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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.”

35

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.

36

Pérez Gallardo, interview.

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