The passion of Luis Pérez Gómez for flying took him to the Royal Canadian Air Force, he died in combat and after more than five decades, in 2001, he was recognized as the only Mexican pilot who fought in Europe in World War II, although most Mexicans do not know him.
On June 6, 1944, in the historic “D-Day”, the Jalisco was part of the Normandy Landing, a military operation of the allies in France, with more than 150 thousand American, British and Canadian soldiers, which started the liberation of the territories of Western Europe occupied by the Nazis.
This Sunday, June 16, will be the 75th anniversary of the death of the pilot, whose whereabouts remained unknown for decades, until in 2001 he managed to locate who was his girlfriend, the Canadian Dorothy O’Brien, who after losing his beloved started a relationship and he married a Canadian sailor.
The historian Alfonso Flores, vice-president of the Mexican Society of Latin American Aeronautical Studies (SMEAL), estimated that in Mexico he is not honored because of ignorance, but the pilot deserves to be remembered, and said that his experience “for many has been something totally new ” The expert explained in an interview with Notimex that in the same way that there were “braceros and many others (who) left as volunteers to the war”, without the government of the time having control over it, the pilot enlisted to participate in the contest.
Pérez Gómez was born in Jalisco on October 8, 1922, arrived in Mexico City, after the death of his mother, to live with his aunts and work as a bank teller. He tried unsuccessfully to enter the Mexican Air Force and aviation in the United States, until he materialized his goal in 1942 in Canada. “His great dream was to be a pilot, in May 1942, when Mexico declares war on Germany and the (other two) countries of the Axis: Japan and Italy, he is interested in participating. He can not do it in Mexico, he goes to Canada to volunteer, without speaking English, but they accept him on the condition that he learns, “he explained.
After graduating in Canada, he was assigned to fly fighter jets and then transferred with his squadron to England, when the allied countries planned the Normandy landings. Luis was assigned to a British plane Spitfire IX, with which he began to operate missions even before the landing on June 6, in support of ships or bombers, and then, on June 15, the aircraft was sent to a runway in Normandy, for the allied actions already from French territory.
The pilot had a sentimental relationship with a girl, Dorothy O’Brien, whom he left as a reference when he left the war front, and who was the person notified of his disappearance, first, and after his death in combat. Luis’s plane was part of a contingent of four aircraft that on June 16 met eight Germans, with which they engaged in what was then known as a “dogfight”, and in the end the device collapsed in the small community of Sassy.
The settlers picked up his body, took away his credentials to prevent the Germans from identifying him, and buried him in the church of the town with the idea that he was English or Canadian, so they placed a plaque for him as Pilot of Canada. His ex-girlfriend Dorothy married years later with a sailor, and already in his retirement decided to visit the graves of soldiers from the United States, Canada and England, in France, where in 2001 he located the grave of Pérez Gómez through a community of friends , and could identify him as a Mexican.
The historian noted that on June 16, 2004, in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Normandy landings, Dorothy, accompanied by some veterans and family members, notified the Mexican Embassy in France of their discovery. “It is the first time that the Mexican government finds out that there was a Mexican” among the military fallen in the Second World War in European territory, according to Flores.
He said that in the small town of Sassy there is now a place called “Pérez Gómez” and only in 2004 he was remembered in Mexico. “Nothing was ever done again,” said the specialist, but would deserve “at least to spread and know the history of this young Mexican.”