This is republished from 2008, but Operation Gothic Serpent was 20 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 email. 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.