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"And he said to us, ‘If anything comes up out of the water walking up the beach, don’t ask questions; fire first and ask questions later." (Video Interview, 20:25)

   Jose Robert Zaragoza
Collection image
Zaragoza aiming a .45 pistol, Ultihi Atoll, Caroline Islands [1945]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Coast Guard
Unit: Unit 335, Pacific Fleet III (PACFLEET)
Service Location: Ulithi (Caroline Islands); Yap (Caroline Islands); Guam (Mariana Islands); Pacific Theater
Rank: Radarman Third Class
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During the Depression, Los Angeles teen Jose Zaragoza, the son of Mexican immigrants, joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, learning the kind of discipline that would serve him well when he enlisted in the Coast Guard shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was assigned to a walking beach patrol along northern California’s shore, first on his own, then with dogs he helped train. A stint in radar school and further training in a new tracking system called LORAN got him placed on Ulithi, a tiny atoll just east of the Philippines. He manned a tracking station on that hot and lonely outpost until well after the war ended.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (5 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (34 min.)
»Photo Album  (16 photos)
 Official Documents
»Order to Report for Induction
 Other Materials
»Memo to selectees reporting for induction
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»They Also Served: Coast Guard and Merchant Marine
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (5 items)
Enlisted after the Pearl Harbor attack; preferred a Naval career to that of Army; joined the Coast Guard because of a friend; he and a cousin enlisted; how he heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor; his brother had been drafted 8 months earlier and was about to ship out to England. (03:25) First assignment after training to Point Reyes, CA; patrolled the beach for saboteurs who might land there; trained dogs to accompany beach patrollers and attack anyone suspicious; also used horses to patrol; assigned to Eureka in northern California. (03:19) Went to school to be a radar man; trained on LORAN (Long Range Navigation system), new device for tracking ships; shipped out, stopped on Tarawa along the way and saw crosses representing the young Marines who had died there. (02:32)
Explains how LORAN was set up; helped build station on Ulithi and he stayed there until after war ended; hot and lonely; his duties; trying to prevent any small submarines from approaching the atoll to sabotage the equipment; one night, alerted to Condition Red status, an imminent attack; told to fire first on anyone who came from the water but nothing happened; shelling some days later turned out to be Navy returning from Philippines celebrating their big victory over the Japanese; feared a friendly fire accident. (06:12) Still on Ulithi on Christmas Day 1945; relieved that day to go to Guam for R&R; still didn't have enough points to go home; later on Guam, waiting for his name to be called for a ship to take him home; his ship stopped in Australia to pick up more troops; sailed into San Francisco; couldn't sleep that night waiting to see the lights of the city; Coast Guard allowed to go first down the gangway. (04:17) 

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  October 26, 2011
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