1962 TO 2008
By: Ray “Pelon” Guerrero
Mid-August, 1962, Bob’s Trophy Room Beer Bar and Pool Hall on 1st Street and Mariana, in “El Hoyo de Maravilla” East Los Angeles, California. The meeting was put together by Nacho Reyes, a former WWII 11 Airborne veteran. Also in attendance were two gringos, air to air freefall photographer Bob Sinclair and skydiving instructor, Frank Carpenter. 90% of all other original members were veterans of the famous 187th Airborne
Regimental Combat Team (a bastard outfit of the 82nd Airborne Division). Now civilians, mostly in their late 20’s, and riding motorcycles soon to be exchanged for parachutes, the Latin Skydivers, all of Latino decent, started in the infancy of civilian sport parachuting.
Members in attendance included Nacho Reyes, the 1st President , Ramiro Arras, the 1st Vice President, Tudy Salyandia, John Garza, Arnold, Memo Rodriguez, Art “Abalone” Reyes, Richard “Sluggo “ Rodriguez, and Larry Estrada among 25 other airborne veterans. The club name was voted in on this 1st Latin Skydivers meeting and the minutes were taken by Margie Pizzano.
The second meeting of the Latin Skydivers was at the Club 469 on Atlantic Boulevard in East Los Angeles. I was voted in at this meeting together with Hector Nunez, Pete Delgado, Bob and Mando Corral, Tony Ocampo, Tony “Balony” Valdez and Vicki Guerrero. Hector, a Mexican national, brought in a white main canopy that he had bought, dyed green on the skirt, left the middle white and dyed the apex red. Thus the Mexican flag colors were voted in for all the canopies
Marty’s Cocktail Lounge at Whittier and Lorena in East Los Angeles became our 1st club sponsor and bought the club members green and white jump suits. Voted in were 187th veteran Rudy Lucero, Nato Contreras, Marty Martinez, Ray Serna, Harvey Ledesma, Geno Villalobos, Joe Hernandez, Augie Andrade, Louie and Eddie Melendez, and “Little Rudy”.
The “Mono” (Logo) was born at Chitos Patio Garden beer bar on Olympic Boulevard, at a birthday party for Bob Coral. Lots of Chicano V.I.P.s were in attendance including an artist who had the patio walls painted with this Mexican falling through the air, bare footed, wearing pajamas, a big sarape over and above his back, with a big sombrero on his head, and, sporting a big mustache and smile on his brown face. The Latin logo had been found and voted in. Shortly, large embroidered patches were made and sewed onto the backs of the jump suits.
This club has been featured in various television shows, magazines, and newspapers. We have shared public skydiving exhibition performances with the Golden Knights U.S. Army Parachute Team and the Navy’s Leap Frogs Parachute Team. Other exhibition jumps have been made throughout California, Nevada and Arizona. In Mexico, we have jumped in Mazatlan, the Yucatan Peninsula Cities of Merida and Cancun, and the Baja California towns of Tijuana, Mexicali, Tecate, Rosarito, Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas.
Present members include seven senior members of 35 or more years of skydiving, a second generation of three sons and a third generation of two grandsons.
We are the original and oldest self-supported sport parachuting organization in the world.
Our learning has been from the school of trial and error, and, fatalities around us.
Super Vato Numero Uno