Over the next three-and-a-half years of war, the economic and military links forged between Mexico and the United States would define relations across the Rio Grande for decades to come. Immigrant labor, bi-lateral trade, energy sharing and security co-operation are all modern-day issues first confronted by the two neighbors as WW2 allies 60 years ago
Mexico quickly began fulfilling its wartime commitment to America by providing tens of thousands of agricultural contract workers, tanker-loads of oil and massive amounts of other crucial war materiel.
But Mexico´s WW2 effort went beyond patrolling its beaches and sniffing out spies; thousands of Mexicans served with US forces during the war, including some 300 who fought as a distinct Mexican unit in the Pacific air war
By July, 1944, enough Mexican pilots had been trained to form three squadrons, one of which (Squadron 201, or “The Aztec Eagles”) was commissioned for active service in February, 1945. It saw action while attached to the USAAF Fifth Air Corp., flying Republic P-47 Thunderbolts out of Clark Field in the Phillipines, and also over Formosa. Of the 31 Mexican pilots who flew in combat missions, five were killed.
Of Squadron 201 General Douglas MacArthur said.“I have watched over its combat activities with growing pride and admiration, and for that reason upon leaving (the Phillipines) I have said goodbye to them with sadness and affection.”