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201st Squadron: The Aztec Eagles by Gustavo Vazquez-Lozano

Discussion in 'The Pacific and CBI' started by ColHessler, May 10, 2022.

  1. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

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    This is the true story of the 201 Fighter Squadron of the Mexican Air Force, officially known as the Mexican Expeditionary Air Force. This handful of fighting men represented their country in the Philippine Campaign in 1945.

    The author starts off with Mexico's attitude at the start of WWII. They were the only country to protest the Anschluss of Austria to the League of Nations. Nazi Germany tried to influence the Mexican people with propaganda against the U.S. but, in early 1942, U-boats sank two Mexican oil tankers, and propelled Mexico into the Allied camp. Mexico sent observers to the North Africa campaign and then put together the 201st Squadron to actually help the Allied effort to the best extent of their ability.

    We follow the pilots to Texas and Idaho for their training. They deal with racism in Texas but make friends in Idaho. The squadron is checked out in dive bombing, then shipped to Manila in May of 1945. They get hand me down P-47s, and choose the Disney character Pancho Pistolas as their mascot, which is used to this day.

    Some mention is given to their missions in ground support on Luzon and Formosa. We find that five pilots were killed in action and four in training accidents in the States. The men lost were their best pilots according to the American leadership, so the squadron doesn't move on to Okinawa, and are watching a movie when they find out Japan is surrendering.

    They come home to cheering crowds, but after the war very little is done to laud them other than a mausoleum at Mexico City and a school in the village of one of the ground crew. There is also a monument in Manila for the men killed in action that was put up by their fellow pilots.

    This is a nice way to whet you appetite for the story of this forgotten unit, and Mexico's small but tangible effort to help the Allies and get a UN seat. It's unfortunately skimpy on the details of the air actions they flew. We do finish up with a roll call of all the members, pilots and enlisted, of the squadron.
     
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