Sad farewell to proud sister of tragic Mi Amigo crew member, who called visit to Sheffield memorial 'a joy'

A woman who described a family trip to Sheffield to see a memorial honouring her brother as a ‘great joy,’ has died.

Wednesday, 24th July 2019, 13:19 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th July 2019, 15:05 pm
The Mi Amigo crew

Luz Enriquez was the sister of 2cd Lt. Melchor Hernandez, who was the Bombardier in the Mi Amigo Flying Fortress B – 17, that crashed in Endcliffe Park on February 22 1944, killing everyone onboard.

The family of Luz reached out to the Reverend Gordon Unsworth, chaplain of the RAF Association in Sheffield, earlier this month with the sad news, following her death, just before her 88th birthday, at her home in Los Angeles.

Luz’s daughter, Laura Enriquez, wrote in an email to Rev Unsworth: “A few years ago, my mother, my son, and I had to opportunity to attend a Mi Amigo memorial. Once my mother learned about the event she wanted to attend at least one. It will always be a great joy that we were able to make that trip together, three generations honouring the memory of my Uncle Melchor.

Daughter Laura Enriquez, Sqn. Ldr. Barry Darwin secretary to Sheffield Royal Air Force Association, grandson Darion, and Luz Enriquez

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“Mom died just six days short of her 88th birthday after being diagnosed with cancer last October, which became more aggressive in mid April. Mom was surrounded by family and we made her as comfortable as we could until the very end.

“My mom was always appreciative of all that you did, and continue to do, in my uncle’s memory. My family and I are all very grateful for your ongoing efforts.”

American and British military aircraft took part in a historic flypast in February 2019 to mark the 75th anniversary of the ‘Mi Amigo’ crash, which saw the badly-damaged American World War Two bomber crash-land in Endcliffe Park in Sheffield.

The plane had been heavily damaged by defending Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters, during a bombing mission over Aalborg, Denmark. It is believed the crew took a heroic last-minute decision, upon seeing children playing in the Sheffield park where they had intended to bring the plane down, to steer instead into a nearby wooded area. A fire broke out upon impact, and none of the crew survived.

The Mi-Amigo crew returning from a mission to Germany in January 1944 - (left to right) Lt Kriegshauser (flat peaked cap, sheepskin-collared flying jacket); ‘Mi-Amigo’ navigator Lt John Humphrey (forage cap); air gunner Sgt Vito Ambrosio (‘Castro’ style cap with tool pouch on belt); radio operator Sgt Rob Mayfield, and bombardier Lt Melchor Hernandez (with bags).

The pilot, Lieutenant John Kriegshauser, was awarded a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross for minimising loss of life.

The Reverend Gordon Unsworth said: “I am saddened to learn of the death of Luz.

“We have had some correspondence between us for about 14 years since I became the coordinator of our event of remembrance for the crew of Mi Amigo.

“We have also been grateful over the last several years for her donation towards the expenses of the memorial events.”

Sqn. Ldr. Barry Darwin RAF, secretary to the Sheffield Royal Air Forces Association – that raised the money to establish the memorial to the crew in Endcliffe Park in 1969 – added: “Aged just four I witnessed the aftermath of the Mi Amigo crash - a huge pall of smoke reaching across the sky over our house in High Storrs.

“It was my eldest sister who raised the alarm in our family, after she came running back from a trip to Brownies in tears because she’d seen the bomber skimming the rooftops.

“I never heard anything as I was inside playing, but my big sister, who who old enough to understand what war was about, clearly understood the implications better.

“She saw the plane take its final turn towards the park, where we know it spun into the ground.

“I met Luz on February 21 2010, after she travelled to Sheffield for the Mi Amigo memorial service that year. The service actually had to be called off as I remember, due to heavy snow, so we held a special service the next day instead, and you can see in the photos from that the snow on the ground, just as it would have been in 1944.

“Luz was very pleased to have been able to come over and see the memorial for herself, with her family, and the dedication to the crew and her brother. I know it meant a great deal to her.

“I think it’s fantastic that year-after-year, we, as a city, carry on these memorial services in memory of the crew that died on that day.”