The School the Aztec Eagles Built

By Kirkus Reviews

Nicholson chronicles the important but little-known alliance between the United States and Mexico during World War II The neatly designed account is accessible and well-organized, telling the story in a chronological series of double-page spreads. Historic photographs throughout highlight the significant contributions to the war effort by these Mexican pilots and their hardworking ground crew as they protected U.S. troops in spite of the blatant discrimination they initially faced. Providing protective cover for U.S. Navy ships, Mexico's Air Fighter Squadron 201 kept the ships safe from kamikaze pilots. The Aztec Eagles took out Japanese targets while flying very long range missions from Manila to Taiwan (700 miles). They were awarded the Philippine Liberation Medal for heroism and in recognition of the fact that during their 96 combat missions in the Philippines, no civilians or American military were injured or killed due to friendly fire. The highly decorated squadron "remains the only Mexican military force to see overseas combat." Perhaps the greatest tribute to the Aztec Eagles was the school built in Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico, at the request of one of the crew members, Ángel Bocanegra del Castillo. Inaugurated in 1945 by Mexican President Ávila Camacho and the entire squadron, the school's classrooms are still filled by children who will always be grateful to the men of "El Escaudrón 201." A stirring tribute to an unjustly overlooked group of heroes.