Patriot, Chapter 1919
was born in 1957 in the lower Rio Grande Valley town of San Benito, Texas.
During his Elementary School years, his family lived in the little village
of La Paloma very near to the river; but, they had moved back to San Benito
when Ramiro was going through Middle School and High School.
graduated from San Benito High School in 1975 and enlisted in the Marine
Corps. After initial training at Camp Pendleton, California, he then
trained for and was assigned to Force Recon. He stayed in the Marines for
seven years, all in Force Recon and all but 13 months of which was
overseas. In 1982, he took his discharge and went back home to San Benito.
enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard and was assigned to the Mortar
Platoon, Combat Support Company, 3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry, in San
Benito. The Lineage and Honors of the units of the 141st Infantry of the
Texas National Guard trace all the way back to the 1st Infantry Regiment and
2nd Infantry Regiment of the Republic of Texas and their history predates
Texas Independence. Ramiro stayed with 3-141 Infantry, referred to by
Texas Guardsmen as the “Valley Infantry,” for the next nineteen years, and
he deployed with them on numerous challenging missions. Those included
deployment with Co A, 3-141 Infantry on a security mission in Nicaragua in
1985; mobilization and deployment for Desert Storm in 1991 as one of
the “Round-Out” units with the 1st Cavalry Division; deployment to Japan in
1993 for two months of training with Japanese Defense Forces; and multiple
training exercises at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin,
time, Ramiro Martinez
had been moving up through the ranks. Then in 2001, shortly after 911, as
part of the mobilization, he moved from San Benito to Austin where he took
the position of First Sergeant of Headquarters and Headquarters Company,
1-141 Infantry (and the promotion that went along with it).
In 2005, a
rotation of Texas National Guard units for Afghanistan needed additional
personnel and so, 1SG Martinez volunteered to go as First Sergeant, Co A,
3-141 Infantry. Company A deployed to Afghanistan in May 2005 where it
became part of Combined/Joint Task Force-76.
Co A, 3-141
Infantry was further assigned to Task Force Bayonet which covered South and
Southeast Afghanistan and was responsible for Kandahar, Lash Kar Gah, Qalat,
and Tarin Kowt. Elements of Co A were posted at different locations and
1SG Martinez was in charge of a platoon in Lash Kar Gah; a quiet area where,
according to the briefings, nothing had been happening. But, before the end
of their first week Ramiro was in a five-vehicle convoy that had to fight
through an ambush at a village nearby. Ramiro says, “And that was just
the beginning, by the end of our first month there we had been hit ten
Bayonet also had a company of paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade,
a company of Marines from the 4th Marine Division, and a company of British
Army Troops, all in Lash Kar Gah, with a Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel in
command of the combined/joint force. As it turned out, Ramiro was the
senior First Sergeant among them all and as such became the Sergeant Major
for that combined group of allied warriors.
On June 13,
2005, Ramiro Martinez
was wounded. He says, “We were in a convoy that was taking our
commander, the Marine Lt Col, to Kandahar Airfield to catch a flight. It
was about 11:00 AM and we were nearing a village just outside Kandahar when
the insurgents hit us. It started with two suicide-bomber vehicles. The
first one was driving along the road but the driver missed the point where
he had planned to initiate the action by blowing himself up; so instead, he
drove off the road into a minefield. Old Russian minefields were on both
sides of the road at that point. The second suicide bomber was in a small
station wagon parked on the side of the road and he detonated it just as my
vehicle was passing him.” At that point the ambushers in concealed
positions at the edge of the village opened fire. But, the gunners in the
convoy reacted instantly with suppressive fire that overwhelmed the
insurgents and 28 of them were quickly captured without further losses among
the Task Force Bayonet troops.
was incapacitated by the explosion. He never lost consciousness; however, he
was pinned in the vehicle and unable to move. A steel bomb fragment two
inches in diameter had gone through his Kevlar helmet, and part of it
penetrated the skull and was lodged in his brain. He was extracted from the
vehicle and taken to the coalition medical facility at Kandahar Airfield.
Although completely paralyzed, he was fully cognizant of everything going on
around him as he was prepared for evacuation. Before nightfall, was loaded
aboard a Medevac flight direct to Landstuhl, Germany. He was unable to
speak, immobilized for the flight with a tube down his throat, with his
helmet on because the shell fragment still pinned it to his head. All the
while, he could clearly hear his medical attendants talking among themselves
and part of what they were saying was that, “he isn’t going to make it.”
Ramiro knew they were wrong.
operation at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center he was further evacuated to
Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. On June 17th, he was back home
in Texas less than four days after being wounded in Afghanistan. The
initial prognosis of the doctors at BAMC was that he probably would not walk
again. He did not believe that either. On July 4th, after three weeks of
being fed through a tube, Ramiro insisted on having normal food and coffee,
saying, “I really had to have my coffee.” From then on he worked
hard at physical therapy and gradually relearned how to get dressed, to care
for himself, and how to walk again. On July 15th, he was transferred to the
North Austin Rehab Hospital, and he was walking with a cane by August 24,
2005 when he returned to BAMC for his final operation, putting a protective
plate in place on his skull.
Since that time, his physical therapy has continued as an outpatient at BAMC.
He receives treatment there, Monday through Friday, and then spends his
weekends back home in Austin with his wife, Mary. At this writing, he is
eagerly anticipating his release from the hospital and return to full duty
status, and he also anticipates promotion to Sergeant Major; possibly all
that may be happening within the next month.