Guide First in the Air - The Eagle Squadrons of World War II

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The Official Site of the 4th Fighter Group - World War II - Home Page

Air Force during the liberation of the Philippines in On the home front, hundreds of thousands of farm workers crossed the border to work for U. As the first rumblings of another great war stirred in Europe in the s, Mexico and the United States seemed like unlikely allies.


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But as the war in Europe began to disrupt trade routes around the world, Mexico and other Latin American countries found themselves in economic peril. Mexico cut diplomatic ties with Japan on December 9, ; it broke with Germany and Italy by December Men of the st Mexican Fighter Squadron, also know as the Aztec Eagles, standing before one of their P Thunderbolts stationed at Clark Field, Manila awaiting to take part in the air war against Japan.

For the Mexican people, participation in World War II would come to signify a continuation of the spirit that had animated their own revolution.

But over time, Rankin says, the Mexican president wanted a greater role in wartime strategy and post-war peace negotiations , and decided military participation would be the best way to achieve this. The result was Squadron , better known as the Aztec Eagles, which left for intensive training in the United States in July Throughout the remainder of the war the number killed continued to rise and in the end 44 percent of those young men who had been members of the Eagle Squadrons lost their lives in WWII.

It is important to realize that the young men who volunteered were signing up for the unknown. Almost none had ever been to England, or very many places in the United States for that matter.

Flag presentation to honor WWII pilots

With the exception of a few Eagles such as the late Bill Dunn the first American Ace in WWII , who saw action against the Germans as a member of the Canadian Army, none had been to war nor did they understand what it entailed or the risks involved. Many had tried to join the aviation cadet program of the U. Army, but lacked the required two years of college, were too tall like Reade Tilley, or had a couple of teeth missing like Bill Edwards Spartan trained … So if they were going to get into the war as pilots, and almost all of them believed that war would soon come to the United States, the RAF was the only answer.

So, despite the risk of losing their American citizenship for joining a foreign military force, they put service above self, signed up, went to England, fought and died. Keep in mind that World War II was fought by young people, really kids.

For the Eagles the average age was 21 years old. Those young American volunteers in their Spitfires engaging the Germans were often still teenagers…There were countless bombers flying the terribly costly missions over Europe on which every member of the 10 man crew was a teenager… When Danny Daniel a. Daniel, a native Oklahoman walked into Stalag Luft III as a POW he was 17 years old…It was the optimistic and indestructible nature of youth that was partially responsible for the willingness of so many young men to sign up for duty with a foreign air force in a land they had never seen and to risk their lives to fly such airplanes as the Hurricane and Spitfire.

But youth gives way rapidly in war and so it was in the Eagles….

Eric Doorly was a Spartan trained pilot who evaded capture by the Germans after bailing out in France. After having made his way the length of France, Doorly found himself with a group, put together by the underground, attempting to cross the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain.

The group had tried once and turned back for reasons known only to the underground. They did so while the United States remained a neutral power and overcame significant obstacles to accomplish their objective. Over time, the RAF formed three fighter units, known collectively as the Eagle Squadrons, around these volunteer pilots.

These Americans flew alongside their British comrades in fighter and bomber escort missions until , when they transferred into the United States Army Air Forces.


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  • The Eagle Squadron pilots made noteworthy contributions to the RAF, assisting them in their transition from fighting a defensive war to waging an offensive campaign against the German Luftwaffe and helping pave the way to an eventual Allied victory. Read more Read less.

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