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- José P. Martinez : among the valient [ version 2 ]
- Series Title:
- This week in history
- Castro, Richard T.
- Place of Publication:
- Denver, CO
- Richard T. Castron
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- Auraria Library
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- Auraria Library
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JOSE P, MARTINEZ: AMONG THE VALIANT
As WE SPEND THIS MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND OF PICNICS IN THE PARK, PARADES .AND CELEBRATIONS, LET'S NOT FORGET THOSE WHO HAVE GIVEN THEIR LIVES SO THAT WE CAN ENJOY THE BENEFITS OF A FREE SOCIETY.
One of those individuals who gave his life for the cause
OF FREEDOM WAS JOSE P. MARTINEZ, A PROUD COLORADOAN. ALMOST 45 YEARS AGO TO THE DAY, MARTINEZ LED A BRAVE CHARGE UP A HILL IN A FAR OFF LAND AND WAS KILLED. FOR HIS BRAVERY HE WAS AWARDED
the Congressional Medal of Honor (posthumously).
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. 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 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
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 GO1.", HE WOULD YELL.
The pinned-down G.I.'s couldn't believe their eyes. Here was Jose, 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
- 3 -
HAND GRENADES AT THE OTHER ENEMY SOLDIERS ABOVE HIM. THE
Japanese increased their machine gun and rifle fire.
He was forced to move across open ground. Now he faced
HEAVY CROSSFI R.E 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.
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 MEXICAN AMERICAN 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 famous "Zoot Suit Riots" were taking place. Nearly 1,000 young Hispanic American men were beaten, stripped of their
CLOTHES AND HAD THEIR HAIR SHAVEN OFF BY ARMY AND NAVY PERSONNEL BASED ON THE WEST COAST.
Mexican Americans served with pride and distinction during World War II. As an ethnic group, they received more Congressional Medal of Honor Awards than any other. However,
WHEN THEY RETURNED HOME, MANY FOUND THE SAME RACISM AND STEREOTYPES THAT THEY HAD CONFRONTED WHEN THEY LEFT.
In Texas, a young Mexican American killed in the war was
DENIED ACCESS TO BE BURIED IN A PUBLIC CEMETARY RESERVED FOR
"Whites Only." It -was this incident that started the American G.I. Forum.
For forty years now the Forum has been a leading civil
RIGHTS ORGANIZAITON FIGHTING FOR VETERANS RIGHTS, EDUCATION, VOTER REGISTRATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS. THE COLORADO G.I. FORUM WILL BE HAVING THEIR STATEWIDE CONFERENCE ON JUNE 10 AND llTH.
This conference will serve as a reminder that the fight for
FREEDOM AROUND THE WORLD IS ADMIRABLE, BUT THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM BEGINS AT HOME.
Richard Castro, Executive Director Agency For Human Rights and Community Relations
'â€¢ JOSE P. MARTINEZ: AMONG THE VALIANT BY RICHARD CASTRO As WE SPEND THIS MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND OF PICNICS IN THE PARK1 PARADES .AND LET'S NOT FORGET THOSE WHO HAVE GIVEN THEIR LIVES SO THAT WE CAN ENJOY THE BENEFITS OF A FREE SOCIETY. ONE OF THOSE INDIVIDUALS WHO GAVE HIS LIFE FOR THE CAUSE oF FREEDOM wAs JosE P. MART I NEZ I A PROUD CoLORADOAN. ALMOST 45 YEARS AGO TO THE DAY 1 MART I NEZ LED A BRAVE CHARGE UP A HILL IN A FAR OFF LAND AND WAS KILLED. FOR HIS BRAVERY HE WAS AWARDED THE CONGRESSIONAL.MEDAL OF HONOR (POSTHUMOUSLY). IT WAS MAY 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 THE UNITED STATES INITIATED A MOVE TO DRIVE OFF THE JAPANESE THAT WERE IN ATTU. AND KISKA. IT WAS HERE THAT PRIVATE JOSE P. MARTINEZ MADE 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. /
.. 2 MART I NEZ AND THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE PLATOON MADE SLOW PROGRESS UP THE HILL, MOVING CAUTIOUSLY FROM ROCK TO ROCK WHILE INTENSE MACHINE GUN., RIFLL AND MORTAR FIRE STYMIED THEIR DRIVE. THEY WERE PINNED DOWN AND NO ONE DARED TO MOVE OUT INTO THE HAIL OF FIRE THE JAPANESE POURED DOWN, THE MEN SOUGHT PROTECT I ON 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, P. MARTINEZ. IT WAS PVT I JOSE 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 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 BEL I EVE THEIR EYES I HERE WAS JOSE, THE QUIET MEXICAN KID FROM Co"LORADO, 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 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
3 HAND GRENADES AT THE OTHER ENEMY SOLDIERS ABOVE. HIM. THE JAPANESE INCREASED THEIR MACHINE GUN AND RIFLE FIRE. HE WAS FORCED TO MOVE ACROSS OPEN GROUND, NOW HE FACED HEAVY CROSSF I R.E 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 I THE FEARLESS G I I 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 L.EADING INTO THE CHICHAGOF HARBOR, MARTINEZ EMPTIED HIS RIFLE INTO THE POSITIONS JUST BELOW AND BEYOND THE PASS. THE LAST PART OF HIS CITATION READS, n, , , .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,n THUS, THE 23 YEAR OLD MART I NEZ 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 MART I NEZ 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 SEN I OR HIGH SCHOOL HI STORY 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 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. 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 FAMOUS "ZOOT SUIT RIOTS" WERE TAKING PLACE. NEARLY 1,000 YOUNG HISPANIC AMERICAN MEN WERE BEATEN, STRIPPED OF THEIR CLOTHES AND HAD THEIR HAIR SHAVEN OFF BY ARMY AND NAVY PERSONNEL BASED ON THE WEST COAST, MEXICAN AMERICANS SERVED WITH PRIDE AND DISTINCTION DURING WoRLD WAR I I. As AN ETHN 1 c GROUP, THEY RECE 1 VED MORE CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR AWARDS THAN ANY OTHER, HOWEVER, WHEN THEY RETURNED HOME, MANY FOUND THE SAME RACISM AND STEREOTYPES THAT THEY HAD CONFRONTED WHEN THEY LEFT.
........ ... """ 5 IN TEXAS, A YOUNG MEXICAN AMERICAN KILLED IN THE WAR WAS DEN I ED ACCESS TO BE BUR I ED IN A PUBLIC CEMETARY RESERVED FOR "WHITES ONLY." IT wAS THIS INCIDENT THAT STARTED THE AMERICAN G.l. FORUM. FOR FORTY YEARS NOW THE FORUM HAS BEEN A LEADING CIVIL RIGHTS ORGANIZAITON FIGHTING FOR VETERANS RIGHTS, EDUCATION, VOTER REGISTRATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS I THE COLORADO G ,-I I FORUM WILL BE HAYING THEIR STATEWIDE CONFERENCE ON JUNE 10 AND 11TH. THIS CONFERENCE WILL SERVE AS A REMINDER THAT THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM AROUND THE WORLD IS ADMIRABLE, BUT THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM BEGINS AT HOME. RICHARD CASTRO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AGENCY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS