Submitted by: Cynthia Buchanan

Category: Books

After Japan raided Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, the U.S. War Department speedily built six air bases on the Texas border. Nearly a million acres of unpopulated land on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande were used for gunnery and bombing ranges. In 2021, as a professional writer specializing in Spain and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, I developed a graphic novel prototype for history, AZTEC EAGLES of WORLD WAR II: MEXICO’S HEROES, AMERICA’S BROTHERS, with the help of Clarence Mobley Legion Post 359 in Texas and commander Jeff Davis, USAF veteran. We created innovative curricula for, universities, academies, museums and military organizations. In 1942 when Mexico joined the Allies, it reinforced the U.S.-Mexico Defense Commission under presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Manuel Ávila-Camacho. In 1944 Mexican Squadron 201--300 airmen, 36 of them pilots--marched across the international bridge at Laredo, Texas, bound for San Antonio (“Alamo City”). Enlisting at Randolph Army Air Field, the Mexicans trained in the U.S. in P-47 Thunderbolt fighter-bomber aircraft for combat against Japan in the Philippines in 1945, the only time Mexico deployed troops on foreign soil. Sailing on USS Fairisle, they disembarked at Luzon the day Hitler committed suicide in his Führerbunker in Berlin. The 201st flew multiple dangerous fighter sweeps and escorted a battle ship to Okinawa in the event of kamikaze attacks even after the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan. After Gen. MacArthur recommended Squadron 201 leaders for U.S. medals, the unit sailed for California to board their "victory train" heading through an American Southwest that once belonged to Mexico and were wildly cheered by crowds in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, pausing in Del Rio, San Antonio and Laredo before crossing the Rio Grande. In Mexico City President Camacho decorated the “Aztec Eagles” at a heroes' parade. As an Allied power Mexico joined the United Nations in 1947.
In 2005 the National Museum of the Pacific War asked me to partner in World War II celebrations as per “Aztec Eagles” history I shared with Randolph AFB historians and Lackland AFB museum curators. In 2021 Commemorative Air Force Museum magazine and Air Force Historical Foundation’s Air Power History published my new work. Taught at U.S. Naval Academy, it will be taught at U.S. Air Force Academy in 2022. See: as plus and

About the author:

Cynthia Buchanan holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of the Americas in Mexico and was awarded a Fulbright grant under the U.S. State Department for Creative Writing in Spain. She has published in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Newsweek, among others. Her first novel Maiden, taught as an American classic at Harvard, NYU and UCLA, was optioned for film by Lily Tomlin. In 2021 Buchanan finished two darkly comic novels. The Scarlet Spaniard is about Spain’s Civil War and anti-Fascist guerrillas. Cowgirl Polygamy as satire is set in the Spanish Southwest, featuring World War II military aviation, German POW camps and Japanese internment camps. Her new book project Aztec Eagles of World War II: Mexico’s Heroes, America’s Brothers is the result of her interviews with Mexican Squadron 201 veterans. Highlights were taught at the U.S. Naval Academy in 2021 and will be curriculum at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2022. Her article “Mexicans in World War II: America’s Ally of the Air” was published by the Air Force Historical Foundation in Air Power History, summer 2021 and re-published by the Commemorative Air Force Museum magazine Dispatch for Hispanic Heritage Month 2021.