Corporal Benito Martinez - Medal of Honor
In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, the Runnels County Register will be posting articles on influential and heroic Hispanics through October.
Corporal Benito Martinez - Medal of Honor
Benito Martinez was a Mexican-American, born in Fort Hancock, Texas on March 21, 1931. His parents were Mr. and Mrs. Francisco Martinez. In 1950 Martinez joined the United States Army.
Once Martinez completed basic training, he was assigned to Company A, 27th Infantry Regiment in Hawaii.
North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950. Martinez’ unit was one of the first to deploy to South Korea, arriving on July 18, 1950. The unit fought in Korea over the next 2 years.
On February 23, 1952, the 25th Infantry Division, of which the 27th Infantry Regiment was part of, was the front line for X Corps near the Mundung-ni sector, northeast of the Hwach’on Reservoir. The responsibilities of the division included front line patrols, ambushes and artillery exchanges, among other duties.
Corporal Martinez was assigned to 2nd Platoon, Company A and was set up at Outpost Agnes in front of the lines. To the rear was an emplacement known as Sandbag Castle.
Outpost Agnes was a bunker large enough to hold four soldiers. Martinez was in Outpost Agnes with other soldiers when the North Koreans launched a midnight attack. Once the attack began, Martinez saw soldiers from the Korean People’s Army (KPA) crawling through the lines to cut off the forward bunkers and Outpost Agnes. Martinez ordered the three men with him to return to Sandbag Castle. Martinez’s commanding officer, Lieutenant McLean, called him on the field phone and ordered him to get out of the outpost and get back to Sandbag Castle. Martinez knew they dire situation that they were in; They were receiving an enemy artillery barrage while being attacked by a far-superior force. Yet, Martinez refused to abandon the outpost so that he could cover his soldiers as they fell back to Sandbag Castle.
Martinez and one other soldier, Private First Class Paul G. Myatt, remained at the outpost, engaging the enemy. According to reports, Martinez inflicted numerous casualties on the KPA with his machinegun. Martinez ran out of ammunition he retreated to a bunker that had been destroyed by the enemy artillery barrage. There, he continued the battle with a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR). For six hours Martinez and Myatt took the battle to the enemy, even after being surrounded and ordered to abandon the outpost several times. Once surrounded, Martinez refused to have his company make a rescue attempt, and continued fighting.
Martinez died fighting the KPA, while Myatt ended up being taken prisoner.
Martinez was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on December 29, 1952, by President Harry S. Truman.
The Medal of Honor citation reads:
Rank and organization:Corporal, U.S. Army, Company A, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division.
Place and date:Near Satae-ri Korea, September 6, 1952.
Entered service at: Fort Hancock, Texas
Born: March 21, 1931, Fort Hancock, Texas
G.O. No.: 96, December 29, 1953
Cpl. Martinez, a machine gunner with Company A, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. While manning a listening post forward of the main line of resistance, his position was attacked by a hostile force of reinforced company strength. In the bitter fighting which ensued, the enemy infiltrated the defense perimeter and, realizing that encirclement was imminent, Cpl. Martinez elected to remain at his post in an attempt to stem the onslaught. In a daring defense, he raked the attacking troops with crippling fire, inflicting numerous casualties. Although contacted by sound power phone several times, he insisted that no attempt be made to rescue him because of the danger involved. Soon thereafter, the hostile forces rushed the emplacement, forcing him to make a limited withdrawal with only an automatic rifle and pistol to defend himself. After a courageous 6-hour stand and shortly before dawn, he called in for the last time, stating that the enemy was converging on his position His magnificent stand enabled friendly elements to reorganize, attack, and regain the key terrain. Cpl. Martinez' incredible valor and supreme sacrifice reflect lasting glory upon himself and are in keeping with the honored traditions of the military service.