Saturday, October 06, 2007

Garfield Ridge Soldier Recognized for Heroism

While Garfield Ridge resident Capt. Joe Martinez was stationed in Afghanistan, he helped save the lives of 29 Canadian soldiers when their helicopter was shot down in enemy territory.

Martinez is considered to be a war hero for his actions.

In September of 2005, he was deployed to Afghanistan where he was a flight section leader and aided in flight planning.

On Dec. 4, 2005, Martinez was co-piloting a Chinook carrying 29 Canadian soldiers. The aircraft was shot down over enemy territory. Martinez was flying a Chinook during his last deployment to Afghanistan. There were 29 Canadian special forces on board who were flying to a special assignment.
"On Dec. 4, the aircraft in which I was flying was shot down by enemy fire, and our crew was forced to crash-land in enemy territory after [the Chinook] caught fire," Martinez wrote. "By following standard protocol and maintaining situational awareness, my pilot- in-command, CW3 John Sims, and I were able to save the lives of 29 Canadian special forces and crew aboard the aircraft."

Martinez alerted other aircrafts on the mission that they had been hit. They had to land the Chinook because it had caught on fire.

Martinez assisted the Canadian soldiers up a mountain to safety. All of the soldiers survived.

Martinez considers his actions to be a natural reaction to the situation.

“That’s our job, it’s what we’re supposed to do,” he said.

Martinez was awarded the Air Medal With Valor for getting shot down by enemy fire. He also has earned an Air Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and an Overseas Service Ribbon.

He served in Afghanistan until March 2006. He was promoted to captain on July 1, 2006. Martinez, along with his wife Kim and two children, Ryan and Natalie, returned to Chicago in April 2007.

Currently, Martinez is an Assistant Professor of Military Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He teaches Junior ROTC Cadets the skills necessary to become future officers in the military.

Martinez credits his parents, Arnold and Linda, with making him the person that he is today.

“They taught (me) the values of respect, loyalty, not dishonoring your name. That is how we were raised,” he said.

Thank you Captain Martinez - you are a true inspiration to all.
Linda Martinez never thought one of her four children would join the military. She's in awe of her son.
"I was never against it," Martinez said. "But I have a 25-year- old son, and I still can't picture him being in charge."
Linda is a Chicago cop, and her husband is a detective, so she's no stranger to the perils of a life-and-death kind of job. But watching other people struggle on the street and become the victims of violence isn't the same as watching your own kid guide 29 other troops to safety out of a burning helicopter.
Linda Martinez gets very emotional just talking about it.
"I never thought my kid would go off to war," she said. "I support them all."

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