4 Men Killed in Brothers to the Rescue Shoot Down Honored on 25th Anniversary

2 small planes carrying 4 men shot down by Cuban government on Feb. 24, 1996

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The 25th anniversary of the shoot down of the Brothers to the Rescue aircraft was observed Wednesday with a tribute in South Florida to the four men who were killed.

The four men - Armando Alejandre, Jr., Carlos Costa, Mario de la Peña and Pablo Morales - were on a humanitarian mission over international waters on Feb. 24, 1996 when their two Cessna planes were shot down upon an order from the Cuban government.

Their planes were taken down by a Cuban MiG-29 in international airspace, though Cuba claimed they were violating Cuban airspace.

Memorials for the four men were being held at Opa-locka Airport and at the Cuban Memorial in Tamiami Park Wednesday.

The group's leader, Jose Basulto, is 80 years old. He has a bum hip and he’s in a wheelchair but he went to lay flowers at Opa-locka Airport and to speak about the tragedy.

"It's a quarter of a century, Armando, Carlos, Mario and Pablo were murdered by the air force of Cuba," said Basulto.

Basulto and other members of the group and friends of the four victims gathered at the memorial site at the airport, where the Brothers to the Rescue planes were all based out of.

Reps. Carlos Gimenez, Mario Diaz-Balart, and Maria Elvira Salazar, along with Senator Marco Rubio, released a joint statement Wednesday regarding the 25th anniversary of the incident.

"Our prayers are with the families and friends of these four martyrs who were taken from them by this cowardly and barbaric act of terrorism," the statement read. "The Castro regime must be held accountable for its crimes – specifically, Raúl Castro, who ordered this attack."

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