Leader Blues

Saturday, December 29, 2007

TOP STORY >>Cabot soldier is back from Iraq

Leader staff writer

Master Sgt. Terry Martin of Cabot is happy to be home for the holidays after serving in Baghdad, where he worked 14- to 16-hour days for a year without a day off.

“The loud noises still make you jump, but it’s nice to sleep in your own bed and not have to worry about rockets or mortars,” says Martin, who served at Camp Victory in Iraq.

Martin is a member of the 77th Aviation Brigade’s Army Airspace Command and Con-trol Team (A2C2) based out of Camp Robinson. He returned with a team earlier this month.

The team left Arkansas in November last year for an abbreviated training period before going to Iraq just a week later.
Martin spent Christmas in Cabot with his wife and two daughters and then traveled to Michigan, where his wife’s family lives near Detroit.

“After spending a year in Iraq with 130 to 140 degree heat, it will be nice to see snow,” he said.

Martin is a full-time battalion operations sergeant of an aviation unit on Camp Robinson. Before he starts working again in January, he is catching up on sleep and looks forward to going hunting.

He has also been busy getting reacquainted with his family and enjoying the food here at home.

“Eating food with taste, good flavor and properly cooked is a welcome change,” he said.

He and his wife spent six months of their two-year marriage together before he was deployed. His wife is not the only one who missed him.

“My co-worker and friend who took over my job on Camp Robinson is ready for me to get back and take my responsibility back,” Martin said. “I can’t say I blame him.”

While serving in the National Guard, Martin has seen much of the world since graduating from Jacksonville High School in 1985.

This was his first deployment to Iraq and his fourth overall. He has also served in Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo along with New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and the Southwest border mission in support of the Border Patrol.

Since joining the Guard, Martin has been on six missions.

He joined in 1986 to earn money for school. “It was a good deal then, and a better deal now,” he said. “I have no regrets. The Army has been good to me and my family.”

“I spend time abroad from time to time, but it also helps take care of my family,” he said. “They understand the commitment, and I couldn’t do it without them and their support.”

Martin says he was fortunate during this deployment, working as the NCOIC for the Multi-National Corps-Iraq C3 Air section, which controlled all aviation assets in Iraq.

He also believes the war is not as bad as some think.

“It’s getting better over there,” he said.

“Like most other soldiers who deploy there, I worked outside of my occupational specialty,” he said.

“We worked inside a palace with the rest of the Corps staff,” Martin said. “It was an incredible experience to get to work around and with people that my grandchildren will one day be reading about in history books, such as Gen. Patraeus and Maj. Gen. Odierno,” Martin said.

Martin says he spent a fair share of time dodging mortars and rockets.

“The guys who were doing the hard work were the young troopers on the streets, kicking in doors and keeping people safe,” he said. “I feel honored to have served with them.”

Martin expects to serve in the Guard for another 8 to 10 years. “I love the Army,” he said. “Family first, then Army.”

The Arkansas National Guard still has 300 soldiers and airmen mobilized in Iraq.

An additional 3,000 more soldiers are preparing for deployment with the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team for that unit’s second tour of duty in Iraq.

Martin thinks he could be deployed again.

“This is a different Guard today than the one I joined. We play a more active role in the world, both domestically and abroad,” he said.

“We are prepared for that, and I try to stay prepared for any eventuality, whether it be hurricanes, ice storms, or wars on foreign lands.”