Flight of the Aztec Eagles: When Mexico bombed Taiwan

An abridged model of the next article appeared in yesterday’s Taipei Instances: 

A 58th Fighter Group aircraft attacking targets in northern Luzon in Might 1945. (The photograph, which was first printed in ‘Pacific Sweep: A Pictorial Historical past of the Fifth Air Pressure Fighter Command’ a 1945 ebook by Australian Captain R. B Wistrand was made out there by way of Frank Sparrow on the Fuerza Aerea Expedicionaria Mexicana, Escuadron Aereo de Pelea 201 Fb web page. From right here on: courtesy of Escuadrón 201 FAEM).

“Rise up anybody who didn’t study something simply now,” says Michael Hurst. No one strikes from the seats they’ve been glued to for the previous 90 minutes. “I definitely realized an entire lot,” says Hurst, director of the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society. “However I at all times do at any time when Wei-bin speaks.”

Hurst is referring to Chang Wei-bin (張維斌), an aviation historian and writer of Formosa Air Raid a complete research of the allied bombardment of Taiwan throughout WWII. As effusive as it’s, Hurst’s reward is one thing of an understatement. Chang, who additionally runs the Taiwan Air Weblog, has simply delivered a lecture as a part of the society’s August 15 programme to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VJ day – the tip of WWII, which is among the many most fascinating I’ve attended in nearly 20 years in Taiwan.

Even for one not versed in in aerial warfare, the breadth and depth of the knowledge and the readability of the reasons is breathtaking. It contains detailed pictures of places island-wide that had been bombed, what, if something, was focused and hit, and what could be present in these spots now. The modern landmarks embrace Kaoshiung Exhibition Heart and Songshan Cultural and Artistic Park.

“The American intelligence mistook it for a restore store,” says Chang, referring to the outdated tobacco manufacturing unit within the latter location. Highlighting an space between Jiankang Rd and Yanshou St., a number of blocks north, Chang provides, “If you happen to go there, you possibly can inform your folks this was once an airstrip.”

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On this slide offered at Chang Wei-bin’s presentation at Taipei Movie Home on August 15, an American intelligence map could be seen. It exhibits what’s now Songshan Cultural and Artistic Park and its environs. Within the sq. towards the underside is the outdated tobacco manufacturing unit, which is incorrectly labelled as a restore store, one in every of many errors the Allies made of their bombing marketing campaign, with faculties generally bombed in error.

However it’s the unimaginable tales of the people concerned – typically simply detours from the primary subject – that basically seize the creativeness.

There’s the story of Lieutenant Charles V. August whose pressured touchdown and seize whereas strafing Huwei Township (虎尾), Yunlin County, made him the one aviator recognized to have been a POW twice.

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A slide from Chang’s presentation with particulars about Charles V. August, a pilot downed in Huwei, Yunlin County on January 4, 1945, making him the one recognized airman to have been made a POW twice.

August’s first incarceration lasted simply two days after he was one in every of 10 airmen downed throughout Operation Torch, an Allied invasion of North Africa in November 1942. Six pilots died, with the rest taken prisoner by the Vichy authorities who tenuously managed French North Africa on the time. When these Nazi collaborators capitulated, the POWs had been launched on November 11.

Twenty-two months later in Taiwan, August suffered engine failure, touchdown his F6F Hellcat in Huwei airfield on January 4, 1945. Following interrogation and imprisonment, he was transferred to to Japan earlier than being liberated from the Tokyo POW Camp at Shinjuku in September following Japan’s give up. After being displayed at a shrine in Huwei, his aircraft additionally went to Japan “for evaluation” at Yokosuka, the place the Imperial Japanese Navy developed and examined its fight plane. On the finish of the warfare, the stays of the aircraft had been found there with Japanese markings on it, suggesting it had been repaired and re-used.

One other fascinating vignette was the account of James Roy Langiotti and Harwood S. Sharp, the radio operator and pilot of a S2BC dive bomber who had been on the run for 12 days after being shot down on October 12, 1944. This was in distinction to most downed pilots who had been rapidly captured. Primarily based on Japanese interrogation notes, Chang believes the pair had been reported by locals in Hsinchu County the place they had been caught. “They first landed within the water. After they made it to land, they hid through the day and went out at evening for meals. Ultimately somebody noticed them,” Chang says.

Probably the most intriguing facet of Chang’s speak pertains to the supporting raids by different Allied nations.

The Royal Australian Airforce noticed motion in night-time mining operations staged from the Lingayen Gulf on northwestern Luzon within the Philippines between March 6 and March 20, 1945. 4 missions had been flown and one pilot was reported lacking in motion (MIA).

The next month, the British Pacific Fleet had been concerned. “The purpose assigned to them was to neutralize the Sakishima Islands [located 360km off the northeast coast of Taiwan],” says Chang, explaining that this was in help of Operation Iceberg, the American invasion of Okinawa on April 1. “Nevertheless, the Japanese launched a largescale suicidal assault on the American fleet, inflicting heavy harm to the plane service USS Hancock on the seventh [of April]. So the British fleet was requested to assault Taiwan as a result of the US navy thought the assault got here from there. Really, this was in all probability true – a few of them got here from Kyushu and a few from Taiwan.”

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A slide displaying the Japanese interrogation stories of 16 captured airmen. Within the two columns furthest to the left, numbered 15 and 16, the small print of James Roy Langiotti and Harwood S. Sharp could be seen, together with the date their plane was downed and the date they had been captured. The radio operator and pilot of a S2BC dive bomber, the pair had been on the run from 12-24 October, 1944 earlier than being collared in Hsinchu County.

From 4 plane carriers, then allotted as Activity Pressure 57 by the US Navy, the British attacked Songshan (then referred to as Matsuyama) and Keelung. Scheduled for April 11, the unique raid was postponed to the next day on account of inclement climate, with an extra sortie flown on April 13. Throughout the first raid, one Avenger bomber was downed, with one airman reported MIA and one other two killed. Sub Lieutenant Daniel McAleese from New Zealand was captured. “He nearly turned a POW,” says Chang, “however sadly he died within the hospital.”

The participation of Mexico within the raids is a literal blast from the previous that’s sure to shock even army historical past buffs in Taiwan.

Initially, Mexican President Manuel Ávila Camacho was hesitant to affix the warfare. An ex-military man himself, Ávila had joined the revolutionary military in 1914, the identical 12 months that then-Captain Douglas MacArthur had participated within the occupation of the Mexican port of Veracruz. Underscoring Ávila’s reticence was sympathy among the many Mexican elite for Nazi ideology.

Nevertheless, the sinking of two Mexican oil tankers, killing no less than 20 individuals, determined the matter. Ávila declared warfare on the Axis powers on Might 28, 1942. Privately, Japan was thought-about the true menace, particulars of a deliberate invasion of the U.S. by way of northwestern Mexico having been intercepted by the Mexican military previous to Ávila’s announcement. A contribution within the Pacific theater appeared the most suitable choice.

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President Manuel Ávila Camacho critiques the FAEM 201 Squadron contingent on the Balbuena Air Base accompanied by the Secretary of Protection Basic Lázaro Cárdenas del Río and Gral. Fransisco Luis Urquizo on July 20, 1944. (Photograph courtesy of the Mexican Air Pressure).

Nicknamed the Águilas Aztecas (the Aztec Eagles), the 201st Fighter Squadron was a 300-strong volunteer pressure. Following coaching in Texas, the 201st had a spell in Idaho, which was lower quick because it proved “too chilly for Mexicans,” in keeping with Chang. After one other stint in Texas after which bodily examinations and directions in California, the squadron departed for the Philippines on March 27, 1945 aboard the SS Fairisle.

As soon as there, they had been assigned to the Fifth Air Pressure, hooked up to the U.S. 58th Fighter Group, based mostly at Clark Area on Luzon. It’s fascinating to notice, as Chang does, that the Fifth was fashioned from the remnants of the Far East Air Pressure, which had been decimated by assaults from Formosa earlier than being reorganised from headquarters in Brisbane. “The Fifth Airforce was fashioned in early 1942 with the remaining plane that escaped from the Luzon assaults,” says Chang, explaining that as a result of they provided “a much bigger payload” for longer distance sorties and “Formosa required fixed policing,” land-based plane had been favoured for the Taiwan raids. “So it was fairly a coincidence that the Fifth Airforce turned the spine of the forces used towards Formosa, as a result of in December ’41, the Japanese bombed Luzon from Formosa and now the Fifth bombed Formosa from Luzon,” says Chang.

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Members of the 201st pose with an indication displaying the brand and nickname of the squadron. (Photograph courtesy of Escuadrón 201 FAEM).

“[The Eagles] had been despatched to Luzon in late April and truly used P-47 plane borrowed from the Individuals,” says Chang. On one of many slides in his presentation, Chang highlights the Mexican tricolor of inexperienced, white and purple, which appeared with the American star emblem in varied kinds on the fighter-bombers. “As a result of they had been fairly inexperienced, in Luzon, they first obtained coaching once more alongside American fighters, and it was not till a 12 months [after they had begun training in the U.S.] that they flew missions to Taiwan within the identify of long-range reconnaissance coaching.”

In reality, this underplays the Mexican contribution. Earlier than the Taiwan missions, the 201st noticed loads of motion, helping with the bombing of Luzon and floor help. Except for the Formosa raids, they flew dozens of fight missions within the Philippines.

Throughout their first 4 reconnaissance sweeps off Taiwan, which occurred between July 6 and July 9, they encountered the enemy however didn’t have interaction. “On these first 4 missions, they didn’t hearth a single shot,” says Chang.

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The boys pose for the digital camera in Luzon, circa summer season 1945. (Photograph courtesy of Escuadrón 201 FAEM).

Nevertheless, these sorties had been no breeze. “We flew some very harmful missions from Clark Area within the Philippines to Formosa, now referred to as Taiwan,” Captain Miguel Moreno Arreola instructed the American Forces Press Service (AFPS) in 2003.“We noticed extra frequent airplanes from Japan on that 650-mile journey than ever earlier than,” mentioned Arreola, who spent six months within the Pacific. And, in keeping with the Mexican veteran, it was the enemy that was reluctant to interact. “They didn’t wish to have fight with us, as a result of they knew our P-47s had been higher than their Mitsubishis,” Arreola defined. “We might fly greater and sooner.”

On August 8, the Aztec Eagles flew to Taiwan once more, this time on a bombing mission at Hualien, then often known as Karenko. Six 1,000-1b bombs had been dropped, although they seem to have missed their targets. “They carried one bomb on one wing and a gasoline tank on the opposite as a result of it was too heavy to hold two bombs on the similar time,” says Chang. “I’m undecided what was bombed, however in keeping with their mission report, it was not efficient.”

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The operations report for the 201st Mexican Fighter Squadron’s bombing mission. On the left-hand aspect, the primary column data the scale of the bomb (1,000 kilos) and the placement of the assault (Karenko/Hualien) on Aug. 8, 1945. On the suitable, in faint handwriting, the phrases “constructing undamage(d)” could be made out.
(Photograph courtesy of the Escuadrón 201 FAEM).

Regardless, the 201st returned to appreciable fanfare on November 18, 1945. They delivered a nationwide flag to Ávila in a parade on the Zócalo, Mexico Metropolis’s most important sq., and a film bearing the squadron’s identify was launched lower than two weeks after their return. A station on Mexico Metropolis Metro Line 8 can be named of their honor.

In 2004, then-Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo awarded the squadron the Philippine Legion of Honor 2004, Legionnaire rank, one in every of a number of awards bestowed by varied Filipino adminstrations. Ávila himself was awarded the Republic of China’s Order of Propitious Clouds with Particular Grand Cordon.

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Philippine Ambassador to Mexico Eduardo Jose A. de Vega bestows the Philippine Legion of Honor unit quotation award on 96-year-old Corporal Ernesto Martinez Trujillo, one of many unique Aztec Eagles on Might 10, 2018. (Photograph courtesy of the Republic of the Philippines Division of Overseas Affairs).

Regardless of the preliminary pleasure in and recognition of an endeavour that to this point stays the solely abroad army engagement by Mexican forces, it quickly turned political expedient to overlook concerning the Eagles’ exploits. “After the warfare, the Mexican authorities didn’t wish to play up the accomplishments of the Aztec Eagles,” writes Walte Zapotoczny Jr in his ebook The Aztec Eagles: The Forgotten Allies of the Second World Warfare. “One concern was that such consideration would feed into the widespread Mexican notion that that they had completed Individuals bidding in 1945. Furthermore, if members of the 201st had been celebrated as warfare heroes, and one or two turned standard sufficient to run for workplace, it threatened the inflexible, vertical, political construction in Mexico, the place politicians had been handpicked by the institution.”

But, the veterans weren’t bitter, and “refused to criticize their authorities for failing to adequately honor their sacrice.” Many went on to forge profitable careers, some remaining in aviation, others transferring into enterprise and academia.

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Welcome house! (Photograph courtesy of Santiago A. Flores / Escuadrón 201 FAEM).

As of Might, 2020, just one fight pilot from the Aztec Eagles was  nonetheless alive. Within the aforementioned interview with AFPS, 100-year-old Colonel Carlos Garduño recalled assembly Ávila, who beseeched the squadron to recollect “your pilot comrades that aren’t with you as a result of they’ve handed on to the hills of Mexico.”

Because of the efforts of historians corresponding to Chang Wei-bin, the feats of the Aztec Eagles have additionally been stored alive in Taiwan, lengthy after they soared by way of its skies.

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The outdated 201st insignias.(Photograph courtesy of Escuadrón 201 FAEM).

Sources (along with embedded hyperlinks within the textual content):

201st Squadron’s web site:

http://escuadron201.org.mx/?fbclid=IwAR0JugqlXZzB6V-DMIjxBL-mZOVcE8NbJMl4iwPsDCTEwXmmDk0j62jbdRc

New York Instances: When the Mexican Air Pressure Went to Warfare Alongside America

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/27/magazine/world-war-ii-mexican-air-force.html

Pacific Wrecks

https://pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/f6f/71441.html

Mexicans at Warfare: Mexican Navy Aviation within the Second World Warfare 1941-1945

https://www.amazon.com/Mexicans-War-Military-Aviation-1941-1945/dp/191239006X

 

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

The post A Plague of Giants appeared first on Elitist Book Reviews.

The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.

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