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Posted on Dec 31, 2007 in History News

Evergreen IMAX Theater Features The Forgotten Eagles Movie Premier

Armchair General

MCMINNVILLE, Ore – Fri., Jan. 11 and Sat., Jan. 12, 2008— The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum’s IMAX Theater is unveiling a special documentary film by noted filmmaker Victor Mancilla titled, The Forgotten Eagles. The film tells the story of the legendary “Aztec Eagle” fighter pilots of Fighter Squadron 201 – the only Mexican military unit to serve in combat outside of that country.

The film will be featured at 6:30 p.m. on Fri., Jan. 11 and 7:15 p.m. on Sat., Jan. 12. Cost of admission is $7/person, $5/student, and $5/Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum members. The film is 1 hour and 5 minutes long.

The Aztec Eagle fighter squadron was created by special accord between Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Manuel Avila Camacho. The elite unit of bilingual aviators and support personnel helped American forces liberate the Philippines during World War II. The pilots’ exploits were highly publicized; they became national heroes in Mexico and symbols of U.S./Mexico wartime solidarity. Their unit was decorated by the governments of all three countries for valor in the cause of freedom.

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The featured documentary was filmed over a three-year period in Mexico, the Republic of the Philippines and the United States. It blends rare archival color and black-and white footage of the unit in training and in the combat zone and present-day interviews with squadron personnel, their relatives and friends. Among its most memorable segments is one showing 81-year-old Capt. Reynaldo Perez Gallardo, a fighter pilot who flew with the unit during the war, inspecting the remnants of his old airbase in the Philippines after an absence of 60 years.

The film has several Oregon connections: two individuals featured in the film, Philippine Army veteran Alejandro De la Rosa, who fought with the American infantry on Luzon and American pilot Lt. Colonel Howard Tuman who helped train the Mexican pilots, both reside in Oregon; and the film’s technical advisor Sig Unander, is a Portland journalist. The National Combat History Archives in Hillsboro, Ore. donated rare historical film footage and the Tillamook Naval Air Station Museum helped with the use of a P-47 fighter aircraft.

Victor Mancilla, the film’s producer/director is a native of Mexico City and the owner/founder of Eravision Productions of Los Angeles, California. He has previously produced or directed a number of documentaries and has worked with such Hollywood stars as Kelly Hu and Latino actor Edward James Olmos, who appears in The Forgotten Eagles. “This is a powerful, positive story of Mexico partnering with the United States to help liberate a former sister colony of Mexico from a brutal Japanese occupation…..it’s also a dramatic personal story, told firsthand by the Mexicans, Philipinos and Americans who lived it,” he said.

Research and logistics for the film were done by Mancilla’s associate, Sig Unander, Jr., a historian and writer who spent six years finding and interviewing the pilots in Mexico and has written a book about the famous unit. “Victor is a master filmmaker who has a passion for this story, said Unander, “it was a pleasure to work with him to bring this true but forgotten history to life on the screen.”

Still photos of the production and a five-minute trailer of the film in English or Spanish may be viewed at:www.201prod.com

The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum is best known as the home of the world’s largest wooden airplane, the” Spruce Goose”, SR-71 “Blackbird”, the Titan II SLV Missile and the Grumman F6F-3 “Hellcat”. In addition, there are more than 80 historic aircraft and exhibits on display, along with artwork, traveling displays, the Spruce Goose Café and the newly remodeled Rotors, Wings & Things store. The Evergreen Aviation Museum’s hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily except when it is closed for Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Easter. The Museum is located at 500 NE Captain Michael King Smith Way, across the highway from the McMinnville Airport and about three miles southeast of McMinnville, Ore., on Highway 18. Regular visitor admission is required. Call (503) 434-4180 for more information, and visit www.sprucegoose.org.

1 Comment

  1. Is “The Forgotten Eagles” movie available in DVD?

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