As the Santa Ana Public Library continues to commit to serving some of the needs of veterans through its available resources, the historians and archivists on staff have launched a series of events aimed at raising awareness on the issues post-war veterans face in their daily lives. This series, known as "War Comes Home: Finding Peace at the Home Front" will delve every week into a new topic in war history through historical exhibitions, film screenings, book discussions, and lectures.
In line with this objective, a screening SAPL is presenting at the Frida Cinema this Saturday is a historical documentary on the little-known unit of Mexican soldiers who served in World War II known as the Aztec Eagles. Made in 2006 and narrated by Edward James Olmos, The Forgotten Eagles recounts the heroic efforts by the Aztec Eagles as they volunteered to put their lives on the line for their country.
Present day interviews, on-screen text and archival footage help to tell the story of these brave soldiers and their exploits. Three hundred Mexican soldiers (all volunteers) would be shipped from Mexico to Texas for training and medical exams after President Camacho declared war on the Axis powers following a German attack on Mexican oil tankers. Their trainers? The female pilots of the Women Airforce Service Pilots. (I, for one, would love to see a documentary on those gals).
Despite the language barriers, the 201st Fighter Squadron accomplished training procedures and were poised for battle by February 1945. Ultimately, the men were transported to the Philippine island of Luzon; their combat mission was to support the US Army's 58th fighter group in the Philippines along with the Philippine army and engage in attack on Japanese occupation. Many lives were lost in the brutal onslaught, and out of the three hundred that went in, over sixty men returned alive.
The Forgotten Eagles serves as an important film that documents the sacrifices of a group not often credited for their efforts in WWII. As part of SAPL's War Comes Home series, the film will surely enlighten and resonate within a community that already values its history so much.
For more information on other events for the War Comes Home series, check out the WCH Facebook event page. Remember, all events are free so be sure to check out as many as you can.
The Forgotten Eagles, dir. by Victor Mancilla, screens Saturday, Sept. 20th at 2pm at the Frida Cinema.