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Last of Mexico’s 'Aztec Eagles' World War II veterans dies at age 98

Sgt. Horacio Castilleja Albarrán was one of about 300 Mexican soldiers and airmen in Squadron 201, who fought alongside U.S. forces in the Philipines.
Former members of Mexican Air Force 201 squadron march in a parade
Former members of Mexican Air Force 201 squadron join a march and parade celebrating the 60th anniversary of the events in Mexico City on May 2, 2005.Omar Torres / AFP via Getty Images file
/ Source: Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — The last veteran of Mexico’s relatively small contingent of World War II veterans has died, Mexico’s Defense Department announced Thursday.

The department said former Sgt. Horacio Castilleja Albarrán was 98 when he died Wednesday. A cause of death was not provided.

Castilleja Albarrán was one of about 300 Mexican soldiers and airmen in Squadron 201, known as the Aztec Eagles, who were sent from Mexico to help in the U.S. war effort against Japan.

The aircraft squadron fought alongside the U.S. Army Air Forces in the Philippines in 1945. Mexico was late to enter World War II, but declared war after German submarines sank several Mexican oil tankers.

Castilleja Albarrán joined the army in 1942 at age 18 and was trained as a radio operator. He was long retired from the service.

He was given a funeral with military honors.