unit Citation (USA).


On 01/04/45, arrived in Pisa, coming directly from the United States Pilot School.






Pilot of combat of the yellow squadron, having completed 51 war missions.


His first mission was on 01/20/45 and his last on 05/01/45.


During his 14th mission on 02/15/45, he was shot down by the enemy's Flak, having parachuted into the "no man's land", just in Front of the Brazilian Expedicionary Forces (BEF) having been rescued by a Brazlian Infantry patrol.




Returned on the same day to the Base of Pisa. The next day, early, he was already on a new war mission.


He was able to return with half a wing of a mission after hitting a factory chimney after an attack dive!


After War, upon returning to Brazil, he left the Air Force to be a Civil Pilot. Later, he transferred to the VARIG, where he was Commander of international flights, having done more than 25,000 flight hours when retiring.


Death: 01/13/1997, Rio de Janeiro (RJ) - Brazil


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