Marlton resident Martin Martinez is proud of his family’s considerable military lineage. Their collective years of military service total about 145 years, starting with his father, whose 25-year military career spanned World War II, Korea and the early years of Vietnam.
Martinez’s father-in-law was a criminal investigator in the army during The Cold War and served for 20 years.
Martin Martinez is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel with 23 years of service under his belt. His sons are currently serving and have had impressive careers of their own. His oldest son, Robert, was recently promoted to colonel and, as of Oct. 19, has taken command of the New Jersey National Guard’s 42nd Regional Support Group.
Chris, the younger of Martinez’s sons, is a military intelligence officer who ended up marrying another intelligence officer, adding even more branches to the family’s military tree.
“As a family, we are very proud of it,” Martin Martinez said. “When you talk about patriots, I think we fall into that classification, We all took an oath and we take our oath very seriously.”
Growing up, Martinez noticed his father referred to other enlisted men younger than he as “sir.” When he asked him why, his father explained that despite their younger age, these were commissioned officers and he was a non-commissioned officer. Martinez made a decision that day that had a ripple effect on the rest of his life.
“That’s what planted a seed in my head,” he recalled. “I said, ‘I want to be one of those guys.’”
Martinez attended college on an ROTC scholarship, meaning he could enter military service with immediate job placement in an army leadership position. When he was commissioned after earning his degree, his father, who had retired from active duty, was there to pin on his lieutenant bars.
Martinez recalled his wife’s initial reservations about their sons following in their father’s footsteps, as he had done, concerned about their safety. Despite her wishes, they took a similar path, both attending college on an ROTC scholarship. Just like his father, Martinez was able to participate in his sons’ commissioning ceremonies.
“For me as a father, it’s like a dream,” he noted. “I have two sons and I commissioned them both as officers. They’ve had full careers and they have now exceeded my own rank as lieutenant colonel.”
In his new command role with the National Guard, Martinez’s son Robert will be overseeing three to four battalions, by his father’s estimation. He will be responsible not only for defense of the nation but coordinating relief efforts in the case of natural disasters.
Martinez said he always knew his son would make a natural leader.
“He had a knack for it,” the father said. “He looks the part and he acts the part. He’s got all the tools. I think that’s why he’s being groomed for higher leadership in the National Guard.”
That sentiment echoes something Martinez remembers his father telling him when he pinned on his lieutenant bars: “If you do one thing right, make sure that you act like an officer and you look like one.”
Veterans Day is just around the corner, and given their rich history of service to the nation, the holiday holds a special significance for the Martinez family. In the past, they have participated in local parades together, but given his son’s recent promotion, Martinez says his presence may be required elsewhere this year.
Regardless of where they find themselves this Veterans Day, the Martinez family will have plenty to reflect on come Nov. 11.
“There are very few families that can say they have 145 years of combined military service, and we’re proud of it,” Martinez said proudly. “I have two grandsons now; I just hope that one of them continues the tradition.”