$115,743 raised by 729 donors
The Denver Park Trust, in partnership with residents of the Villa Park neighborhood, veterans groups, Medal of Honor supporters, Councilwoman Jamie Torres’ Office, Denver Parks and Recreation, and Denver Arts & Venues, is fundraising for a lasting tribute honoring Private Martinez in Joseph P. Martinez Park in West Denver.
Private Martinez was the first Latino and Coloradan to be awarded the Medal of Honor in World War II.
Joe P. Martinez was born in Taos, New Mexico on July 27, 1920 and raised in Ault, Colorado. He was an Army Soldier who received the Medal of Honor—the United States’ highest military decoration—for combat actions that cost him his life on the Aleutian Islands in May 1943 during World War II. His posthumous award was the first Medal of Honor awarded for actions on the North American continent since 1898.
In 1966, the City and County of Denver named an 11 acre park in the Villa Park neighborhood in his honor.
In 2020, a new master plan to revitalize Joseph P. Martinez Park was created. Through the community engagement process, it was determined that a new, enduring tribute to Private Martinez should be incorporated into the design and construction of the park.
The tribute will provide young and old, neighbors and victors, with an opportunity to learn more about Private Martinez’s life and legacy as well as veterans with a connection to Denver and Colorado, Latino veterans, and recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The Denver Park Trust and its partners are working to raise $225,000 for a tribute to Private Martinez. This amount will be used pay an artist, selected through a competitive process, to design, create, and construct a unique and long-lasting tribute.
The Private Martinez Tribute project has secured a commitment of $70,000 in funding from Denver Arts & Venues and Denver Parks and Recreation as park of the City of Denver’s 1% art program and is looking to raise the remaining $155,000.
Private Joe P. Martinez was born in Taos, New Mexico on July 27, 1920. Joe was one of seven children born to José Manuel Martinez and María Eduvigen Romo. In 1927, the family moved to Ault, Colorado. There, he received his primary and secondary education.
In August 1942, Joe was drafted into the United States Army and sent to Camp Roberts, California for basic training. After completing basic training, he was assigned to Company K, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. In April 1943, the Division departed San Francisco to dislodge Japanese forces occupying the Aleutians, a chain of islands extending from Alaska into the Bering Sea.
One month later, the Division landed in dense fog at Holtz Bay on Attu Island. Initially successful, the attack stalled facing an escalating series of snowy, fortified trenches. Ignoring intense machine gun and mortar fire, Pvt. Martinez stood and hollered, “Follow me!” Martinez arduously climbed upward toward Holtz-Chichogof Pass, rising 150 feet from the rocky beach. Pvt. Martinez led the troops on and up, personally silencing several trenches with his Browning Automatic Rifle. Just below the knifelike rim of the pass, he encountered a final enemy occupied trench. As he fired into it, he was mortally wounded.
The pass, however, was taken. Its capture resulted in the end of organized enemy resistance on Attu Island. For his conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty, Pvt. Joe P. Martinez was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, our Nation’s highest combat honor. He was buried with full military honors in Ault, Colorado.
• Jose Aguayo, Author and Member of the Mile Hi Veterans
• Jaime Aguilar, President, Villa Park Neighborhood Association
• Rudi Cerri, Public Art Administrator, Denver Arts & Venues
• Thalia (Tay) Considine, President, Considine Family Foundation
• Deana Gallegos, Chair of the Veterans Committee, Mile Hi Veterans
• Deke Letson, Executive Director, Veterans Expeditions Therapy
• Emanuel Martinez, Muralist, Sculptor, Painter
• Al Muniz, Board Member, Mile Hi Veterans
• Jerry Rael, Member of the Mile Hi Veterans
• Gordon Robertson, Director, Planning Design & Construction, Denver Parks and Recreation
• Ed Romero, Member of the Mile Hi Veterans
• Paul Shamon, Innovator & Director, General Rose Monument
• Councilwoman Jamie Torres, President, Denver City Council
• Meredith Wenskoski, President, Livable Cities Studio
The Denver Park Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit partner of Denver Parks and Recreation, with a simple and important mission: to help provide historically underserved neighborhoods with quality parks through fundraising for land acquisition, capital projects, community grants, and resiliency initiatives.
The Denver Park Trust was founded in 2019 by Denver City Councilwoman Kendra Black, and Denver Parks and Recreation Advisory Board member Frank Rowe to address the urgent need for additional park space and improvements in our rapidly growing city. Designed as a fundraising partner of Denver Parks and Recreation, the main mission of the Denver Park Trust is to leverage private and public dollars to improve our park system in an equitable way. As a nonprofit fundraising organization, we allow people like you, patrons of the parks, as well as local businesses, community leaders, and corporations to actively support Denver parks.
Denver has a long legacy of prioritizing parks, but not always in an equitable way. Currently, Denver is ranked 18th in the nation for park access-falling short in investment, amenities, and acreage. To add new parks to an increasingly dense city requires creative solutions; that means transforming old parking lots, creating pocket parks, and adding public green space to private developments. The Denver Park Trust has big plans for conquering big issues--but we need your help. Donate today, and become an active contributor to the betterment of our environment, our city, and the people who live here.