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Wolde Selassie, the Eritrean who became an Italian general. A life of primates

Wolde Selassie , known as Domenico Mondelli , was born in Asmara, in the Italian colony of Eritrea, in 1886 he was a man of great records for himself and for Italy. 
He was the first black aviator in the world to obtain a military pilot’s license, the first African to pilot an airplane during the First World War, in Libya, in 1912, the first black Italian to have military responsibilities, the first Italian of African descent (tigrino era) to reach the rank of general in the army and was also the first black Italian to enter the masonry.

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Wolde Selassie , known as Domenico Mondelli , was born in Asmara, in the Italian colony of Eritrea, in 1886 he was a man of great records for himself and for Italy.
He was the first black aviator in the world to obtain a military pilot’s license, the first African to pilot an airplane during the First World War, in Libya, in 1912, the first black Italian to have military responsibilities, the first Italian of African descent (tigrino era) to reach the rank of general in the army and was also the first black Italian to enter the masonry.
A natural child of the then Lieutenant Attilio Mondelli, stationed in the Italian colony, Wolde took the name of Domenico at the age of twelve when he moved with his father to Parma. Here following in the footsteps of his father and Uncle Emilio, in October 1900 he began his military career attending the Military College of Rome to then go to the Royal Military Academy of Modena to get out in 1905 with the rank of the second lieutenant assigned to the infantry, specialties Bersaglieri

 

He was the first black aviator in the world to obtain a military pilot’s license, the first African to pilot an airplane during the First World War, in Libya, in 1912, the first black Italian to have military responsibilities, the first Italian of African descent (tigrino era) to reach the rank of general in the army and was also the first black Italian to enter the masonry.

In 1907 he will take Italian citizenship, according to the Civil Code of 1865, in fact, the condition of military allowed to become an Italian citizen. He then volunteered for Libya, then in Turin in 1913 the apprenticeship to become a pilot in the nascent Italian aviation air force fleet obtaining the pilot’s license granted by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale on February 20, 1914. In 1915 he was appointed by the Ministry of War “Airplane pilot”.
We are on the eve of the start of the First World War and Italy can only count on 58 combat aircraft against the 98 of the Austro-Hungarians. On one of these aircraft, Captain Mondelli takes place on May 24, 1915, on a Nieuport Ni 80 G, a series of surveys on Mount Hermada and Maria Zell starting from the Campoformido airport, on the Isonzo front. . With this action in the territories of Triveneto Mondelli earns the first medal for military valor (bronze), assigned in June 1916 with this motivation: “It gives proof of calm and courage. Disdainful of danger, he was flying at low altitudes » .

On 12 January 1916 he was appointed squadron commanders based in Aviano. He continued his military career in the army passing then to the command of the 67th battalion of the 18th Bersaglieri Regiment, living the experience of the front on the ground.
On 10 October, with the rank of major, takes command of the XXXIII Assault Department “Crimson Flames” of the newly created daring specialties. After the end of the war, a total of two silver and two bronze medals will be decorated with military valor, and awarded the title of Knight of the Order of the Crown of Italy. In 1920, a volunteer sent to Albania at the head of the IX Assault Ward, he obtained his third Bronze Medal.

In 1923 he was promoted to Colonel but in 1925 he left the Royal Army, entering the reserve, because the preconceptions in the military environment of the era were delayed by the promotion, delays against which he will oppose bringing the Ministry of War in judgment and for three times winning the appeal to the Council of State. He will be discredited for his affiliation to Freemasonry, in which he entered in 1912 until he reached the rank of Free Master Mason . 

In 1959 he was promoted, in the role of honor, to General of the Brigade, in 1963 General of the division and in 1968 of an army corps. Finally he was awarded the title of Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic on 10 June 1970 with a motu proprio decisionof the President of the Republic Giuseppe Saragat. He died in Rome, at the Celio Military Hospital, on December 13, 1974.

Source italiacoloniale.com

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