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HEROES AND NOTABLE SAILORS

Commander AGUIRRE Romero, Elías

Commander

AGUIRRE Romero
Elías

This courageous sailor was born in Chiclayo on October 1, 1843. His parents were Carlos Aguirre and Maria Candelaria Romero. The first letters learned them in his hometown at ten years old, his parents sent him to Lima to continue her studies in the capital under the tutelage of his uncles Joseph and Manuel Romero. 

Before his 15 years old, he joined the Naval Academy on June 7, 1858. In 1860, graduating as a Midshipman, is destined to serve in the frigate "Amazon". Four years make their professional practices in various ships of the Squadron, on January 20, 1864 he obtained the rank of Ensign. A serious, competent, responsible, cordial and gentlemanly Officer, reached their immediate promotions without interruption. 

Promoted as Lieutenant Junior Grade effective on November 23, 1865. Next year, the conflict with Spain is exacerbated with the revolution of Arequipa and them actions war come in a phase critical. To confront the powerful Spanish Squad, the Government sends to build in England two armored, the "Huascar" and "Independencia", that were already in the Peru trip. The rest of the squadron was sent to Chile, to meet with them and be United for the final encounter with the Spanish fleet. The powerful Peruvian squad had to add only two Chilean ships: schooner "Virgen de Covadonga" and "Esmeralda" corvette.  

The Peruvian Naval Division, that came out from the Callao heading to the South, was constituted by the frigates "Apurimac" and "Amazon" and the Corvettes "Union" and "America". The command of this force is Captain Manuel Villar, who arrives to Chile with his squad and joins the two Chilean ships under the command of the captain's ship Juan Williams Rebolledo, than for being older than Villar, assumes overall command of the United fleet. The Spanish squad, to the have information about these movements of the squad allied, sends to the South two of its frigates, "Villa de Madrid" and "Blanca", to disrupt these stiffeners war. 

The Allied Squadron chooses the roadstead of Challahue, near the island of Abtao, to wait for the ships enemy. On 7 February the memorable battle of Abtao took place. The Allied Squadron is commanded by Villar, because days earlier, Williams Rebolledo had to go to Valparaiso in the "Emerald". After a rough cañoneo the ships Spanish had that abandon the field to the impossibility of beat to them ships Peruvian that had chosen an excellent position defensive. In this battle found the Lieutenant Aguirre as staff of the "Union", lead by the Lieutenant Commander Miguel Grau. Elías Aguirre was in charge the corvette batteries, and its performance was outstanding directing the fire of his ship with efficiency and energy. 

For his brave and trustworthy behavior in action, Aguirre was promoted to Lieutenant, was awarded Commemorative Medal and the title of "Benemérito de la Patria". The same distinctions was awarded to chiefs and officers who took part in the battle. 

The stay of the Peruvian square in Chile is prolonged and had consequences negative. Showed the animosity of our allied of then, that created situations conflicting, by not say aggressive, care and weighting of our heads avoided that take greater proportions so, on January 16, 1866 the frigate "Amazon", that walked the peruvian flag around the world, to take one of channels to direct Abtao is beached in Punta Quilpué and is lost completely. It was under command of the Chilean pilot Errázuriz, who chose the most narrow and dangerous channel. Months later, the Corvette "Unión" was cannonade from the ground with the same saved of the "Amazon" cannons, placed in makeshift batteries. By fortune, the Corvette not was touched, and is said as an excuse that was an error of them gunners, that confused to the Peruvian ship with an enemy. 

At the end of the war, the Government engaged the services of Rear Admiral U.S. John Tucker, to take command of our squad and start a maritime campaign on the Philippine Islands, where apparently the Spanish ships had taken refuge. This appointment was offensive to the prestige and honor of our experienced and efficient naval commanders, whose protest was swift. This resulted in a collective resignation. The Government acted drastically: accepted the resignations and sent to the transport "Chalaco" carrying them relay with orders of lead prisoners to them rebel to be judged. These, after an extensive prison preventive in the island San Lorenzo, received the sentence, intimidating before effective, attending to the prestige of many of those affected; almost everyone, as Elias Aguirre, were acquitted and reinstated to the service. 
Next year, Peru acquired from United States two fluvial monitors, baptized with the names "Atahualpa" and "Manco Cápac", built to operate on the Mississippi River, and not in the open sea. Slow, heavy and without keel, they had to make the trip from New Orleans to Callao in tow. It covered main excelled of the surface just 12 inches, by which them hatches and air shots should remain continuously closed during the navigation, making of them conditions of seaworthiness a sacrifice. 

Aguirre was named as staff part of the "Manco Capac" and he made all the random trip on them conditions more adverse. Only the great professional ability and the unwavering will of the crews could successfully one of the most amazing journeys of naval history, which lasted 15 months. Arriving at Rio de Janeiro the 'Unión' Corvette joins the convoy, and there Aguirre learns of his promotion to Lieutenant Commander. Then he was appointed commander of the "Manco Capac", shortly after it passes to "Unión" in the same position. During the journey, Aguirre translated into English the "Derrotero del Estrecho" of Captain R.C. Maine, meritorious work which was published in "El Peruano" journal on their return to the homeland. 

Arriving at Callao, the Corvette "Unión" is sent to England to its hull and repair. It goes as Commander Nicolás del Portal and Aguirre as his second. The navigation until Greenhite (England) is carried out in large part to sailing, acquiring their crews excellent practice in that type of navigation. Her stay in England lasted more than year and half; sailed from Callao in September 1871 and returned on July 11, 1873. 

Finished this long journey, Aguirre was appointed Deputy Director of the Naval Academy. In addition to its functions it has at his command the gunboat "Chanchamayo", ship in which the students of the school of cabin boy perform their effective practices at sea. 

The excellent state ship preparation; the neatness, toilet and discipline of their crew, denote the special virtues of their Commander. Unfortunately in one of them numerous travel by the coast north it ship, impelled by winds favorable of Stern, advanced quickly stop is completely in full breaker near the La Punta de Falsa Aguja. The proximity of the night and the lack of means of rescue decided to the irretrievable loss of the ship. Aguirre, after fruitless efforts, managed to save his people and part of the crew of the gunboat, and had to face the serious consequences of the disaster. 

With the fortitude and nobility of character, fully assumes its responsibilities, exempts officers and subordinates all the blame and is notably to receive on his shoulders the entire weight of the law. Its prestige and well won fame of brilliant official influence in the mood of the Council of war, and Aguirre is only separated from the service by two years. He did not fear to appear before the Council; serene awaited the verdict. In the short period that remains in this condition, was requested to navigate in the ships of the company of the Guano. 

To the declare is the war with Chile, Aguirre is presented to offer their services. Is named to the endowment of his old ship, the "Union", in April 1879, as more of orders of the Commander Aurelio Garcia y Garcia. Participates in the catches of the frigate "Adelaida Rojas", the boat "Adriana Luisa" and the transportation "Rimac". On July 28, 1879 he was transferred to the "Huascar" as executive Commander at the request of Admiral Grau. During August and September it accompanies him in his daring attacks on Antofagasta and Chilean ports, until it reaches Angamos, epic that reaches the zenith of its fame. 
In the memorable tomorrow in October 8, the enemy has prepared conveniently them heavy cannons of its armored so to very short distance shot on the Tower of combat of the "Huascar", place where know that is is Grau. So as, to few minutes of started the battle, the Admiral Grau and his assistant the Lieutenant Ferré die victims of the explosion of them projectiles that pierce the tower and exploit in the interior. The Commander Melitón Carvajal notifies Elias Aguirre that the Admiral has died and must assume command of the monitor. 
Immediate Aguirre lead. Resettled the Government of the ship, knowing lost his ship and with them ships enemies attacking by all the sectors of the horizon, rehearses a last resource: the use of the RAM. He ordered over his nearest pursuer, 'Cochrane' collision course. The "Huascar" with their machines launched at full speed, embarked on the ship enemy, that is forced to maneuver to get rid of the attack, passing a few meters from the stern of the ship enemy. Ensues then the fatal outcome: Aguirre perishes in this battle, similar to the Admiral Grau and the Lieutenant Ferré, who met with his duty until the last moment. 

On October 25, 1879 the Congress legislates in favor of them relatives of the martyrs of the "Huascar". On May 28, 1880 it decorates them with the "cross of steel of the Legion of merit" and in 1886, a Supreme Decree States Angamos heroes to pass as being present in the lists of journals of the flagship which will bear the name of Admiral Grau. 

Their remains rest in the Heros crypt, in one of marble sarcophagi of the main ship, beside which saved them remains of Grau, Cáceres, Carvajal, Bolognesi and Recavarren.