The Mexican Air Force in the Philippines  

The  "Escuadron Aereo de Pelea 201" (201st Mexican Fighter Squadron) of the
Mexican Expeditionary Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Expedicionaria Mexicana) has
the honor of being the only military unit that has fought outside of Mexican

This Squadron fought in the liberation of the Philippines while assigned to
the 58th Fighter Group, under the command of Major Ed Roddy, a fighter ace
with 8 kills to his credit while assigned to the 348th Fighter Group under
Col. Neal Kearby, 5th Fighter Command, 5th Air Force; (six of its pilots had
trained in dive-bombing at NAS San Diego, California in 1944 in USN SBD's).

Mexico joined the allies against the Axis Powers (Germany, Japan and Italy)
after May 28, 1942, when German U-boats had attacked and sunk two Mexican
ships without warning, even after the declaration of war Mexico would lose 5
more ships.

With Mexico entry in the war, its military benefited from the Lend-lease
programs, that helped modernized the Mexican Army, Navy and Air Force.

But it was in 1944, that the desicion to send a Mexican military unit was
made by Presidente General de Div. Manuel Avila Camacho, choosing the air
force to represent the Mexican Armed forces.

After a selection process a group of over 300 personel was formed to be sent
to training in the USA, this group was called Grupo de Perfecionamiento
Aeronautico under the command of Col. P.A. Antonio Cardenas Rodriguez
(1905-1969), a veteran flyer and had participated in a Mission of observers
in North Africa in 1943.

When the group arrived in the US, in July 1944, they were sent to diferent
parts of country to be trained by the speciality to form a fighter squadron,
that was to be equipped with the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighter-bomber.
Later they would be reunited at Pocatello AAFB in the state of Idaho. But
due to severe weather conditions, the training was moved to the state of
Texas, in November 1944 where the GPA complete its training on February 23,

During thier training a selected group of American instructor was form known
as Section I , which was commanded by Capt. Paul B. Miller (24 Aug.1944 - 14
Jan.1945) who was replaced by Lt.Col. Arthur W. Kellong. By November 1944
the section comprised of 23 officers and 31 enlisted.

Before that date the GPA by January 1st, 1945, became the Mexican
Expeditionary Air Force under Col. Cardenas and the 201st Mexican Fighter
Squadron under Capt. 1/o. P.A. Radames Gaxiola Andrade (1915-1966). A group
of American personnel to include pilots and ground personnel was include the
MEAF, for duties overseas, this group was led by Lt.Col. Kellong (USAAF).
Also created was a replacement group of personnel under the command of Major
P.A. Rafael J. Suarez Peralta.

The MEAF arrived in the Philippines in April 1945. They flew thier first
combat mission after a period of in theater training conducted by the 5th FC
and the 58th Fighter Group. They were issued various sub-types of the P-47's
from the 58th Fighter Group (some ex-35th and 348th Fighter Groups). They
flew thier first missions the Mexican pilots first assigned in American
formations of the 58th Fighter Group squadrons from June 4th to the 7th,
when the squadron conducted two missions as a unit but with elements of the
58th Group. For the rest of the month the Mexicans flew ground support
missions to American troops that was praised in the following report:

The squadron flew with the 58th Fighter Group the rest of the month on
support missions, often two per day helping the 25th Division in its
break-through from Balete pass and Marikina Watershed area into the Cagayan

They attacked every type of target marked in various manners, ie by map
co-ordinates, by dry run vectoring,by bombing on white phosphorus artillery
or mortar shells and L-5 spotters etc.

The Groups mission including those run by the 201st in support of the 25th
Division was highly commended by the Commanding General of the
Division.There was no separation of a Mexican missions from an American
mission as far the ground forces were concerned and that is sufficient
praised in itself.

Not only did the pilots get into combat, but also certain members of the
ground personnel who encoutered Japanese troops, having some fire fights and
capturing a number of enemy troops as well.

201st Squadron started to received its own P-47D, under the Lend-Lease. In
July 1945 the 201st flew 4 "Fighter Sweeps" to the island of Formosa
(Taiwan), and in August a dive-bombing mission to the Port of Karenko.The
final mission for the squadron was a convoy escort mission in the North Sea
of the Philippines were all the pilots took part.

The 201st would lose five pilots in the P.I. in accidents and transferring
new aircraft from New Guinea to the Philippines.These losses were pilots in
command positions, that would later affect the 201st, when the 58th was
moved to Okinawa to continue operations agaisnt Japan. It was decided to
leave the 201st Squadron in the P.I. and await the arrival of replacement to
make good the losses the squadron had. One of the Mexican pilots though lost
at first was rescued by a Test pilot out of Biak, New Guinea and C.O. of the
374th Service Squadron Major Larry D. Davis who was years later decorated by
the Mexican goverment.

Also two more pilots were killed in training in the US as part of the
replacement training in the Southern part of the USA. One ground personnel
also died in a US hospital due to illness contracted in the Philippines and
had been evacuated back to the US.

In September 1945 the Mexican Expeditionary Air Force was assigned to the
13th Air Force. With the end of the war it returned to Mexico by November
1945. After its return the Mexican Expeditionary Air Force was disbanded by
Presidential degree of 1st December 1945. The 201st Squadron returning to
the Mexican Air Force.

The historical tradition of the MEAF is carried on by Escuadron Aereo de
Pelea 201 that is today based at Cozumel, Quitana Roo of the present day
Mexican Air Force flying the Pilatus PC-7 Turbo-prop COIN/CAS trainers. This
unit saw action in the Chiapas rebellion of January 1994.

Missions completed by the 201st Mexican Fighter Squadron:

 53 ground support missions flown in support of American troops in Luzon
from 4 June to 4 July 1945,

 37 training missions from 14-21 July 1945 (including missions of
transporting new aircraft from Biak Island, New Guinea),

 4 fighter sweeps to the island of Formosa, 6-9 July 1945,

 1 dive bombing mission agaisnt the Port of Karenko, Formosa, 8 August1945,

 1 convoy escort mission in the Sea North of the Philippines, 26 August

Combat record:

Combat Missions flown
Offensive Sorties flown
Defensive Sorties flown
Hours flown in Combat
Hours flown in the Combat Zone
Hours flown in Pre-Combat
Average hours flown per pilot
Total Hours flown
Bombs Dropped 1000 lb
Bombs Dropped 500 lb
Total rounds of 0.50 cal used
166,922 rds.
Aircraft lost in combat
Aircraft damaged in combat
Pilots killed in combat
Pilots killed in accidents
Pilots missing

Note: There is a discrepancy among American and Mexican records on the type
and the amount of bombs dropped by the squadron. A translated copy of the
summary of all the combat misions by the 201st Mexican Fighter Squadron
submitted by Capt.2/o. Amadeo Castro Almanza on March 12, 1946 to the
American Embassy in Mexico city shows the following type of bombs dropped by
the unit:

1,000 lb: 530 pieces
500 lb: 500 pieces

Wartime results:

The 201st Mexican Squadron was given credit for putting out of action about
30,000 Japanese troops and the destruction of enemy held-buildings,
vehicules, tanks, anti-aircraft guns, machine guns emplacements and
ammunition depots.

Mexican Expeditionary Air Force Personnel Losses:

SubTte. P. A. Crisoforo Salido Grijalva , KIFA Texas, USA, 23 January 1945

Tte. P. A. Javier Martinez Valle, KIFA Texas USA, 13 March 1945

SubTte. P. A. Fausto Vega Santander, KIFA P.I., 1 June 1945

Tte. P. A. Jose Espinoza Fuentes, KIFA, 5 June 1945

SubTte. P. A. Hugo Gonzalez y Gonzalez, KIFA USA, 9 July 1945 (Replacement
Group pilot)

Tte. P. A. Hector Espinosa Galvan, KIFA New Guinea, 16 July 1945

Capt.2/o. P. A. Pablo L. Rivas Martinez, missing off New Guinea, 19 July
1945. Officialy declared dead in 1947

SubTte. P. A. Mario Lopez Portillo, KIFA P.I., 21 July 1945

Tte. P. A. Roberto Gomez Moreno, KIFA USA, 26 September 1945 (Replacement
Group pilot)

Sgt.2/o. Radio Operator Francisco Rodriguez Castaneda, died in Santa Fe, New
Mexico Military Hospital due to illness contracted in the P.I., 2 November

American Personnel assigned to the MEAF, 201st Mexican Fighter Squadron in
the Philippines


Lt.Col. Arthur W. Kellong, USAAF. Assigned to the command and staff of the

Lt. Sheridan Kenny Jr., USAAF. Assigned Engineering officers 201st Fighter

Lt. William L. Kester, USAAF. Operations Officer 201st Fighter Squadron

Lt. Peter Economy, USAAF. Communications Officer 201st Fighter Squadron.
Aide de Camp and Interpreter to Col. Cardenas

Lt. Howard B. Riggs, USAAF. Pilot 201st Fighter Squadron

Lt. John J. Haley, USAAF. Pilot 201st Fighter Squadron, 310th Fighter
Squadron/58th Fighter Group, later 201st Fighter Squadron

Enlisted Personnel:

T/Sgt. John S. Tsaguris, USAAF

S/Sgt. Conrad C.L. Cuellar, USAAF

S/Sgt. Grant J. Knechtel, USAAF

S/Sgt. Cornelius Orzatti, USAAF

Sgt. William E. Miller, USAAF

Note: American and Mexican records do not record by name the American pilots
from the liaison group or that of the 58th Fighter Group that flew in combat
with the 201st Fighter Squadron. We only know that they participated in 26

Mexican Personnel of the Staff of the Mexican Expeditionary Air Force
assigned to the V. Fighter Command, June-July 1945:

Mayor de E.M. Enrique Sandoval Castarrica, A2 section

Mayor Pag. Guillermo Linage Olguin, A4 section

Capt.1/o. P. A. Roberto Salido Beltran, A3 section

Tte.Col. E. M. Alfonso Gurza Farfan, Secret section

Sources and References:

Estado Mayor Enrique Sandoval Castarrica, Secretaria de la Defensa Nacional,
Mexico D.F. 1946

MIS DOS MISSIONES, MONOGRAFIA AEREA by General Antonio Cardenas Rodriguez,
Mexico 1949

TRES DE DIANA by General Francisco L. Urquizo, Secretaria de la Defensa
Nacional, Mexico D.F. 1990

Air Enthusiast No.46, June-August 1992. With an update published in Air
Enthusiast No.73, Jan-Feb. 1998

by J. Kupferer, Taylor Pub.Co., Texas 1989


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