Family, community, country, and honor are strong values to live up to. In the life of Private Salvador Martinez Ybor, Jr.,
they were paramount. Private Salvador Martinez Ybor, Jr.,
known as “Salvin” to his family, was the first-born son to
Salvador Martinez Ybor and Consuelo Pou. Salvin was born in 1910, in the section of
Tampa, Florida known as Ybor City. Ybor City was founded by Salvin’s
grandfather, Vincente Martinez Ybor, as a cigar manufacturing center. Despite being one of Ybor City’s
most prominent families, Salvin and his family left Ybor City following
his father’s legal problems during Prohibition, and the subsequent closing of
his brewery business around 1929. They moved to live close to family in Cuba,
a place the family had frequently visited. Despite the draw of family and community in Cuba,
the call of country and honor became stronger. Salvin returned to the Tampa area in 1942. He stayed with his uncle while he considered
the branch of service in which to enlist. When Salvin ultimately enlisted,
he listed his uncle as his next of kin. Salvador M. Ybor, Jr.
enlisted at age 32 on March 28, 1942. He served in the General Officers’
branch of the U.S. Army. At the time of enlistment, Salvin was
a single man, without his own dependents. But he knew he wanted to forge a bond with
his nephew and godson, Ignacio, Jr. Throughout his time in the service, he sent
letters and packages home to his nephew. These often included things that a boy might
treasure, such as exotic looking seashells, and a saber taken from a Japanese officer. They were prized possessions that,
unfortunately, had to be left behind when the family later fled the
Castro Cuban Revolution. Salvin was fatally injured as the 43rd
Infantry Division participated in the amphibious landing in the
Battle of Luzon in the Philippines. Private Salvador Martinez Ybor, Jr.
died on January 9, 1945, the first day of the troops’ landing,
under heavy enemy fire. He was awarded a Purple Heart,
and is memorialized here, on the Wall of the Missing
at the Manila American Cemetery. That Purple Heart was carried
out of Cuba during the Revolution, and is one of the few treasured
personal items from Salvin that his nephew, Ignacio Martinez
Ybor, Jr. still has today. As a child, Ignacio Jr. spent time
with his grandmother, Salvin’s mother. She would tell her grandson over and over again
about when they would go to meet Salvin’s airplane when he would return home. She would tell him that at first, it
would look like a tiny speck in the sky. And that speck would get bigger and bigger,
until it was close enough to look like a plane. And then it would land, and the plane would
open up, and Salvin would come home to them. This never came true. Upon hearing of her son’s death, Salvin’s mother, Consuelo, wore black
for the rest of her life. She never recovered from the loss
of her first-born son. Salvin, you honored your family,
your community, and your country. Your legacy lives on today through
those who were privileged to know you. I am grateful to join those who knew of you,
and to honor you, and to make known your legacy. Thank you for your service.
You are gone, but not forgotten.