Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
Albuquerque resident Ana Bell Ortiz wasn’t born when her half brother Jasper Marquez was killed during the Korean War.
But the recent identification of his remains has allowed her a chance to connect with the brother she never knew.
“This is the most I’ve ever known about him,” Ortiz said of the information she received from the military after he was accounted for on Aug. 9. “It was like an introduction to him.”
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Wednesday that Marquez’s remains were identified.
Marquez, who was from Santa Fe, is one of two soldiers from New Mexico who were killed in the war who have been identified since North Korea delivered more than 55 boxes of remains following the June 2018 summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The agency announced the identification of the remains of Army Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Calzada Mendoza, 27, of Anthony, on Oct. 21.
In late 1950, Marquez, a 21-year-old Army private first class, was assigned to Company L, 3rd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action Nov. 28, 1950, when enemy forces attacked his unit near Kujang-dong, North Korea.
After the war, a returned prisoner of war reported that Marquez died Jan. 20, 1951, while being held as a POW. His remains could not be recovered. The letter his mother received on March 5, 1954, informing her he was still missing said Marquez became ill and died of malnutrition.
Ortiz said her one regret was that her mother, Domatilia “Dora” Ortiz, was not alive to see her son return home. She died in 1961.
“According to relatives, she was really upset (about the news her son was reported missing),” Ortiz said.
Ortiz said she was 5 when her mother passed away, so she didn’t hear many stories about her brother.
She said she appreciated getting to see his medals, including his Purple Heart. Ortiz said she and her older sister, Rose Mary Ortiz of Denver, are believed to be her brother’s only survivors.
“It warms my heart I get to bring him home,” she said. “… I’m grateful they were able to find him. It’s important for our soldiers to be accounted for, and for their families to know what happened to them.”
A service will be held for Marquez at the Santa Fe National Cemetery on Nov. 18 at 2 p.m.
Mendoza was reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950, when his unit engaged against enemy forces near the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea. He was an artilleryman with Battery D, 15th Anti-Aircraft Artillery, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team at the time of his disappearance.
Mendoza will be buried on Nov. 15 in Dixon, Calif.