Julie Boyd & Dr. Eileen Lockhart

Bluejacket Legacy

Born into the greatest generation, Robert “Bob” Barrigan grew up with his mother, Jesse, and his father, Raul, a family of Greek and Native American descent who were living in a working-class immigrant suburb of Los Angeles, California. Growing up during the Depression, Bob lived in poverty without ever realizing what he lacked. At the age of ten, he was sent to live with his grandparents, who were the cook and foreman of Miller’s 101 Ranch. It was there he worked alongside Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Geronimo, Will Rogers, and others.

When he was 17, encouraged by his father, Bob signed up for the Coast Guard and later discovered he had been tricked into enlisting in the Navy. There, he discovered his talents for aviation mechanics, and realized he was on his way toward achieving his childhood dream of flying. Arriving in Pearl Harbor in October 1941, Bob enjoyed his first taste of a sailor’s life. Then on December 7, 1941 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and he watched his friends die amid chaos. Standing on top of a naval tower and looking into the eyes of the enemy, Bob experienced a defining moment that changed his life.

Throughout his naval career, he met many illustrious characters. Among them were Arthur Godfrey, Tuskegee airmen, and female Waves. He served in the Pacific Theater at Pearl Harbor, Wake Island, and the Battle of the Coral Sea, and later worked as an aviation mechanic on the Island of Espiritu Santo. Eventually he transferred to Anacostia Naval Station, in Washington, D.C. There his talents for military aviation, radar, and electronics secured him a civil position with the Federal Aviation Agency following his military retirement.

Prior to Bob’s death in 2013, he gave talks to community, military groups, and interested historians about his experiences during WWII. A photograph of him at Pearl Harbor is displayed in the Pearl Harbor Memorial and the Pensacola National Naval Museum.

Through Bob’s true life story, the reader experiences his journey through historical events that shaped our nation. Military and history enthusiasts are sure to enjoy the details of famous battles, and the rise of radar, electronics, and the jet age.


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