Outdoors writer Don Martin was proud to serve nation

Honoring All Who Served

Don Martin stands with his family shortly after he enlisted in the Army in 1969.

Courtesy

Don Martin stands with his family shortly after he enlisted in the Army in 1969.

William Donald (Don) Martin was raised in a family that believed that the male members should serve in the United States military.

I had uncles who served with pride in the U.S. Army, Navy, and merchant marines. My father, Bill Martin, served in the U.S. Navy.

A cousin who I admired, Jimmy Darryl Messer, was killed in Vietnam in 1967, when I was a junior attending Glendale High School. In honor of his sacrifice, my oldest son is named after him.

I attended Glendale Community College in 1969, and besides having a college deferment I also had a high draft number. It appeared I’d never have to go into the armed forces.

But after hearing some “hippie types” berating our servicemen and women in a geography class, I left class and almost joined the U.S. Navy.

When I told my family what I had done, my dad laughed and said I was going to drown in San Diego, as I couldn’t swim far at that time.

The next day, I went and joined the U.S. Army. I told my family at dinner I guess I wouldn’t mind dying for this country, but I sure as heck wasn’t going to drown in San Diego.

I enlisted for three years and chose to be a military policeman. My Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was 95B.

I went into the Army on July 23, 1969, and went to Ft. Lewis Wash., for my basic training.

Afterwards, I volunteered for a special school called the Advanced Leadership Detachment in Ft. Gordon, Ga.

After graduating from both the ALD and Military Police school in Ft. Gordon, I was sent to Germany, where I immediately put in for a transfer to Vietnam.

I arrived in January 1970 in Europe, and my first thoughts were how dark and foreboding it looked. Little did I know I wouldn’t see the sun for about four months.

My service in Germany started off in Schweinfurt, then to Wurzburg and finally to Wertheim, where I stayed for several years.

Being a good soldier, I rose rapidly in rank. I was the youngest soldier in my battalion to make sergeant. I was just 20 years old.

I worked as a field officer, a military police supervisor, and finally as a military police investigator.

I also ran the Wertheim Rod & Gun Club trap and skeet range, along with being in charge of the post theater.

With the war in Vietnam winding down, I was given the option of reenlisting or taking an early out.

I opted for the early out and left the Army on March 2, 1972, after two years, nine months and 26 days, but who was counting.

I was awarded an expert shooting medal with the M-16 rifle, and received a good conduct medal and National Defense Service Medal for my service.

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