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Candelaria was born in El Paso, Texas. He served in the US Army Air Corps and the Air Force.Candelaria's family moved from Texas to southern California when he was six weeks old. As a child he liked to read about flying and aerial combat in WWI.Lockheed built the P-38 Lightning and that became his favorite plane. Candelaria wanted to be a fighter pilot. He went to University of Southern California to get two years of college. He had already enlisted in the Air Force. When he started his third year of college he got orders to report for duty on 3 January 1943.He was sent to Nashville, Tennessee for classification where he was classified as a pilot trainee. He then went to to Santa Ana, California for pre-flight school then Oxnard, California to Miraloma Flight Academy for primary flight training.Candelaria had a great instructor at Miraloma. He learned so well that his instructor recommended him for fighter training.He wanted to fly P-38s but his instructor suggested that he fly the P-51 Mustang.After primary flight training came basic flight training in Chico, California . He then went to Williams Field, Arkansas where he learned to fly twin engine planes like the Curtiss AT-9.Candelaria graduated at Williams Field and commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. He thought that from there he would go to combat but he was instead sent to Luke Field [Annotator's Note: Luke Field, outside Phoenix, Arizona] as an instructor teaching instrument flying and gunnery. There were P-40 Warhawk fighters at Luke Field.When a call went out for fighter pilots he volunteered. He was sent to Harding Field in Baton Rouge, Louisiana then to Colorado Springs, Colorado to complete his training.Candelaria boarded a ship in New Jersey. When the pilots were told to buy wool equipment he knew he was going to Europe. He was happy to be going to Europe instead of the Pacific.Candelaria ended up at RAF Wattisham [Annotator's Note: Royal Air Force Wattisham station] in the 479th Fighter Group, 435th Fighter Squadron, 65th Fighter Wing.Their mission was escort. They were originally equipped with P-38s but transitioned to P-51s. When they transitioned their kill ratio went up. When they would return from a mission they could see the damaged bombers straggling behind and would ask permission to drop back to defend the crippled bombers against Focke Wulf Fw 190s.
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