In June of 1942 Mexico declared war on Japan and Germany. The Mexican government had been clandestinely cooperating with the US war effort before this open declaration of hostilities, which was precipitated by a German U-Boat sinking the Mexican tanker Portero de Llano. Many Mexicans crossed the border to enlist in the US Armed Forces during the War. The Mexican military was eager to play a part in the struggle, but only one Mexican military unit would see service beyond the borders of Mexico during the War.
Esquadron 201, popularly known as the Aguilas Aztecas, (Aztec Eagles), was a fighter squadron consisting of 300 volunteers, of whom 30 were pilots. They left Mexico for training in the US on July 24, 1944. The unit arrived in the Philippines on April 30, 1945 and served as part of the 58th Fighter Group based at Porac, Luzon. Flying P-47-D Thunderbolts, the squadron participated in 96 combat missions, losing 7 pilots. The squadron received a commendation from General Douglas MacArthur, and after the conclusion of the War received a tumultuous hero’s welcome in Mexico City upon its return from overseas.