Ramiro Martinez 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.
Ramiro 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.
He then 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, California.
During that 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 times.
Task Force 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.
1SG Martinez 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 isnt going to make it. Ramiro knew they were wrong.
After his 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.