February 22, 1945. General Francisco Urquizo, México’s Under Secretary of National Defense,
presented the men with the battle flag. After further training in aerial gunnery and individual
combat missions, the squadron left Greenville on March 18, 1945. The trip to the Philippines
was long and exhausting. They first traveled to Camp Stoneman in Pittsburgh, California. After
six days of instructions, physical examinations, and guidelines, the men left to the Philippines on
the Liberty ship, Fairisle, on March 27, 1945.34
During the trip, the men were under the same orders followed by the other 2,300
American soldiers on board. They were expected to perform the military duties assigned and
received current war information daily. They learned about the advancements made by the
Allied forces in Europe and the Pacific Theater. After a short stop in New Guinea, the Fairisle
joined a larger convoy headed for the Philippines.
“We traveled mainly during the night, they took many precautions during the day because
of the submarine threat that was present in the coast of California,” he says. “We spent
something like 30 days at sea.”
Also known as las Aguilas Aztecas (the Aztec Eagles), the squadron arrived in Manila
Bay on April 30, 1945. The men were welcomed warmly by the Philippine General Consul for
México, Alfredo Carmelo. The welcome included Mexican costumes and music.
Mr. Gallardo remembers this with great enthusiasm.
“We were welcomed with Mexican music and cheers. They yelled ‘Viva México!’ It
was a heart-warming experience. It made us feel very proud; I felt very proud.”36
33 34 33
Tudor, “Flight of Eagles: The Mexican Expeditionary Air Force”, 138. Ibid., 147. Pérez Gallardo, interview.
Pérez Gallardo, interview.