Pete Arias was born in 1923, one of nine siblings born to Mexican immigrants. He was raised on a farm in Los Angeles County and joined the Marines one month after Pearl Harbor. He heard about an elite commando unit begin formed and decided to volunteer. After an interview, he was selected for the unit, the 2nd Raider Battalion, under the command of Major Evans Carlson, and assigned to C Company.
As a Raider, Arias went through extensive training and first saw combat on Makin Island in August of 1942. A few months later, Arias and the Raiders were sent to Guadalcanal, where they spent thirty brutal days behind the lines harassing and ambushing a 3,000 man Japanese force in the jungles to the east of Henderson Field, in what came to be known as the “Long Patrol.” Arias’s squad was ambushed at Asamana and nearly wiped out there, but he survived the attack unhurt. Arias also fought with the Raiders on Bougainville, and when the unit was disbanded, fought on Iwo Jima where he was seriously wounded. After his recuperation, he stayed in the reserves, and fought in Korea and Vietnam. He returned to California, married, and worked for CalTrans for many years.