Horacio Castilleja, the last Mexican veteran who fought in World War II, died at 98

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A few days ago, the death of Sergeant Horacio Castilleja Albarrán, who was the last living veteran of the Mexican Expeditionary Air Force of the legendary Squadron 201, was reported. On November 30 of this year, the  Secretary of National Defense (Sedena) confirmed the death of the gentleman at 98 years of age. Likewise, on December 1, they paid tribute to him for his role as a specialist in transmissions during World War II. Let’s remember that Mexico served as an ally of the United States during this period, sending nearly 300 soldiers and pilots to fight alongside our neighboring country in the Philippines in a direct confrontation with Japan.

Who was Horacio Castilleja Albarrán?

Although we do not know the exact cause of death, the sergeant gave much to talk about due to his professional career within the Mexican Army. It is known that the last member of the Aztec Eagles was honored at the Military Pantheon this Thursday, December 1, located at  No. 6011, on the Mexico-Cuernavaca highway, San Andrés Totoltepec, Tlalpan, in Mexico City. 

Likewise, the event was directed by the general pilot aviator  José Gerardo Vega Rivera, current commander of the Mexican Air Force, He fired the sergeant and sent his condolences to friends and family. “We regret the death of the sergeant… Our condolences to his appreciable family and friends. Rest in peace,”  the military command pointed out.

At the age of 18, in 1942,  Castilleja Albarrán joined the army and received training as a radio operator. He was a specialist in transmissions at the Military School of Transmissions where he completed the Radio Operator Course. By 1945,  in the framework of World War II, Squadron 201 was formed and it was already the man who complimented the team. Let us remember that on December 29, 1944, the Senate of our country authorized the sending of troops to combat. That was how, based on order 8606, of the Aeronautics Directorate of the National Defense Secretariat, the unit was officially discharged from the Mexican Army on January 1, 1945.

This template was organized as follows:  Command, Command Group, Squadron 201, and Replacement Group, a scheme adopted to act in accordance with the organic form of a US fighter squadron. Specifically, Squadron 201 was a select group of volunteers made up of the best pilots and the best base personnel in Mexico. The unit received training at various locations in the United States, primarily at Greenville, Texas, and Pocatello, Idaho airfields.

They conducted  96 combat missions supporting allied ground forces, and actively participated in the bombing raids of Luzon and Formosa, the island today known as Taiwan.

In total, 2,842 hours were flown in the Pacific, of which 1,970 hours were in combat missions; 591 in a combat zone, and 281 hours flown of previous training. It should be noted that the exact number of members was  289 Mexican elements.  We know that five died in combat and one from disease.  In the United States, four elements died in training. After fighting valiantly, Squadron 201 was transferred in reserve to Okinawa .entering the capital of the Mexican Republic victorious on November 18, 1945.  Horacio Castilleja Albarrán received, along with the other participants of the team, the medal for Service in the Far East.

This veteran military man and part of history had retired from the service a long time ago, in addition to being a pensioner. However, it is worth mentioning that Sedena highlighted his participation in World War II for the high levels of patriotism, heroism, and spirit of service;  he obtained in 1954 the Presidential Decoration that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines imposed on the members of the Expeditionary Air Force.

Source: El Heraldo de México