Like the United States before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Mexico did not enter World War II until German submarines sank two of its oil tankers, killing 21 innocent men. Soon after, President Manuel Ávila Camacho sent the 201st Air Squadron, made up of about 336 young Mexican servicemen with no previous battle experience, to help win the Battle of Luzon as part of General McArthur’s liberation of the Philippines.

“Aguilas Aztecas” is an original script telling the story of a group of all-volunteer men who trained in the US to join the Allied forces during World War II. The 201st Air Squadron was the first Mexican military unit trained for combat abroad and remains the only Mexican Army unit to have fought a war outside of Mexican territory. This largely unknown contribution of Mexico to the Pacific war effort will inspire global audiences with an electrifying story of patriotism, friendship and sacrifice as the films “Midway”, “Pearl Harbor” and “Dunkirk” did, and will be filled with history and culture celebrated in films like Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” and Alejandro Monteverde’s “Bella.”

Certainly, a war movie, “Águilas Aztecas” is essentially a romantic drama telling the true life story of the love of Ángel Sánchez, one of the Mexican pilots, and Nancy Hudson, a young Texan woman with whom he fell in love. The love of the new couple was able to overcome his father’s distrust of him, the prejudice of an entire town and, ultimately, a world war. The film also explores the challenges of armed collaboration between two nations that had fought each other in the US-Mexican War 100 years earlier. “Aguilas Aztecas” will address the issue of 1940s American racial stereotypes in a stylish yet poignant way, as the 2016 hit film “Hidden Figures” did before it.

The “Aguilas Aztecas” film project is being developed by Carlaya Productions and co-written by Gene H. Pugh, a Special Forces veteran and author of military novels, and Joaquín Fernández, an award-winning documentary filmmaker. Brian Patrick Wade and Travis Bowman, who combine more than 40 years of film experience both behind and in front of the cameras, are also partners in this effort, under the visionary leadership of Michael Pankow, CEO of Carlaya Productions, himself an award-winning documentary filmmaker. Several Mexican filmmakers, actors and musicians have expressed interest in the film or are being courted by the producers. We have obtained the full support of the Texas Memorial Air Force, which has pledged several World War II P-47s, the aircraft flown by the Aztec Eagles, as well as some trainer planes used by our young heroes.

Supported by a multi-faceted marketing campaign, point-of-sale promotions, and audience engagement through product sales and merchandising incorporating our trademarked version of “Pancho Pistolas.” The film’s social media content will highlight Mexico’s patriotic and historical participation and teamwork with American forces during WWII. The producers hope to release “Águilas Aztecas” on September 16, 2025/2026, Mexican Independence Day, to coincide with the 80th Anniversary of the end of World War II and the triumph of the allied forces.

The True Story of Mexico’s
201st Fighter Squadron from 1944-1945

The Aztec Eagles was an all-Mexican Air Squadron made up of more than 300 volunteers who trained in the U.S. to fight against Imperial Japan. The Aztec Eagles squad was the first Mexican military unit trained for overseas aerial combat. Historians have said that “…perhaps Mexico’s most notable contribution to the war effort came from the Escuadron 201, also known as the Aztec Eagles.

The True Story of
Mexico’s 201st Fighter Squadron from 1944-1945

The Aztec Eagles was an all-Mexican Air Squadron made up of more than 300 volunteers who trained in the U.S. to fight against Imperial Japan. The Aztec Eagles squad was the first Mexican military unit trained for overseas aerial combat. Historians have said that “…perhaps Mexico’s most notable contribution to the war effort came from the Escuadron 201, also known as the Aztec Eagles.

The Importance of Mexico’s
Participation in the War

201st Fighter Squadron Facts

0Combat Pilots
0Combat Missions
0Combat Hours Flown

Missions Completed

The Team Bringing it to Life

Gene Pugh

⭐️ Gene Pugh ⭐️

Executive Producer

Eugene H. Pugh was born in Colón, Republic of Panama. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Languages (Spanish and French) from North Texas State University, Denton, Texas in January of 1970 after serving in the US Army. While in the US Army he volunteered for Special Forces and while in Vietnam was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group (Abn) with further assignment to Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observation Group (MACVSOG), the premier classified organization conducting long-range reconnaissance into denied areas.

After his military service Mr. Pugh was employed by the Washington DC Public Schools, on loaned to the Labor Department, assigned to the Manpower Administration detailed to special projects. He became Remedial Director of Project Build, Inc. One of his primary missions was to recruit, train, and employ the Spanish speaking minor group in the Washington DC area into the local labor force. Mr. Pugh was a member of the Mayor’s Emergency Labor Task Force dealing in Latin-American Labor Relations.

After he left the school system Mr. Pugh worked for Century Aviation, Leesburg, Virginia, a full service Cessna Dealership (Single and Multi-engine) in their sales department and within five years became Director of Operations for Century Aviation overseeing four small airports, two in Florida, one in Maryland, and one in Virginia. He also obtained his private pilot license.

Mr. Pugh was later employed by Lan-Trac International, Tysons Corners, Virginia, in their tree logging operation in southern Maryland and in their Export-Import Department. He developed various marketing strategies for the company’s growth and expansion. He was instrumental in the development of Tysons Motor Sports and Oils, which was not only an Amoco Service Station, but also federalization of exotic import cars (installing emissions controls required by the government). He also became a residential real estate agent.

Wanting to fulfill a more challenging venue, the family moved to Dallas, Texas, where he became Chief Investigator for Peregrine International, Dallas, Texas, a private investigations company. The members of the company were former Special Forces operatives. Mr. Pugh conducted counter- terrorist seminars, kidnapping prevention, and security assessments to corporate executives traveling abroad in potential high-risk areas.

Mr. Pugh, being a physical fitness enthusiast worked in the fitness industry for a short period and later worked for Sigels Fine Wine and Liquor prior to retiring.

Gene is currently retired and his passions are traveling with his wife Phyliss visiting family and his military Brothers. As of date he has published two novels – Surrender Not An Option - and – The Reunion Mission – both available on Amazon. A third – The Diplomat – is being edited along with two other completed novels. Gene has ten (10) completed scripts, one (1) episodic of 12 episodes military in nature, one (1) treatment, as of this date five (5) scripts are in various stages of being finished. The subject matter of the scripts range from military historical to action thrillers.

Michael Pankow

⭐️ Michael Pankow ⭐️

Executive Producer

Michael Pankow is a father, former commissioned officer of the U.S. Armed forces, and a successful entrepreneur with a strong background in finance, brand development, sales, and producer of documentary films. Michael's first documentary, Nation's Promise, was awarded 18 wins and one nomination including but not limited to "Best Documentary Long Form" at the Paris Play Film Festival, “Bronze Telly” at the Telly awards and, a Platinum award “Best Documentary Feature Film” at the Eastern Europe International Movie Awards.

Michael grew up in San Diego California and after his high school graduation, enlisted in the US Army to pursue his passion serving our country and ultimately fly helicopters like his father. Unfortunately, flying helicopters never materialized but not to be dissuaded from serving at a higher level, Michael shifted gears and went to OCS where he was awarded "Leadership Honor Grad" of his 1993 graduating class. Michael served a total of 12 years in the US Armed Forces.

Michael's career, experience, and passion for film, propelled him to co-found Carlaya Productions LLC. Energized by what’s difficult and ignited by the impossible, there are no dead ends to how Michael approaches his work. To date, Carlaya Productions has developed 10 screenplays, one Episodic, and two published books and is most excited about the positive and uplifting story of the Aztec Eagles screenplay which needs sharing with not only Hispanics but the world.

Travis Bowman

⭐️ Travis Bowman ⭐️

Producer, Author, and
Descendant of Peter Francisco

Travis Bowman is an author, actor, film producer and 7th generation descendant of Peter Francisco. He released his novel LUSO™ in 2009 and worked with the History Channel to produce the first ever television documentary about his famous ancestor. The documentary, The Peter Francisco Story, won a Platinum Aurora Award in 2012.

Travis stands 6’6” tall just like Peter Francisco, and has brought his great-grandfather to life over 100 times through a 30-minute dramatic impersonation for historic societies, schools, universities, and church groups across the US and Portugal. In 2013, he was honored to bring Peter Francisco to life in Porto Judeu, Azores close to where he was kidnapped 250 years ago.

Mr. Bowman’s work has earned him numerous awards and accolades and dozens of newspapers have published articles about him around the world. But, being knighted by the Duke of Braganza (King of Portugal if they had a monarchy) in 2019 was the highlight of his achievements. Travis is cofounder of Into The Storm Productions, LLC which manages LUSO™.

Brian Patrick Wade

⭐️ Brian Patrick Wade ⭐️

Producer and Actor Portraying Peter Francisco

For over 20 years, Brian Patrick Wade has been entertaining audiences around the world with his acting skills. As an actor, he’s portrayed serious characters, comical roles, true heroes, and even comic book figures, and some people consider him one of the most diverse artists in Hollywood. But, the road to Hollywood wasn’t easy.

Brian was raised in Florida and by age 18 he was 6’4” and 230 lbs. He played football at Clemson University and shortly after college he decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue his passion. It was not easy breaking into the industry, but over the last two decades he’s been blessed to work with Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne, Ashton Kutcher, Kelsey Grammer, Clark Gregg, Chloe Bennet…just to name a few. You might recognize him from the Big Bang Theory, The Guardian, Two & Half Men, NCIS, Teen Wolf or Marvel Agents of SHIELD, and now he’s stepping into a Producer/Actor role on LUSO™.

Brian is cofounder of Into The Storm Productions, LLC which manages LUSO™.

Joaquin Fernandez

⭐️ Joaquin Fernandez ⭐️


Joaquin Fernandez is a veteran documentary producer and founder of Great Commission Films. He has traveled extensively across the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. Born in Miami, Florida, Joaquin was educated in the Dominican Republic before studying filmmaking at New York University.

After NYU, Joaquin worked in multinational advertising agencies focused on Latin American audiences. In the 2000s, he founded Lighthouse Video & Graphics, serving clients in higher education and the non-profit sector. It was during this time that Joaquin met his Cuban wife, and together, they made the decision to settle in the Carolinas with their four children.

Joaquin's portfolio includes feature-length documentaries that have captivated audiences worldwide, covering a wide range of topics such as education, the opioid epidemic, and the pursuit of religious meaning. Additionally, he has directed and produced two episodic curricula, each comprising 13 videos lasting 30 minutes, designed to support individuals navigating life crises.

Throughout the process of co-writing the screenplay for Aztec Eagles, Joaquin drew upon his extensive experience in documentary filmmaking. His goal was to breathe life into the characters while remaining faithful to the historical accuracy of their stories.

PJ Putnam

⭐️ PJ Putnam ⭐️

Award-Winning Executive Producer & Producer

PJ Putnam is Air Force Academy graduate and former instructor where he taught unarmed combat, water survival, and Judo while coaching fencing.

Later, as an Air Force rescue/special ops pilot of more than 3,250 flight hours (including more than 350 combat hours), PJ has the distinction of landing in an erupting volcano in the Philippines to rescue a USGS team that wanted to get the freshest samples of the pyroclastic!

After he left the Air Force, PJ earned his MBA from the University of New Mexico. Then, he worked as a consultant to a 3-letter government agency. While being a “road warrior”, traveling from Albuquerque to Las Vegas every week for work, someone told him that law school was hard. Always being up for a challenge, he attended Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law – halfway through his first year of law school, his father passed away. PJ felt he needed a change of pace, so he trained to become a Surgery Technician and traveled to Ecuador on the Columbia border to work as a member of a surgery team with MMI during some of the intense drug wars that took place. Later, he returned to law school and graduated Cum Laude while being voted by his peers as one of two people to being named as the Outstanding Graduate of his class.

He became the first General Counsel for Gearbox Software, LLC where he helped create the Brothers in Armsfranchise, the Borderlands franchise, Samba de Amigo for the Wii, Alien’s Colonial Marines, from among others, while learning the art of video game publishing, book publishing, creating videogame-based figurines, and publishing soundtracks. While on vacation from Gearbox, he was the Executive Producer and Producer for Meyer’s Hill – a World War II film, shot on location in Wales – that won a Webby’s Honorable Mention Award! Soon thereafter, he was recruited to join 410 Garfield Films, LLC as its CEO. While at 410 Garfield Films, he oversaw several films that were distributed by RedBox and Netflix. Later, PJ served as an Executive Producer for the acclaimed, award-winning Hiding in Plain Sight by Michael Legend Brown.

Currently, PJ is turning the diary that he kept while flying in and around the erupting Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines into novel and eventually a movie. To date, PJ has published ten CDs, twelve DVDs, and has edited or co-written three books.

PJ is a member of Carlaya Productions, LLC and a founding member of Impact Studios, LLC.