February 20, 1969

Sergio M. Capablanca


My sincere appreciation for the database project. I am certain it has been a tearjerker for so many “Freedom Flyers”. I cannot set aside thoughts about those who came on the Camarioca and later the Mariel boatlift. The Peter Pan kids of the 60s, the rafters of the 90s and those who keep coming in the new millennium. These Cubans wrote and continue to write indelible pages in the history of American immigration. I will be forever grateful to President Lyndon B. Johnson for accepting Fidel Castro’s challenge when he said, “All who are against the Revolution can leave. We do not want these worms here.”

And so the worms came and after consuming tons of leaves (washing dishes, delivering papers, peddling produce, selling handcrafts, etc) they transformed into beautiful butterflies (entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, clerks, public servants, actors, musicians, etc) sending a firm and undeniable message that the American Dream was and still is alive and well.

For the most part, the Cubans are indeed a bunch of hardworking, witty, and resourceful forward thinking but full of nostalgia creatures. Our contribution to the American society has been outstanding, despite a whole bunch of rotten apples (white and blue-collar thieves, drug dealers, common criminals, etc) that somehow find a way to tarnish our reputation.

By the way, my father and my grandmother are in the list; however, I observed that the majority of the first and last names are truncated. Is it the cell space in the spreadsheet? I know, some Cuban last names could be 30 characters long and if they are compound last names, you will probably need 50 characters within a cell. Please kindly add my name (Sergio Capablanca Rochell) and my mother’s name (Doris Rochell Nogueira) to the list and if you need a date, well… let us make it February 20, 1969. Unless dementia destroys my neurons, that is a date I will never forget.

Thanks for the list. It was certainly a memorable trip for a Freedom Flyer in a Time Machine.


Sergio M. Capablanca

Read more Freedom Flight Memories stories from the Miami Herald

  • JUNE 7th, 1967

    Ana De Los Reyes

    First of all, I would like to thank you for your great efforts in compiling the Freedom Flights date base information. It was with great emotion that I looked up my father's arrival to freedom information.

  • JULY 24 1968

    Miriam Rodriguez

    We arrive on July 24 1968, I remember as soon we were in the plane we heard a welcome from Pres. Johnson, as we arrive in Miami there were a priest & minister to welcome as I will never will forget that day.

  • NOVEMBER 27, 1967

    Ana María Florin

    It was November 27, 1967 when my mother ( now 83 years old), my father (now deceased) and I came to the United states via the Freedom Flight. We planned to come earlier, but the Bay of Pigs invasion delayed our plans since all flights were put on halt.

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