Mexico's Involvement in World War II
201st Squadron and their heroic actions.
While the term "World War II" implies that the entire world was engulfed in war, few people consider the involvement of countries like Mexico. Although Mexico did not officially join the war, it made significant contributions.
The Catalyst and Training:
Mexico's involvement in World War II began with the sinking of two Mexican oil tankers. The Nazis first targeted the Potrero del Llano on May 13, 1942, and later the Faja de Oro on the 20th of the same month. In response, the Mexican government demanded a formal apology and compensation from the Germans. However, they were met with refusal and were denied any form of redress. These attacks and the subsequent lack of acknowledgment from Germany outraged Mexico and pulled the country into the war effort.
Two years later, the Mexican Air Force established the 201st Expeditionary Squadron, comprised of volunteer pilots, to prepare them for combat. Their initial assignment was to undergo training in Texas. Following their flight training in Texas, they were deployed to the Philippines for further hands-on combat training. During their time in the Philippines, they became acquainted with their new aircraft and tactics, honing their skills in preparation for their future missions.
Off to War
The 201st Squadron became known for their bravery and dedication during their deployment in the Philippines. They flew an astonishing 96 missions and accumulated over 1,900 flight hours in the conflict. The squadron's primary objective was to support the Allied efforts to liberate Luzon and Formosa from Japanese occupation.
Their bombing campaigns were credited with destroying over 30,000 Japanese troops, vehicles, tanks, and ammunition depots, effectively halting many Japanese capabilities and forcing a retreat. While not well known, their actions played a sizable role in the ultimate success of the Allied forces in pushing the Japanese off these islands.
Sacrifices and Losss:
The pilots of the 201st Squadron ran int numerous challenges during their missons. Five pilots paid the ultimate price for their bravery and selflessness. Surprisingly, only one pilot was shot down in action. Another was killed in a crack crash, while three others ran out of fuel during their return flights and died at sea.
The Strengthening of Mexican-American Relations:
Mexico's participation in World War II also had a profound impact on Mexican-American relations. The shared cause against the Axis powers brought the United States and Mexico closer together. The Mexican government's decision to join the Allies was met with support and admiration from the American public, leading to increased cooperation and goodwill between the two nations.
During the war, Mexican-American cartoonists disseminated plenty anti-Nazi propaganda. Their cartoons depicted Adolf Hitler and the Nazis as a showcase to the dangers of fascism while promoting unity against the Axis powers.
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