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Luis Potosi in the 1940s) in central México, Mr. Gallardo enjoyed an adventurous childhood.

His love for flying was obvious since the age of 14. Mr. Gallardo remembers those days vividly.

“Instead of going to school, I would go to an aviation camp in San Luis Potosí.

The airplanes of that time would get dirty from the bottom, from their body. They would get

dirty with oil and I would volunteer to clean them in return that at the end of day, they would

give me a small trip, a ride around the airport in one of those airplanes,” he recalls. “Since then,

[I] already wanted to fly.”20

That passion for aviation served Mr. Pérez Gallardo well as part of the Mexican

Fighter Squadron 201. Mexican president Manuel Ávila Camacho formed the squadron on July

10, 1944. After training in American bases such as Pocatello Army Air Base in Pocatello, Idaho,

and Majors Field in Greenville, Texas, the men were ready for their war assignment as part of

the 58th fighter group of the U.S. Fifth Air Force stationed in the Philippines.

Mr. Gallardo feels extremely proud of being part of the Mexican Fighter Squadron 201.

Although he was not truly aware of the politics behind the war, he felt it was his responsibility to

answer his nation’s call.

“I had only been an aviation instructor at the Military Aviation School in Guadalajara for

about four or five months when they called for volunteers to form a squadron and participate in

war, in World War II, he says. “As it was expected, I was one of the first ones to volunteer.”21

Mr. Gallardo, who joined the Mexican military at the age of 16, said he was influenced

greatly by his father’s position in the military. After joining the Cavalry unit of the Mexican

20 21

Reynaldo Pérez Gallardo, interview by Lucy Guevara, Austin, Tx., 9 March 2000 Pérez Gallardo, interview.

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