Ira Novis "Buck" Slaton is a United States sailor who was killed during the shelling of Tinian Island of the Northern Mariana Islands during the pre-invasion of Saipan Island while on duty on the USS Colorado. His remains were rediscovered on February 1948 and were identified on October 26, 2018.
Ira Slaton was born on May 19, 1922 to William and Ella Slaton in Alabama. The fourth of seven siblings and nicknamed "Buck," he enlisted in the United States Navy and was assigned as a Seaman, Second Class aboard the USS Colorado.
On July 24, 1944, the USS Colorado was moored about three thousand and two hundred yards from the shore of Tinian Island of the Northern Mariana Islands. In the early morning, along with the light cruiser USS Cleveland and destroyers USS Remey and USS Norman Scott, the battleship commenced firing on the island as part of the pre-invasion plan of Saipan. Within two hours, a concealed Japanese shore battery opened fire on the USS Colorado and the USS Norman Scott. The first hit on the USS Colorado resulted in a heavy explosion, and the ship sustained extensive fragmentation damage. Forty-three men, including Slaton, were killed, and one hundred and ninety-eight were wounded by twenty-two shell hits from 150mm Japanese shore batteries. Nevertheless, the USS Colorado provided support for ground troops until the island was taken.
His remains were among the thirty-nine of the forty-three men whose remains were recovered and were subsequently interred in the 4th Marine Division Cemetery on Saipan Island.
After his death, Martinez was awarded the Purple Heart and memorialized in Court 2 of Courts of Missing at the Honolulu Memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii. He also has a grave at Nixon Chapel Cemetery in Nixon Chapel, Alabama.
On February 1948, the remains of those killed on the USS Colorado were disinterred as part of a larger operation by the American Graves Registration Service’s 9105th Technical Service Unit. While a majority were identified, nine of the remains, one of them being Slaton's, were unidentified. While he was unidentified, he was referred to as "X-76." Five were eventually identified and the remaining four, one of them being X-76, were interred at the Manila American Memorial and Cemetery in the Philippines.
On October 18, 2017, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and the American Battle Monuments Commission exhumed X-74 sent him to the DPAA laboratory for analysis. Using dental and anthropological analysis and material and circumstantial evidence, DPAA scientists identified X-76 as Ira Novis "Buck" Slaton on October 26, 2018.