© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

World War II's Aztec Eagles Take Flight Again At The Institute Of Texan Cultures

If you dig deep into World War II’s history, you find obscure facts that somehow history has just forgotten to pass on. Well, here’s one for you: Mexican pilots fought alongside American ones in the Pacific theater.

As Bryan Howard, director of research, exhibits and collections at the Institute of Texan Cultures explains, they called them the "Aztec Eagles."

“That’s the nickname given to the 201st Fighter Squadron in Mexico," Howard said. "That was a fighter squadron created in Mexico, trained in the United States, and then attached to United States forces in the Pacific in World War II."

San Antonio was something of a gateway city for these pilots’ entrance into the war.

"They trained here in Texas at a number of places, including Randolph Field, they also went to Pocatello, Idaho for a while, and in Victoria, Texas for a while" Howard said.

They primarily flew the P-47, or "Juggs" as the pilots called them, and the agreement wasn’t completed for their service until March of 1945. By that time, Howard said, there was only one real front left.

"In the Pacific they were exclusively at the Phillipines, primarily at Clark Field," Howard said.

Their service was just three months,but they paid a price.

"There was one pilot killed in combat, four pilots killed in flight accidents while deployed," Howard said.

The exhibit’s creator, Mario Longoria, will speak to this subject at 2 p.m. Sunday at a free event.

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii