“I remember one, which in my opinion was of great importance,” he says. “The
American Air Force had decided to destroy the bridge over the Marikina River. This would stop
the progress of Japanese Forces across the island. So we went to try to destroy it. As it was
expected, the Japanese put a great effort into defending it. Maybe it was luck, or maybe fate that
gave me the opportunity to drop a bomb over it.”40
The men of the squadron participated in numerous missions, slowly gaining the
confidence of the American pilots. Mr. Gallardo remembers an incident.
“The North Americans used to call us the ‘White Noses’ because our mechanics had
painted the nose of our airplanes white. …We became very popular. On one occasion, I was in
the hospital getting treated for little things that happen to us over there when a wounded soldier
that was next to me noticed that I wasn’t North American. He was very injured, but got up and
came to the bed where I was lying. He asked me, ‘Do you fly a white nose?’ and I said ‘yes.’
He embraced me and said, ‘You can’t imagine how much we love you, because you have helped
us so much.”41
The squadron was also referred to as “Los Pancho Pistolas”, after a Walt Disney cartoon
character of the time. Dressed in Mexican costume, this rooster was aggressive and impulsive.
The squadron often painted this character on their aircrafts and campsite.42
The squadron lost its first pilot in combat in June 1, 1945. Lieutenant Fausto Vega
Santander died while participating in a combat mission near Vigan, a town on the West Coast of
Luzón. Three other members lost their lives before the end of the war.43
39 Pérez Gallardo, interview.
40 Tudor, “Flight of Eagles: The Mexican expeditionary Air Force”, 201.
41 Pérez Gallardo, interview.