Mark Miranda III

“Legacy yet to be written”


            Mark Miranda III (my father) was born in San Francisco, California, on April 19, 1949.  He was named Mark Miranda III, with no middle name, just like his father and grandfather.  His parents were Nicaraguan, from the city of Granada, Nicaragua.  They migrated to the United States around the year of 1947.  His father was the late Mark Miranda II, born December 10, 1917 and died July 31, 1969, at the age of 50.  Mark Miranda II was a carpenter in his time.  Mark Miranda III’s mother was Berta Amalia Guerrero, born July 11, 1920 and died November 18, 1990.  She was a homemaker for some time.  His parents divorced when he was about four years old.  His mother, Berta, later remarried to a man named Sergio Lyola, who became my father’s stepfather.  Henry was born July 17, 1912, in New Mexico and died on June 20, 1970, in San Francisco.  Sergio was a manager of a large appliance store in San Francisco, General Appliance Co.  My father had one full brother, Alberto Miranda, from the first marriage.  Alberto was younger and born on November 7, 1951.  My father had a half sister and brother from the second marriage to Sergio.  His stepbrother Mario Lyola was born on October 28, 1957, and his stepsister Aviana Lyola was born on April 26, 1960. 

            When my father was little, he and his family lived in San Francisco.  About the age of 8 his mother was married to Sergio Lyola and the family moved to Daly City, California, right across the street from March Banks Park, which to my father, was a great location.  He went to school at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School and Little Jeff Junior High.  My father was an avid player of checkers, and won the checker championship at the March Banks Park recreation center.  Another of his favorite pastimes was taking his aunt’s car for a spin around the block (without a license).  He began high school at Jefferson High, but then the family moved to Westborough, which was a newly built neighborhood in South San Francisco, where he attended South San Francisco High School.  He lived in a brand new large house with five bedrooms and three bathrooms.  Another family member lived with the family all this time, Socorro Montalvo, nick named “Coco”, and called dearly “Ali” by the family.  Coco isn’t really related to the family, but she played a significant role in the family, and was considered an aunt.  Coco was born in Granada, Nicaragua, on September 25, 1915, and is still with us today at the age of 90.  Coco was like a second mother to the Miranda and Lyola children.  She always made sure they had some money in their pockets, watched over them, guided them, and did many favors for them.  The hippy movement was gaining popularity in the late 60’s.  My father, as a teenager, did not follow the hippy movement, but he loved the music, especially the Doors and the Jefferson Airplane.  He went to the concerts held at Winterland in San Francisco.  As for a favorite movie star, my father said “John Wayne, because he was like a father figure to me.  He influenced me in my choice to go into the Marine Corps.”

            The Vietnam War sieged on and my father, being of age 18, was on the verge of being drafted into the Army.  Rather than being drafted, my father decided to join the Marine Corps.  He was stationed at the Naval Training Center in San Diego, California, for boot camp.  His family surprised him and came to see him graduate from boot camp.  After that he was trained in motor transport.  Shortly after that, in 1967, he was shipped to Vietnam.  He spent 13 months in Vietnam deep in the “bush”, with the heat, monsoons, mosquitoes, and the enemy.  He was mostly stationed at Da Nang, Dong Ha, and Camp Carroll.  He was also in Quang Tri and Khe San.  Part of his duties was to protect and drive a General around.  He went through a lot in Vietnam.  He had a close call, as one night during a mortar attack, he fell out of his bunk in his sleep as a piece of shrapnel went into his pillow on his bunk.  He would go out with his platoon at night looking for Viet Cong enemy.

The Vietnam War was the war that the United States lost.  Our objective was to preserve South Vietnam as an independent, non-Communist state, and we obviously failed to do that.  The Vietnamese Communist Party, and the North Vietnamese Army, were being formed and developed in the thirties and forties.  In 1975, the North Vietnamese celebrated its victory over South Vietnam.  “…war between the two Vietnams now began in earnest in 1960, the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese were winning it”(Davidson, p. 290).  President Kennedy explored what could be done to meet the growing menace to South Vietnam.  In 1961, he was warned by his counsel, Gen. Maxwell Taylor, about the disadvantages of introducing U.S. troops into South Vietnam, as “…there is no limit to our possible commitment…the introduction of U.S. forces may…risk escalation into a major war in Asia” (Davisdon, p. 296).  However, Taylor sided with introducing troops into South Vietnam, stating that “the introduction of a U.S. military Task Force without delay offers definitely more advantages than it creates risks and difficulties.  In fact, I do not believe that our program to save South Vietnam will succeed without it (Davidson, p 296).”  By 1965, under President Johnson, the first American combat troops arrived in Vietnam to prevent the South Vietnamese government from collapsing.  The war wasn’t over until 1975, when the North Vietnamese troops poured into Saigon.  The United States didn’t achieve its goal and Vietnam became reunified under Communist control.  This was the longest war in history, and claimed the lives of 58,000 Americans, and wounded 304,000 Americans.  3 to 4 million Vietnamese were killed, and 1.5 to 2 million Cambodian and Laos people were killed.

Mark made it home ok, but he was impacted by his experience in Vietnam.  When he first arrived home, he would head for under a table if he heard a loud bang, like a firecracker, or backfire.  He spent the balance of his duty at the Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California.  His entire tour of duty was four years.  In 1969, while my father was still in the Marine Corps, his father Mark Miranda died of a heart attack at the age of 50.  The very next year in 1970, his stepfather Sergio died at the age of 59, which seriously affected the whole family. 

            After my father was discharged from the military, he took a temporary job at Walgreen’s in the camera department, selling cameras.  He also worked temporarily for a gas station.  When his mother decided to move to Milpitas, California, he needed to be closer to his job and got his own apartment in San Bruno, California.  He decided to take advantage of some of the veteran programs that were offered.  He went to a job fair for veterans and he applied for a Mail Technician job for U. S. Customs.  Vietnam Vets were also offered a monthly amount for school expenses if they attended college.  He decided to go to Skyline College and earn an AA degree.  As a Mail Technician for Customs, his duty location was the Oakland Air Mail Facility.  He was doing searches of incoming packages from foreign countries and was making some significant finds, such as diamonds hidden in the heel of a woman’s shoe.  Then later he applied for a Custom’s Inspector position and got the job.  His duties include checking passengers and baggage coming in from foreign countries, searching for contraband and illegal items and makes seizures of illegal goods.  The location of his duties was and still is mostly the San Francisco Airport.  He also covers the San Francisco Piers and Oakland Piers as well searching cargo and cruise ships.  Mark has been involved in some dangerous cases, where he was in an active role in smuggling and drug busts.  He has had good success in his job as Inspector, with lots of responsibility, and is now a Supervisory Inspector.  He was assigned to many Customs projects over the years which required him to visit such places as Honduras, Panama, Italy, and in Columbia, where he spent three months regarding drug smuggling.  My father became a realtor in 1975 and still works as a part time realtor working for Caldwell Banker Realty. 

            My father married at the age of 25.  He was married to Anna Payne for 16 years and then divorced.  They had two children, my brother  Mark Miranda IV, born August 15, 1975, and myself, born June16, 1982.  They lived in Westborough Greens, in South San Francisco.  They divorced in 1988.  Nick later got remarried to Sharon LeRoche, and they lived in San Bruno for about 13 years and then eventually moved to Millbrae.  He has a love for softball and has been playing on softball teams for 30 years.  Mark takes pride in his houses and loves to constantly remodel his home as it increases the value of the property.  Not too long ago, he became a grandfather to his first grandchild, Maureen Miranda, daughter of Mark Miranda IV, who was born on January 20, 2002.

            During the interview with my father, through my father’s pride in being a Marine, I learned that the following holds true for my father, “Marines enjoy a reputation for prowess in combat, a reputation earned in battles ‘in every clime and place’ throughout our nation’s history.  Yet, it has been said that the most important contribution the Marine Corps has made to our nation is not that it has fought and won battles.  Rather, its most enduring contribution is that it makes Marines, imbues them with extraordinary mettle, and returns the great majority to civilian life with exceptional qualities of confidence, determination, leadership, and a winning spirit that gives strength to our national character.  These ‘once a Marine, always a Marine’ citizens, whatever their successes, never abandon the pride instilled in them, or their identification with, the Corps” (Simmons & Moskin, 1998, pp. 17-19).

I can now see that the Marine Corps was a big part in paving the way for what my father has accomplished today.  At the end of the interview with my father, he stated that “My legacy is still yet to be written.”




Davidson, P. B. (1988), The history 1946-1975 Vietnam at war.  Novato, CA:  Presidio Press.


Simmons, H. S. and Moskin, J. R. (1998), The Marines.  Hong Kong:  Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, Inc.