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From the Archives: 1940 deployment to Hawaii

From the Archives: 1940 deployment to Hawaii
Oct. 31, 1940: Private John G. Winbury gives a hug to his son Robert Austin Winbury, 2, as he prepares to sail to Hawaii with the California 251st Coast Artillery, National Guard. (Robert Jakobsen / Los Angeles Times)

In 1940, the United States expanded its military. Several units were deployed to expanded Pacific bases.

The 251st Coast Artillery was made up of 1,200 National Guardsmen from the San Diego, Long Beach and San Pedro areas. The unit was ordered into service on Sept. 16, 1940, and, after training in Ventura, was transferred to Hawaii.

On Oct. 31, 1940, about 750 men from the 251st boarded the luxury liner Washington. They joined 1,200 new sailors and 1,000 shipyard workers already on board.

The remainder of the 251st shipped out to Hawaii on Nov. 17, 1940.

The 251st, an antiaircraft unit, saw action at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and was credited with destroying at least two attacking Japanese planes. During World War II, the regiment served in Fiji, Bougainville and the Philippines.

Five photos of the 251st deployment by Times staff photographer Robert Jakobsen were published in the Nov. 17, 1940, Sunday rotogravure section. This photo was the lead image.

This image went on to win several major awards. It won first place in features in the 1942 Associated Press annual photo contest for California and Nevada. In 1943, Jakobsen's photo won fourth place in news in the national AP contest. It later appeared on page 53 of the 1955 book “The Family of Man.”

This photo of Pvt. John Winbury also appeared as the Picture of the Week in the Nov. 25, 1940, issue of Life magazine. Life magazine reported, "The dock in Los Angeles harbor was crowded with 743 other men, all dressed like Robert's father, who were saying goodbye to other boys and girls like Robert and other women like Robert's mother. Robert's father called him "Butch" and told him to chin up, but Robert was not to be consoled."

This post was originally published on Dec. 7, 2010.

See more from the Los Angeles Times archives here

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