By L. Parsons
Veteran’s Day is this Saturday, Nov. 11, a holiday dedicated to the men and women who have served in the armed forces both in peacetime and during conflict, stateside as well as deployed overseas. US Army Special Forces Sgt. Tim Martin joined other Winslow veterans for coffee last week to talk about their experiences in the service as well as adjusting to civilian life.
Martin joined the United States Army in 1990 just after graduating from high school in Lodi, Calif. He said, “The military was big in my family. My father served in the Marine Corps and was in Vietnam, and my grandfather was Army and served in the Korean War. Enlisting was in my blood and something I wanted to do.” His basic training was done at Fort Sill, which is in Lawton, Okla., about 85 miles southwest of Oklahoma City. “In basic training I made a lot of good friends and formed bonds with fellow Army guys that I would never have been able to if I hadn’t joined,” Martin said.
It was during basic training that Martin and his drill sergeant realized he was an excellent shot with an M-16. “I originally enlisted to be part of the Air Defense Artillery, but during basic, I was such a good shot, that my drill sergeant, who was an ex sniper suggested I look in to Special Forces.” Martin mentioned that his father, a US Marine, talked him in to enlisting in the Army. “After he found out what I ended up doing in the Army, he said he should have just let me join the Marines.”
Following basic training at Ft. Sill, Martin went on to Advanced Individual Training (AIT) to further his training as a sharpshooter. For members of the Infantry, AIT is 13 weeks. However, because Martin was with Special Forces, he spent 11 months in AIT before going on to an additional seven weeks of training in his specific job of sniper. Martin attended AIT in Georgia, with time at both Fort Benning near the Alabama border, and Fort Gordon in Augusta.
Martin received orders after basic training that had him stationed at a US Army base in Grafenwoehr, Germany, in eastern Bavaria. While stationed in Germany, he was deployed to Operation Desert Storm and did four tours of duty in Iraq from 1991-1993.
“I was very scared each time I went,” Martin recalled, “although the more I went the better prepared I was and also knew, or had an idea of what to expect. But it was always different towns or areas so each time it was a different challenge.” He also did two tours in Bosnia in 1996-1997. At that time, the U.S. troops were sent in to Bosnia to eradicate their leader, Milosevic who was later charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Martin said, “We went in and ended it, basically.”
In 1998, Martin was relocated to White Sands, N.M., where he continued his job in Special Forces. “I injured my ankle parachuting in 1997, and had to have surgery on it. When I got orders to New Mexico, I tried to continue my job and just couldn’t. I did training and instructing because there wasn’t any wartime stuff going on so I was able to keep in for a couple more years. Then, the Army told me if I wanted to stay in, I would have to take a desk job and I said no thanks.” Martin was honorably discharged in January of 2001.
As a sniper, Martin saw action that he does not often talk about, especially to civilians. However, he does credit his military service with teaching him, “Discipline, how important hygiene is, I still iron my clothes,” he said. He keeps in touch through Facebook with some of the men he served with although, he explained, “It’s been a long time since I have seen any of them.”
Martin is currently an engineer with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, a job he took three weeks after returning to civilian life but he’s grateful that he was able to serve his country. Martin said, “I love Veteran’s Day. I am proud of what I did for this country and all I’ve been is thanked for my service. It makes me feel good and proud to do what I’ve done and to live to talk about it. I would do it all again, in a heartbeat.”