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Resident Showcase- Mario C.


Lakeview at Josey Ranch Senior Living resident Mario C. was just a little boy living in Mexico when his father took him to a local airport in 1943. At that time, the world was embroiled in large-scale conflict, and Mexico’s military was beginning to support Allied operations. As part of this effort, they were flying a new, modern aircraft, one that was equipped with the latest in cutting-edge technology – the P-47 Thunderbolt.

As he watched the planes tear through the sky above him, Mario’s future began to take shape.

“They had about 20 planes,” he said. “They were impressive. I knew then that I had to fly.”

That dream continued even as his environment changed. In 1953, Mario left Mexico and moved to the United States with his mother. In 1958, he enlisted in the Marines, and though he did not take a role in aviation, he was still dedicated to one day becoming one of the pilots he had seen 15 years earlier.

That opportunity wouldn’t come for another six years, until nearly two decades after he’d watched the P-47s jolt across Mexican airspace during the height of World War II. After earning a commission in 1964, he attended flight school. In 1965, he earned his wings and was assigned to a base in North Carolina, where he was to fly an A6B Intruder.

The A6B represented the rapid advancements in military aviation that took place in the years following World War II. It was outfitted with powerful jet engines and was faster, more agile and more durable than its propeller-driven predecessors. Still, Mario adapted to the new aircraft quickly. By the late 1960s, he was flying it on combat missions as the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War intensified.

One night in Jan. 1968, Mario was serving as an aircraft commander aboard an A-6, with directives to attack a vital railroad bridge in an area that was known to be hostile, with multiple weapons systems capable of taking out an American aircraft. But the mission did not go according to plan. The navigational equipment on board his aircraft failed, meaning that he no longer had guidance toward the location of the target.

Still, he endured, using dead reckoning and radar to locate the bridge, all while dodging intense anti-aircraft fire. He completed his mission successfully, dropping his payload and turning back toward safety, still under heavy fire.

In lieu of his third Distinguished Flying Cross, he was presented with a gold star by the President of the United States.

“[His] exemplary airmanship and resolute determination inspired all who served with him and were instrumental in the accomplishment of this hazardous mission,” the citation said. “[His] courage, outstanding aeronautical ability and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of great personal danger were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.”

Mario’s boyhood dream led him to become a highly decorated pilot. He flew 215 combat missions in Vietnam, earning 19 Air Medals and 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses. Along the way, he learned many important life lessons. The most important, he says, was to be ready to adapt.

“Keep making goals and as things change, accept those changes,” he said.

Sagora Senior Living is so blessed to have residents like Mario! To learn more about your local Sagora Senior Living community visit our website and schedule a tour today!

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At Sagora Senior Living our goal is to be accessible to our residents and their families, our future associates, and our customers. To that end, we look forward to hearing from you.
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