Moyses Alfonso Martinez 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 June 24, 2019.

Early Life

Moyses Martinez was born on February 20, 1925 to Antonio and Bernardita Martinez. The second youngest of five boy and a girl, he grew up in Dulce, New Mexico where his father worked at a sawmill. He graduated from the sixth grade, but no records indicate that he pursued any further education. On February 21, 1943, Martinez registered for the draft and at the time was working at a Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Military Service

Five months later, Martinez enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve 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 Martinez, 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.

Aftermath

After his death, Martinez was awarded the Purple Heart, the WWII Victory Medal, and the American Defense Medal. His name is also featured in Court 1 of Courts of Missing at the Honolulu Memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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 Martinez's, were unidentified. While he was unidentified, he was referred to as "X-74." Five were eventually identified and the remaining four, one of them being X-74, were interred at the Manila American Memorial and Cemetery in the Philippines.

Identification

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, as well as a DNA sample from brother Jose, who passed away on April 20, 2009, DPAA scientists identified X-74 as Moyses Alfonso Martinez on June 14, 2019.

On October 8, 2019, Martinez's remains were returned to the United States in a flag-draped casket and was received by a Navy honor guard in Las Vegas, Nevada. Members of the Delta Honor Guard, a group of Delta Airlines volunteers who greet the remains of every fallen U.S. military service member, assisted in the arrival ceremony and the transfer of his remains to the Bunker's Memory Gardens Memorial Park on West Lone Mountain Road. He was buried next to Jose with full military honors and was honored with the firing of three volleys from a squad of rifleman and ceremonial bagpipes. Additionally, sailors folded the American flag draped over the casket into a triangle and presented it to Martinez’s surviving family members.

Sources

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