interview by Annie M. Lopez
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I was born near Convent and Simpson Streets, near the family drug and grocery store run by the Yrun family and called "Cuatro Esquinas" (four comers). We moved several times.
I attended Carrillo School. My maternal grandmother, Dona Maria Lujan, had taught me English and I was fluent in that language. We later moved to Fort Lowell and Dodge and I attended school where Mexicans were not liked. I grew up with some anger. I learned to defend myself and was always ready for a fight.
Learning English [678K]
When we lived in National City, owned by Evo de Concini, I was attending Wakefield School. All of my mother's brothers and sisters moved near us and we were all very family oriented. We grew up more like brothers and sisters than cousins.
Working for DeConcini [623K]
We worked all of the time, first by chopping wood and then we helped make adobes for the house my father built. It had dirt floors and we lived there through all of my formative years.
Building adobe house [653K]
When I was about 13 or 14 I worked at "La Casa Blanca" (White House Department Store) located on Congress Street west of Stone Avenue. Part of my job was to bring stock downstairs and put it where it belonged. Then I was offered a job by the shoe department manager, Bill Wright - a great person who taught me a lot and when he opened his own shoe store I went to work for him.
The family consisted of mom and dad, a sister and myself. My father worked for Pacific Fruit Express when I was small, then he worked for the W.P.A. and then did landscaping at the old library and Armory Park. He retired from Ruben Gold Furniture Store.
I served in the Army and during World War II I was sent to Japan. I was a Sergeant and then became an M.P. I left the Army in 1947 and came back to Tucson where I attended the University of Arizona.
I joined the Marine Corps Reserve in 1947 when asked by two of my good friends, Jimmy and Robert Fisher. I received all the training that makes you tough - what the Marine Corps is known for.
When we were activated I went to Camp Pendleton by train. We were all considered to be part of FMF (Fleet Marine Force) - in laymen's language we were "grunts" in the Infantry. I was assigned to 2nd Battalion Fox Company Anti-tank Platoon (Bazooka Section) and my weapon was a 3.5 Bazooka, a new device. On board ship we were taught how to track a tank by trying to track the flying fish as they came out of the ocean flying through the air.
We went in on the first wave of Inchon at Blue Beach and headed for Yondungpo on the Inchon Highway where we had a big "fire fight". One of the places we were holding was an Asahi Beer factory, which added to our incentive to take it as quickly as possible. There was a lot of fighting, day and night before Yondungpo.
In Seoul we did block-to-block fighting and at a building near a big park was where Jesus Carrasco was killed by a shell that came through a wall. Minutes later we were on our way, going through buildings. We slammed down a door in one building where we found all the furniture covered with quilts. I decided to poke all the quilts with my bayonet and as I hit one I heard a yelp. Immediately I had all the guys surround that area and when we pulled the quilt off we found a North Korean Colonel hiding under it. We apprehended him and because he was carrying valuable documents which we couldn't read we turned him over to our Headquarters' people as soon as possible. There's something about those Generals - they never come back and tell you "Hey, nice going guys!"
We then secured what we were after and went back to Inchon where we boarded ship to make a landing farther up from the 38th parallel at Wonsan for three days or so there was no action and it was Thanksgiving - we had a football game at Wonsan that we called the "Turkey Bowl".
We received word we were going to be attacked by Guerillas from North Korea called "The Diamond Gang". They attacked but we were able to hold them off and they dispersed back up the hill. We didn't see them again. This all happened in Kojo, right by the beach. Bobby Fisher's outfit was there just before the fight and I looked for him afterward but didn't see him.
We did some fighting up at Kotori where the Chinese Mongolians had broken through the Yalo river, heading into North Korea. The 5th Marines and other Marine units were engaged in heavier fighting. The hill on the right flank was where Manny Moreno was killed.
Fox Company was the last one out of Kotori and just previous to that several Mongolian troops had been captured by the Marines ahead of us. At Yudamni they came through our lines and we had to process them as prisoners. I remember one of them was wearing the jacket of Art Cocio, a tanker from Tucson. I attempted to take the jacket away but wasn't allowed to. Later I learned that because of the freezing weather the tanks had been abandoned and apparently Art had left his jacket inside the tank.
When we returned to Tucson we were able to laugh about the whole thing. I remember meeting Chesty Puller (Colonel, USMC) briefly - he was very short, his head coming to about my shoulder. As he came by he slapped me on the butt with his hand and said "Here, Jarhead, have a drink" - he was all guts, that little guy.
Back in Inchon I had injured my wrist diving for cover and as we got into colder weather it became harder to move. I couldn't hold my M- 1 in the proper way. A very good friend, Al Corral, came to look for me; I had gone to "fetch a pail of water" and while he waited for me he sat on my glasses. I went to Pusan to replace my glasses and have my wrist bandaged. I fell in love with the Doctor; after x-rays he said I had a wrist fracture that wouldn't heal so I was sent to hospital on the Naval Base at Yokuska from where I was sent back to Camp Pendleton. We were flown to Hawaii and from there to Treasure Island. Because my records were lost I spent about a month at Pendleton and was discharged after I threatened to leave. I arrived back in Tucson in November and was to report to Davis-Monthan for treatment; they told me to go to the V.A. Hospital; the V.A. Hospital sent me back to D-M. I was a ping-pong ball for a while - until I screamed. Somebody pays attention if you scream loud enough!
Some things I remember: one time we counted how many guys had guitars then we counted M- 1 rifles and I'll bet we had more guitars than rifles (we were well armed); then, everyone said Hector Leon was my girlfriend, that he was engaged to me - Hector and I still carry on about it, "Mi guerita"*; one time when our foxholes were close together and Archie, from Oakland, was Hector's foxhole buddy, I called out the password as I came close - no answer; I called "Hector", "Archie" and heard Hector say "don't answer, Archie, it might be gooks".
Now that I'm retired I play golf, visit with my friends, do some writing - mostly poetry for myself; I also make myself available as an interpreter; I try to keep myself active.
*My little light skinned one."