Victor MaghakianFriday, January 22, 2021
Victor Maghakian, also known as Captain Victor "Transport" Maghakian (December 30, 1915 – August 17, 1977), was an Armenian American member of the United States Marine Corps during World War II. Having received over two dozen medals and awards, he is considered one of the most decorated American soldiers of the war.
Victor Maghakian was born on December 30, 1915, in Chicago, Illinois, to an Armenian family and was the oldest of four brothers and three sisters. Maghakian's great-grandfather was a caravan driver in the Middle-East and was respected for his military prowess. It is noted that his great-grandfather killed 112 enemy Turkish soldiers in his lifetime. Maghakian's father worked in the steel mill. Victor took up much of the responsibility of raising his younger siblings. It was noted by his sister in 2008 that "he was a quiet and dedicated man and was always very calm, except for war. He was such a giving man. In 1930, the Maghakian family moved to San Diego, California, where he originally decided to join the United States Navy. However, on the way to see the recruiter, Maghakian stopped by to watch Pride of the Marines (1936) starring Charles Bickford. After gaining inspiration from the movie, Maghakian decided not to join the Navy and instead enlist in the Marines. Having lived in San Diego for nine years, the Maghakian family moved to Fresno, California, where they lived next to the family of writer William Saroyan on the corner of M Street and Monterrey Avenue in Old Armenia Town.
In 1936, after Maghakian enlisted in the Marine Corps, he was sent to Asia. He was stationed in the Philippines and China for four years. During the Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) he was a member of the expedition force in Shanghai. After being sent to many countries, Maghakian's understanding of foreign bases and societies earned him the nickname "Transport." Other sources say however that he was nicknamed as such because he handled transportation vehicles well. In 1939 Maghakian returned to Fresno where he became a Fresno County deputy sheriff and was assigned to safeguard power installations and dams of the California Edison Company near the Sierra Nevada. Upon hearing news of the Pearl Harbor attack and America's subsequent participation in the war effort, Maghakian reenlisted in the Marine Corps on January 3, 1942. His brothers Harry and Michael also served. During his service with the 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions and the Raiders, Maghakian fought in seven major battles and was wounded three times.
After his participation in World War II, Maghakian became 60 percent disabled. He was a patient at the U.S. Naval hospital in Quantico, Virginia, in October 1945. He then went for more treatment at the Naval hospital in Philadelphia. In 1946, he was subsequently discharged from military duty as a Captain. He returned to Fresno and later moved to Las Vegas where he became a hotel executive and a security consultant from 1954 to 1974. He was also a member of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
In 1974, Maghakian returned to Fresno, dying on August 17, 1977, at the age of 61. He is buried at the Armenian Ararat Cemetery in Fresno.