Squad 201; Mexican air combat unit that participated in World War II

Squadron 201, known as the Aztec Eagles, was a Mexican air combat unit that participated in World War II. The squadron flew as an annex to Group 58. combat of the 5th. United States Air Force in the liberation of the mother island of Luzon, Philippines , during the summer of 1945. 201 Squadron served with distinction in observations, bombing and strafing of Japanese positions, convoy vehicles, and artillery emplacements in the Philippines and Formosa . The Mexican Expeditionary Air Force is the only Mexican military unit that has fought outside of Mexican territory.

War provocation

Although at the beginning of the Second World War, Mexico maintained its position of neutrality, in May 1942, Mexican vessels supplying oil to the United States were attacked in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico by German submarines that torpedoed and sank the oil tankers. Potrero del Llano on May 13, 1942 off the coast of Florida , and the Faja de Oro, perpetrated on May 20. Due to these acts of aggression, on May 28, 1942, the President of the Republic, General Manuel Ávila Camacho , declared war on Germany , Japan and Italy.appointing Paul Meléndes Trufis as captain of the squad. The Mexican government, after evaluating the economic and military situation of the country, determined to contribute to the allied war effort by sending a contingent whose performance was significant, without representing a high human and economic cost. Attacks on Mexican oil tankers continued; the Túxpam , was attacked on June 26, 1942; Las Choapas , on June 27; the Oaxaca , on July 27; and Amatlán, on September 4. Meanwhile, bombing drills were held in Mexican cities, there were prolonged blackouts, the mandatory National Military Service was instituted and with the United States It was agreed to send Mexican workers to agricultural fields and factories to compensate for the lack of labor due to the corresponding US recruitment.


By presidential decree, on February 10, 1944, the ‘Military Aviation Weapon’ acquired the constitutional character of ‘Armed Force’, changing its name from ‘Military Aviation Weapon’ to ‘Mexican Air Force’. 1 On March 8 In 1944, the president announced these intentions and during the month of July the formation of the ‘Aeronautical Improvement Group’ was ordered, made up of 299 elements from various units and units of the army, including civilians from the Department of War Materials, to be sent to the United States for training. It was a small unit, with great firepower and almost self sufficient. Naturally, the best Air Force pilots were selected to form the flight echelon of this group.2 The unit received training at various locations in the United States , primarily at the Greenville, Texas airfield and Pocatello, Idaho . During the training, two pilots died in accidents and 6 pilots were also excluded as a result of medical examinations, so the fighting squad was made up of 30 pilots. On December 29, 1944, the Chamber of Senators authorized the President of the Republic to send troops to fight abroad and it was decided that the forces in training in theUSA . became the Mexican Expeditionary Air Force (FAEM), with which the Aeronautical Improvement Group was then transformed into the 201 Fight Squad of the FAEM. The squadron was framed as one more unit within the United States Air Force , although with its own command and flag (the main emblem of the Air Force is its logo made up of three concentric inverted equilateral triangles, with the colors red, white and green, outside to center), but US Air Force emblems were also used on Mexican fighters to avoid confusion and friendly fire attack.


I return to Mexico

Before returning to Mexico , on September 25, the members of the FAEM unveiled a monument to their fallen comrades; the monument was designed by pilot Miguel Moreno Arreola and was built with the help of 10 elements of the squad. The eagle that tops the monument was made by the Filipino sculptor Tolentino. On October 12, the Squadron delivered its aircraft to “Grupo de Servicios Aéreos 45” and began preparations for the return to Mexico . The members of the FAEM boarded the ship Sea Marlin on October 23, arriving on November 13 in San Pedro, California, although the first to arrive in America were General Antonio Cárdenas, Lieutenant Amadeo Castro Almanza, Second Lieutenant Guillermo García Ramos and Second Lieutenant José Luís Pratt Ramos, who traveled by air after meeting in Tokyo with General Douglas MacArthur with the in order to thank you for your cooperation with FAEM. Economically, Mexico’s performance in World War II cost the country approximately three million dollars. Being part of the allied bloc made Mexico appear among the victorious nations.



The members of the ‘Mexican Expeditionary Air Force’ were promoted to the next higher grade and were awarded the medal “Service in the Far East”, the “[Legion of Honor of Mexico]”, the “Medal of the Liberation of the Republic. Filipina ‘with Presidential Recommendation badge, as well as the American decorations’ Army Efficiency’, ‘Air Force Efficiency’, ‘Americana Campaign’, ‘Asia-Pacific Campaign’ and ‘World War II Victory’. The pilots also received the ‘Air Medal’ and Colonel Cárdenas and Captain Gaxiola the ‘Legion of Merit’. Many of the members have successfully passed on to other careers in life, some as leaders of civil aviation or the Mexican Army, others like businessmen, educators, and engineers; five of the pilots became generals of the Mexican Air Force. In Mexico, monuments have been erected and streets, neighborhoods and schools have been named in honor of the 201 Squad; even a Metro station in Mexico City bears his name. Also, in the Chapultepec Forest in theMexico City , is the Commemorative Mausoleum of Squad 201, near the monument to the ‘Niños Héroes’. There is also a neighborhood “Escuadrón 201” in the Iztapalapa delegation, where there is a commemorative monument.


At present the Squadron is occupied by 8 or 10 Pilatus PC-7 airplanes framed in the Military Air Base No.4 in Cozumel . During January 1994, Squad 201 participated in military operations to contain the armed uprising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. Starting in 2012, it is planned to replace some Pilatus PC-7 “Attack / Counterinsurgency” with T-6 Texan II in different stages.

Pilots List

| – Rubén (Mamerto) Celis Piña | – Jose Maria Hernandez Baylon | – Radamés Gaxiola Andrade | – Julio Cal and Mayor Zaus | – Graco Ramírez Garrido | – Amador Sámano Piña | – David Cerón Bedolla | -Fernando Hernández Vega | – José Luis Pratt Ramos | – Amadeo Castro Almanza | – Carlos Garduño N.| – Carlos Varela Landini | – Américo González García | – Justino Reyes Retana | – Angel Sánchez Rebollo | – Carlos Rodríguez Corona | – Manuel Farías Rodríguez | -Miguel Moreno Arreola | – Sergio Viñals Guijosa | – José Antonio Cossio | – Roberto Legorreta Sicilia | -Praxedis López Ramos | – Jacobo Estrada Luna | – Raúl García Mercado | – José Barbosa Cerda | – Roberto Urias Avelleyra | – Guillermo García Ramos | – Miguel Iriarte Aguilar | – Jaime Zenizo Rojas | – Crisóforo Salido Grijalva | – Hector Espinoza Galván * | – José Espinoza Fuentes * | -Fausto Vega Santander * | – Mario López Portillo * | – Pablo Rivas Martínez * | – Javier Martínez Valle | – Jesus Eduardo Flores Herrera (La Petaca) | – Erasmo Meza Rivera

  • With an asterisk (*) the pilots who died in the Philippine mission.


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