Veterans Voices: Robert J. Coronado: U.S. Army in Korea

Sun Columnist Bill Thomas


Phoenix, Ariz., is my hometown, ever since 1930.

I attended the local grade schools, and graduated from Phoenix High School in 1948.

For my early interest in drawing, I worked on a correspondence course in art, along with my work in a little grocery store which was tremendously different than the big supermarkets of today.

I graduated from Phoenix College with an associate of arts degree in engineering followed up by graduating from the University of Arizona with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering.


As World War II wound down, my primary interest was to enlist in the Air Force, but I joined the U. S. Army and served in Korea in 1951-1952.

My duties were in medical aid and later transferred to Headquarters where I served in the Security Platoon.

I was in the 15th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Division.

Two great distinctions about the 3rd Division is they served valiantly in Europe in World War II.

Audey Murphy was in the 3rd, of which he was one of the most decorated soldiers, and a movie was made of his life.

The other great notable fact about the 3rd is that division became one of the first Army units to serve in Iraq.

Civilian life

After service in the Army I attended Phoenix College, majoring in engineering while at the same time I worked for the U.S. Post Office in the Parcel Post Annex.

Due to my short stature, the interviewer doubted that I could lift and toss heavy bags of mail into piles.  On the job, I showed I could even toss the bags to the top of the piles.

In late 1958, I drove to California in my Chevrolet coupe.  I lived in Manhattan Beach until I moved to Huntington Beach in 1967 while I was employed with McDonnell Douglas.

My bride-to-be, Tess, had come to the States from Dublin, Ireland, in 1968, and moved to California.  We met at a party.  We married in 1970, having recently celebrated our 41st anniversary.

During the 1960s-1990s, I worked in the growing aerospace industry with Hughes Aircraft, Douglas Aircraft, McDonald Douglas Astronautics, North American Rockwell, Rockwell International and Aerojet Manufacturing Company.  Also, for three years, I worked at Smith Tool Company, in the oil industry,  (Some of these companies were the same except when they merged with other companies and changed the company names.)

Some of the highlights of my working career were my participation in Zero-G Flight Testing on the Skylab Program Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; also in a task force program at Kennedy Space Center on the Saturn-Apollo Program.

I had the pleasure of witnessing the Launch of Apollo 8 to the moon at KSC in December 1968.  I also enjoyed my work participation as the Apollo landed on the moon.

I retired at the end of 1993.

Veteran life

I am a member of the Seal Beach American Legion Post 857, and Seal Beach Post 4048 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  I serve as chaplain in both Posts.

I also served a one-year term as junior vice commander and one year as Commander of VFW Post 4048.

One of my great pleasures is the camaraderie of the great guys in the Post and the Ladies in the Auxiliary. and our contributions to our Veterans and the community.

Veterans, we need new members.  Come join us.  You’ll be glad.

Bill Thomas of Rossmoor is a Veteran of World War II, and Past Commander of VFW Post 4048, and American Legion Post 857.  For more information, e-mail