The Miami Herald
 Sun, May 17, 2009

Pedro Pan experience painful, but worth it


NAME: Frank Angones
DATE OF ARRIVAL: June 13, 1961

For Frank Angones, Operation Pedro Pan was a painful four-month separation from his parents.

''When they sent me, it was with the idea that they would be following me the next week,'' said Angones, 58, the first Cuban-American to head The Florida Bar, joining a long list of successful Pero Pans.

When he arrived at age 10 on June 13, 1961, he recalls being greeted by Jorge ''George'' Guarch, the Catholic church employee assigned to meet the kids at Miami International Airport.

''He was the first face I saw when I got out off the plane. I remember he told me: My name is ``George.'' I remember he spoke English so well it confused me. I didn't know if he was Cuban or American.''

Angones and the other children arriving that day, where driven by Guarch to the Kendall camp.

''I remember when I arrived it was late at night and they gave us some cookies and milk. Then they took us to the barracks. I remember I had to sleep on a top bed. I had never seen a bunk bed in my life. I remember the whole night I was worried I would fall off,'' he said.

For weeks, Angones said he cried himself to sleep at night.

''I missed my parents terribly,'' he said.

Angones was lucky; he reunited with his parents quickly.

``I think the majority of the Pedro Pan kids will tell you that under the circumstances, it wasn't a perfect situation, but it wasn't that bad.''

The end result made it all worth it, he said.

''My parents rescued me from a fate that could have led me into a Communist education, then the military, or being sent to Russia for training,'' he said.

After his parents, Francisco and Maria, arrived, they became foster parents for other Pedro Pan kids, he said.

''My parents ended up taking in about 30 foster kids, sometimes boys, sometimes girls. That's how they paid back,'' Angones said.