Ho'okele Staff | Aug 11, 2012
Story and photo by Jim Murray
Naval Supply Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor Public Affairs
Sunset in Waikiki is supposed to be a time of romance and serenity as visitors gather on the beach to watch for the green flash that is sometimes seen when the sun disappears over the horizon. For a group of young, female visitors from Japan, however, the only green flash they saw was the sight of their hard-earned dollars disappearing into the pocket of a stranger.
The women were on the beach with their belongings alongside them in the sand when a brazen man who was passing by scooped up one of their wallets and hurried off.
The women saw it happen and they began to yell, but the man who took their wallet was frightening, and they were hesitant to do anything more than to try and follow him.
Fortunately, a short distance down the beach from the women was Logistics with Navy Reserve Fleet Specialist 2nd Class Ricardo Logistics Center Pearl Martinez, who was taking Harbor (FLCPH) Det A, photos of the sunset.
Martinez, a naval Reservist with Navy Reserve Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor (FLCPH) Det A, located in Denver, Colo., was in Hawaii for the RIMPAC exercise. Assigned to Naval Supply Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor, his duties primarily involved moving cargo—not apprehending criminals. Despite that, Martinez, who was once a police officer in Aurora, Colo., was not about to stand by and do nothing.
“I thought he was going to hurt one of the Japanese ladies and my training kicked in,” Martinez said. “It was automatic.”
Martinez crossed the sand and approached the suspect, intending to see if he could protect the ladies and also get the wallet returned.
Initially, things did not go well. The suspect had no plans to give up the wallet so easily, and he threatened Martinez and told him that he and his friends would kill him.
As a RIMPAC naval Reservist and a representative of the U.S. Navy, Martinez knew he should not be getting into an altercation in the middle of Waikiki Beach, so he did the right thing—something that is easily overlooked in the heat of the moment. He whipped out his cell and called 911.
“I just wanted to ensure the Japanese women were safe,” said Martinez.
At that point, the suspect made his getaway . . . but he was too late. Honolulu Police Department (HPD) has a substation on Waikiki Beach and in no time, the police had nabbed the suspect and recovered the wallet and the hundreds of dollars inside it.
HPD officers asked Martinez to come to the station so he could give his account of what happened. The suspect was arrested for theft and assault.
“I didn’t do that much,” said the humble Martinez, playing down his role in the event. It seems likely, however, that had he not intervened, a young Japanese visitor would not have recovered the money she had saved for her Hawaii vacation.
“LS2 Martinez safely intervened during a tense situation and took appropriate action,” said Capt. Paul Verrastro, commanding officer of NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor as he congratulated Martinez on his good deed.
“Other people might have remained on the sidelines, but Martinez stepped forward, and there is a young lady who is certainly happy that he did,” continued Verrastro.
Lt. Cmdr. Al Unger, Reserve coordinator for NAVSUP FLCPH, had lots of praise for Martinez and for the other Navy Reserve personnel who help support the Fleet Logistics Center:
“One of the many benefits of Reserve Sailors is the wealth of knowledge, training and experience they bring from their civilian careers,” Unger said.
“For example, Petty Officer Martinez is supporting RIMPAC as a logistics specialist, but he is also a certified police officer in Colorado. That civilian training allowed him to act immediately to stop a crime in progress and possibly prevent an escalation to physical harm,” Unger said.
This was the first time Martinez has been to Hawaii, but he said the event on the beach did not detract from the warmth and beauty he has found in the 50th state.
“It’s really nice here,” he said. “The weather is beautiful. I hope to see more of the island, but I’ve been busy with RIMPAC and my naval Reserve qualifications.”
As for his intervention in a dangerous situation, he said, “I’d do it all over again.”