Gothic Serpent;18 years later

| October 3, 2011

This is republished from 2008, but Operation Gothic Serpent was 18 years ago today. It’s lessons live on and we’re still waging a war that has it’s roots in that battle;

15 years ago today I lost a dear friend. Tim Martin and I showed up at the Reception Station in Fort Polk Louisiana – I won’t mention the year, the fact that they were still doing Basic and Infantry AIT at Ft Polk should be enough to narrow it down for you. He was a huge, quiet and friendly guy and I felt lucky that we were attached alphabetically through those 16 weeks. I can’t count the times that I’d stumbled and looked up to see his outstretched hand to help me up.

After those 16 weeks, then four weeks together at the Basic Airborne Course in Georgia then he went to the 2d Ranger Battalion at Lewis and I went to Fort Stewart (yes, the 1st Battalion was actually on Fort Stewart in those days). We went off in our separate directions for four years and then ended up in the same SFQC class at Fort Bragg – alphabetically attached once again. After that six months, we rarely saw each other, but each time we met, the conversation picked up right where it had left off the last time.

I’ve never met anyone who ever met him that had a bad word for him. He loved the Army, and later I learned he loved his family more.

I discovered his final fate on October 18th, 1993 while I was leaving my last duty station as a retired soldier when I read the casualty list from what is now known as the “Blackhawk Down” fiasco and found his name.

I spent the next seven years trying to find out what happened to him. I became a member of the fine Paratrooper.net forum, run by my good friend Mark (back when Mark and I were the only participating members). As the forum grew, I put together bits and pieces of the story and some wonderful soul sent his wife, Linda, my way. She sent me pictures of him which I’ve put on my accompanying website as a memorial to Master Sergeant Tim “Griz” Martin.

The movie Blackhawk Down did a great job capturing his personality and immortalizing his love for his daughters.

Another friend at paratrooper.net, 509thTrooper, helped me get Tim a brick at the Ranger Memorial in Fort Benning. Then Trooper went and took a picture of the brick for me.


I stop and visit with Tim at Arlington at least twice every year on Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day and every Christmas when I make my rounds there. And every day I give thanks for men like Tim Martin who are willing to put everything on the line for the rest of us. But today, especially, I save for Tim. And for Linda and their girls who sacrificed everything for us as well.

And thanks to COB6 for reminding me to share it with you.

Category: Blue Skies

Comments (11)

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  1. ROS says:

    He’ll never be forgotten, nor his sacrifice taken for granted. Never.

  2. NHSparky says:

    No greater love…

  3. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed the read…

  4. 2-17AirCav says:

    “And for Linda and their girls who sacrificed everything for us as well.”

  5. lucky says:

    Jonn, just know that not all the 20 somethings out there have forgotten Tim and the others from that raid. That event touched many people, my Father among them, having been there less than a year earlier himself. It touched my life during CA School at Bragg in 2004, one of the Psyop instructors had been a young Ranger on that raid, and the stories and Mark Bowden’s book have made one heck of an impact on my life. So to Tim and the other 17, I have only this to say: Bravo Zulu, and thank you for your sacrifice!

  6. Doc Bailey says:

    I saw the movie when it first came out. It made me want to be a Medic even more. It is a *little* annoying that they keep using clips from that movie for training purposes.

    there will always be men at the pointy end of the spear. Their efforts may take a long time to come out, but in the end they will. We do our best to remember them, and to hold dear our honored dead.

  7. pontiff alex says:

    Never, EVER, Forgotten…. Nice tribute, THANK YOU Griz (and TAH)for my freedoms.

  8. Wm. Lee says:

    R.I.P. Brother! None will ever be forgotten.

  9. Bo Blair says:

    My father Bob Blair was on ODA 232 combat divers with Tim Griz Martin . I remember him coming to my house because the team was learning to speak Russian .I remember him being a kind man. Im watching the movie Black Hawk down with my two young boys right now as I right this . I feel proud to be able to tell people I knew him even though I was a young boy. I always asked my dad what happened to his face , how did he get burned? I was told he was in a fire when he was a boy .I know now what really happened to his face , what a warrior and hero this man is. Thank you Tim “Griz” Martin . God bless Tim and his family.

  10. Anonymous says:

    He will never be forgotten. Hugs to you Aunt Linda and family.
    xo, JCSturgis

  11. burt says:

    He was my friend.
    I consider myself very fortunate to have known him.
    NSDQ!