Citation
José P. Martinez : among the valient

Material Information

Title:
José P. Martinez : among the valient
Series Title:
This week in history
Creator:
Castro, Richard T.
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
Richard T. Castron
Publication Date:
Language:
English

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Auraria Library
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
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Copyright [name of copyright holder or Creator or Publisher as appropriate]. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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Full Text


THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
JOSE P. MARTINEZ: AMONG THE VALIANT
BY
Richard Castro
It was May 26, 1943 and much had taken place in both the Pacific and the European Theaters of war. The Marines had captured Guadalcanal and now were driving through the Solomons and New Guinea. The battle of North Africa had ended with
THE CAPTURE OF THE ONCE MIGHTY AFRICA CORPS.
In the Aleutians, the United States initiated a move to
DRIVE OFF THE JAPANESE THAT WERE IN ATTU AND KlSKA, AND THE ENSUING EVENTS UNCOVER ANOTHER "FIRST" FOR MEXICAN AMERICAN SOLDIERS OF W.W.II. FOR IT WAS HERE THAT PRIVATE JOSE P.
Martinez made history, graphically told by Raul Morin in his book "Among the Valiant."
It was on this date that Martinez and his platoon were
ORDERED TO ENGAGE JAPANESE TROOPS WHO WERE ENTRENCHED ON A HILL THAT WAS VITAL TO THE AMERICAN EFFORT.
Martinez and the other members of the platoon made slow
PROGRESS UP THE HILL, MOVING CAUTIOUSLY FROM ROCK TO ROCK WHILE INTENSE MACHINE GUN, RIFLE, AND MORTAR FIRE STYMIED THEIR
drive. They were pinned down and no one dared to move out into


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THE HAIL OF FIRE THE JAPANESE POURED DOWN, THE MEN SOUGHT PROTECTION FROM THE EXPLODING MORTAR SHELLS THAT WERE FALLING ALL AROUND. SEEKING TO BREAK OUT OF THE DESPERATE SITUATION, THE C.O. THEN ASKED FOR A RIFLE PLATOON TO MOVE UP AT ALL COSTS.
Before the word reached the Sergeant down the line, a
LONE FIGURE ROSE FROM THE GROUND AND STARTED UP. IT WAS PVT.
Jose P. Martinez.
Having been chosen to handle the Browning Automatic Rifle
FOR THE PLATOON, MARTINEZ DECIDED TO TAKE MATTERS INTO HIS OWN HANDS. HE FELT IT WAS HIS DUTY TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THEIR SITUATION. IN THE FACE OF HOSTILE FIRE, HE ROSE TO HIS FEET AND TOOK OFF ALONE. NOW AND THEN HE WOULD WAVE AN ARM TO THE
OTHERS TO FOLLOW HIM. "COME ON, LET'S GO!", HE WOULD YELL.
The pinned-down G.I.'s couldn't believe their eyes. Here was Marty, the quiet Mexican kid from Colorado, who wasn't
EVEN IN CHARGE OF THE RIFLE SQUAD, SETTING THE EXAMPLE TO
follow. Martinez climbed steadily up with the battalion
FOLLOWING HIM. INCREDIBLE, THE WHOLE BATTALION WAS MOVING FORWARD, LED BY A PRIVATE! ON REACHING THE BENCH-LIKE PLATEAU, HE ENGAGED THE JAPANESE IN TWO FOXHOLES. THEIR RIFLE FIRE WAS NO MATCH FOR MARTINEZ' BLAZING BAR. HE CLEANED OUT THE TWO NESTS AND HURLED HAND GRENADES AT THE OTHER ENEMY SOLDIERS
above him. The Japanese increased their machine gun and rifle
FIRE.


3
He was forced to move across open ground. Now he faced
HEAVY CROSSFIRE FROM ABOVE AND FRONTAL FIRE FROM THE FOXHOLES.
He came upon two enemy trenches. Jumping in, he quickly opened up with his Browning automatic and killed five more of the enemy. Without hesitation, the fearless G.I. from Colorado
THEN MOVED UP TO THE SECOND TRENCH AND ACCOUNTED FOR TWO MORE
Japanese. He reached the pass still under heavy fire from
THE SURROUNDING RIDGES. STANDING ON THE RIDGE, OVERLOOKING THE PASS LEADING INTO THE CHICHAGOF HARBOR, MARTINEZ EMPTIED HIS RIFLE INTO THE POSITIONS JUST BELOW AND BEYOND THE PASS.
The last part of his citation reads, "....he was mortally
WOUNDED WITH HIS RIFLE STILL AT HIS SHOULDER, ABSORBING ALL ENEMY FIRE AND PERMITTING ALL UNITS TO MOVE UP BEHIND HIM AND SUCCESSFULLY TAKE THE PASS."
Thus, the 23 year old Martinez died a glorious death and the Alaskan hills were covered with American blood. Many
OTHERS FOUGHT, BLED AND DIED IN THE ALEUTIAN CAMPAIGN, BUT
it was a Private, a former farm laborer, Jose Martinez' heroic
ACTION THAT ENABLED THE AMERICAN FORCES TO CLEAR THE PASS OF
Japanese by May 30th. He earned praise, admiration and
RECOMMENDATION FOR THE CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR FROM HIS FELLOW SOLDIERS, COMMANDING OFFICERS AND BATTALION COMMANDER.


4
The glory of Joe Martinez will never be forgotten because
HISTORIANS AND EDUCATORS HAVE SEEN FIT TO HAVE HIS STORY TOLD AND RETOLD IN AMERICAN COLLEGE CLASSROOMS, AND WRITTEN IN THE JUNIOR AND SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL HISTORY BOOKS ALL OVER AMERICA,
Annual scholarships bear his name and a local Chapter of the Disabled American Veterans has been named in his honor in Colorado, American Legion Posts in Denver and Los Angeles are
NAMED AFTER THIS MEXI CAN-AMERI CAN HERO. THIS SUMMER A STATUE
of Jose Martinez designed by Manuel Martinez will be erected on State land across from the State Capitol in Denver,
All were proud of Joe, but Mexican-Americans were just
A LITTLE MORE PROUD OF HIM. HlS WIDELY HERALDED ACHIEVEMENT
OCCURRED AT A TIME WHEN ATTITUDES TOWARD MEXICANS IN THE UNITED
States were at a low ebb because of unfortunate happenings in Los Angeles.
The Zoot-Suit riots in the Angel City had left a very
BAD IMPRESSION OF MEXICAN-AMERICANS THROUGHOUT AMERICA. FRANK
Lares of Los Angeles, who was then stationed in Fort Greely with Battery D, 250th Coast Artillary, in Kodiak Island, Alaska, recalls that the Pachuco Riots of June, 1943, were
IN ALL THE HEADLINES, EVEN IN ALASKA, HE REMEMBERS HOW UNCOMFORTABLE HE FELT WHEN HIS OWN FELLOW COMRADES STATIONED AT THE SAME CAMP WOULD GIVE HIM DIRTY LOOKS AND ASK EMBARASSING QUESTIONS, SUCH AS, "WHAT KIND OF CITIZENS ARE THOSE MEXICAN


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ZOOT-SUITERS THAT WOULD BEAT UP ON OUR OWN NAVY MEN?"
After the news got around about Jose P, Martinez' one-man
HEROIC DRIVE IN THE ALEUTIANS, NO QUESTIONS WERE ASKED ABOUT PACHUCO GANGS, LARES FELT VERY PROUD OF MARTINEZ AND VERY PROUD THAT HE WAS A MEXI CAN-AMERI CAN.
Next week I will share the real truth about the Zoot Suit Riots and how hundreds of Mexican American youth were used
AS SCAPEGOATS OF THE HEARST PRESS.
Richard Castro, Executive Director Agency For Human Rights And Community Relations


Full Text

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. . THIS WEEK IN HISTORY JOSE P. MARTINEZ: AMONG THE VALIANT BY RICHARD CASTRO IT WAS MAY 26, 1943 AND MUCH HAD TAKEN PLACE IN BOTH THE PACIFIC AND THE EUROPEAN THEATERS OF WAR. THE MARINES HAD CAPTURED GUADALCANAL AND NOW WERE DRIVING THROUGH THE SOLOMONS AND NEW GuINEA. THE BATTLE OF 11lORTH AFRICA HAD ENDED WITH THE CAPTURE OF THE ONCE MIGHTY AFRICA CORPS. IN THE ALEUTIANS, THE UNITED STATES INITIATED A MOVE TO DRIVE OFF THE JAPANESE THAT WERE IN ATTU AND KISKA, AND THE ENSUING EVENTS UNCOVER ANOTHER "FIRST" FOR MEXICAN AMERICAN SOLDIERS OF W.W.II. FOR IT WAS HERE THAT PRIVATE JOSE P. MART I NEZ MADE HI STORY, GRAPH I CALLY TOLD BY RAUL MORIN IN HIS BOOK "AMONG THE VALIANT." IT WAS ON THIS DATE THAT MARTINEZ AND HIS PLATOON WERE ORDERED TO ENGAGE JAPANESE TROOPS WHO WERE ENTRENCHED ON A HILL THAT WAS VITAL TO THE AMERICAN EFFORT. MARTI NEZ AND THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE PLATOON MADE SLOW PROGRESS UP THE HILL MOVING CAUTIOUSLY FROM ROCK TO ROCK WHILE INTENSE MACHINE GUN, RIFLE, AND MORTAR FIRE STYMIED THEIR DRIVE. THEY WERE PINNED DOWN AND NO ONE DARED TO MOVE OUT INTO

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2 THE HAIL OF FIRE THE JAPANESE POURED DOWN, THE MEN SOUGHT PROTECT I ON FROM THE EXPLODING MORTAR SHELLS THAT WERE FAL L1 NG ALL AROUND. SEEKING TO BREAK OUT OF THE DESPERATE SITUATION, THE C.O. THEN ASKED FOR A RIFLE PLATOON TO MOVE UP AT ALL COSTS. BEFORE THE WORD REACHED THE SERGEANT DOWN THE LINE, A LONE FIGURE ROSE FROM THE GROUND AND STARTED UP, IT WAS PVT, JOSE P. MARTINEZ. HAYING BEEN CHOSEN TO HANDLE THE BROWNING A ,UTOMAT I C RIFLE FOR THE PLATOON, MARTINEZ DECIDED TO TAKE MATTERS INTO HIS OWN HANDS. HE FELT IT WAS HIS DUTY TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THEIR SITUATION. IN THE FACE OF HOSTILE FIRL HE ROSE TO HIS FEET AND TOOK OFF ALONE, NOW AND THEN HE WOULD WAVE AN ARM TO THE OTHERS TO FOLLOW HIM. "COME ON, LET'S GO!", HE WOULD YELL. THE pINNED-DOWN G I I I Is COULDN IT BELl EVE THEIR EYES I HERE WAS MARTY, THE QUIET MEXICAN KID FROM COLORADO, WHO WASN'T EVEN IN CHARGE OF THE RIFLE SQUAD, SETTING THE EXAMPLE TO FOLLOW. MARTINEZ CLIMBED STEADILY UP WITH THE BATTALION FOLLOWING HIM. INCREDIBLE, THE WHOLE BATTALION WAS MOVING FORWARD, LED BY A PRIVATE! ON REACHING THE BENCH-LIKE PLATEAU, HE ENGAGED THE JAPANESE IN TWO FOXHOLES. THEIR RIFLE FIRE WAS NO MATCH FOR MART I NEZ' BLAZING BAR, HE CLEANED OUT THE TWO NESTS AND HURLED HAND GRENADES AT THE OTHER ENEMY SOLDIERS ABOVE HIM. THE JAPANESE INCREASED THEIR MACHINE GUN AND RIFLE FIRE.

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3 HE WAS FORCED TO MOVE ACROSS OPEN GROUND, Now HE FACED HEAVY CROSSFIRE FROM ABOVE AND FRONTAL FIRE FROM THE FOXHOLES. HE CAME UPON TWO ENEMY TRENCHES. JUMPING IN, HE QUICKLY OPENED UP WITH HIS BROWNING AUTOMATIC AND KILLED FIVE MORE OF THE ENEMY. WITHOUT HESITATION, THE FEARLESS G. I, FROM COLORADO THEN MOVED UP TO THE SECOND TRENCH AND ACCOUNTED FOR TWO MORE JAPANESE, HE REACHED THE PASS STILL UNDER HEAVY FIRE FROM THE SURROUNDING RIDGES, STAND I NG ON THE R I DGL OVERLOOKING THE PASS LEADING INTO THE CHICHAGOF HARBOR, MART I NEZ EMPTIED HIS RIFLE INTO THE POSITIONS JUST BELOW AND BEYOND THE PASS. THE LAST PART OF HIS CITATION READS, ",,,.HE WAS MORTALLY WOUNDED WITH HIS RIFLE STILL AT HIS SHOULDER, ABSORBING ALL ENEMY FIRE AND PERMITTING ALL UNITS TO MOVE UP BEHIND HIM AND SUCCESSFULLY TAKE THE PASS." THUS, THE 23 YEAR OLD MARTINEZ DIED A GLORIOUS DEATH AND THE ALASKAN HILLS WERE COVERED WITH AMERICAN BLOOD. MANY OTHERS FOUGHT, BLED AND DIED IN THE ALEUT I AN CAMPAIGN, BUT IT WAS A PRIVATE, A FORMER FARM LABORER, JOSE MARTINEZ' HEROIC ACTION THAT ENABLED THE AMERICAN FORCES TO CLEAR THE PASS OF JAPANESE BY MAY 30TH. HE EARNED PRAISE, ADMIRATION AND RECOMMENDATION FOR THE CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR FROM HIS FELLOW SOLDIERS, COMMANDING OFFICERS AND BATTALION COMMANDER.

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4 THE GLORY OF JoE MARTINEZ WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN BECAUSE HISTORIANS AND EDUCATORS HAVE SEEN FIT TO HAVE HIS STORY TOLD AND RETOLD IN AMERICAN COLLEGE CLASSROOMS 1 AND WRITTEN IN THE JUNIOR AND SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL HISTORY BOOKS ALL OVER AMERICA. ANNUAL SCHOLARSHIPS BEAR HIS NAME AND A LOCAL CHAPTER OF THE DISABLED AMERICAN VETERANS HAS BEEN NAMED IN HIS HONOR IN COLORADO, AMERICAN LEG I ON POSTS IN DENVER AND Los ANGELES ARE NAMED AFTER THIS MEXICAN-AMERICAN HERO, THIS SUMMER A STATUE OF JOSE MART I NEZ DESIGNED BY MANUEL MART I NEZ WILL BE ERECTED ON STATE LAND ACROSS FROM THE STATE CAPITOL IN DENVER. ALL WERE PROUD OF BUT MEXICAN-AMERICANS WERE JUST A LITTLE MORE PROUD OF HIM. HIS WIDELY HERALDED ACHIEVEMENT OCCURRED AT A TIME WHEN ATTITUDES TOWARD MEXICANS IN THE UNITED STATES WERE AT A LOW EBB BECAUSE OF UNFORTUNATE HAPPENINGS IN Los ANGELES. THE ZOOT-SUIT RIOTS IN THE ANGEL CITY HAD LEFT A VERY BAD IMPRESSION OF MEXICAN-AMERICANS THROUGHOUT AMERICA. FRANK LARES OF Los ANGELES 1 WHO WAS THEN STATIONED IN FORT GREELY WITH BATTERY 250TH COAST ARTILLARY1 IN KODIAK RECALLS THAT THE PACHUCO RIOTS OF WERE IN ALL THE HEADLINES 1 EVEN IN ALASKA, HE REMEMBERS HOW UNCOMFORTABLE HE FELT WHEN HIS OWN FELLOW COMRADES STATIONED AT THE SAME CAMP WOULD GIVE HIM DIRTY LOOKS AND ASK EMBARASSING SUCH AS1 uWHAT KIND OF CITIZENS ARE THOSE MEXICAN

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5 ZOOT-SUITERS THAT WOULD BEAT UP ON OUR OWN NAVY MEN?u AFTER THE NEWS GOT AROUND ABOUT JOSE P. MARTINEZ' ONE-MAN HEROIC DRIVE IN THE ALEUTIANS 1 NO QUESTIONS WERE AS KED ABOUT PACHUCO GANGS, LARES FELT VERY PROUD OF MART I NEZ AND VERY PROUD THAT HE WAS A MEXICAN-AMERICAN. NEXT WEEK l WILL SHARE THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT THE ZOOT SUIT RIOTS AND HOW HUNDREDS OF MEXICAN AMERICAN YOUTH WERE USED AS SCAPEGOATS OF THE HEARST PRESS. RICHARD EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AGENCY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS