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Famous American Armenians - continued


As a Marine gunnery sergeant, Victor Maghakian participated in some of the bloodiest fighting in the South Pacific during World War II. He was a member of Lt. Col. Evans F. Carlson's famed Second raider Battalion and participated in a raid on a Japanese garrison on Makin Island, August 17, 1942. Maghakian was the first casualty of the landing force during the raid but insisted on returning to the front after receiving medical Aid. The invasion was later the basis of the movie "Gung Ho." For Maghakian's skill and bravery, he was awarded the Navy Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor in importance. In December, 1942, he was wounded again as his battalion battled the Japanese in the Solomon' Islands. He was discharged from active service in 1946 as a captain. He returned to Fresno and later lived in Las Vegas where he served on the Nevada State Game Control Board. Maghakian, who died in 1977, was one of the most decorated soldiers in World War II, receiving over two dozen medals for heroism including two Silver Stars, the Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts.

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During his life, writer William Saroyan present to the world a variety of characters who experienced the bleakness of reality, but kept hoping for the promise of tomorrow. Saroyan was born in Fresno, and spent some time in an orphanage after his father died. He was later reunited with his family and began working in a vineyard. Saroyan listened to the stories of the immigrants concerning difficulties of trying to maintain their values and customs in a new land. Many of the people in Saroyan's early life resurfaced later in his novels, short stories and plays, Saroyan decided at the age of 14 that he would be a writer. By age 26, he had published The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze and was on his way to a career that would include a Pulitzer Prize for the play "The time of your life." In his book, The Human Comedy, Saroyan displays a little of his own philosophy of life: "Every man in the world is better than someone else. And not as good as someone else." Five days before his death in 1981, Saroyan called Associated Press to leave a posthumous statement: "Everybody has got to die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case. Now what?"

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