FORT WORTH Five months into his Iraq deployment, when the same old, same old can turn into complacency, Air Force Staff Sgt. Francisco T. Martinez asked for a few minutes with Alpha Flight.
It was Dec. 15, the day before his only son would have turned 24 had he not been gunned down by a sniper on a street in Ramadi almost four years before.
"You may never get the thanks and validation you so deserve from your superiors or from our Army and Air Force brothers and sisters," Martinez told the assembled airmen at the base in Kirkuk.
"But know that, I, Francisco Martinez, software engineer and military parent, along with thousands of other relatives, friends and loved ones of those you protect, thank you with all our collective strength."
Martinez, known by friends and family as Paco, is one of the thousands of parents who have lost a son or daughter in the war in Iraq. Army Spc. Francisco G. Martinez, 20, an Eastern Hills High School graduate and a member of the 2nd Infantry Division, was killed March 20, 2005, by a single shot to the back.
But Paco Martinez, 44, who served during the first Gulf War, made an unusual decision after his son's death: He re-enlisted in the Air Force, as a way of honoring his son's decision and coping with his death.
He deployed voluntarily to Iraq last summer with the 610th Security Forces Squadron, a reserve outfit based at Naval Air Station Fort Worth.
"Hes a pretty inspirational guy," said Maj. Keith Goodenough, operations officer for the unit.
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