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Joe (Dee) Martin, KIA Vietnam

"The dead soldier's silence sings our national anthem.' - Rev. Aaron Kilbourn

If you were born in the 1940s in our small town, there was one hospital where we were all born. Mountain View Hospital was no bigger than a small house. Joseph Thomas Martin was born there on May 1, 1946, three years and five months before I was born in the same place and five months before Eddy. He grew up on Pacific Street in a house next door to where I lived until I was four years old. I never knew him but I find it fascinating that he was running around playing in the yard next to us during my earliest years. My family moved to another part of town, but that street is where Joe spent his entire growing up years with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph W. Martin and his brothers. Joe was the youngest of three boys and one of those brothers, the youngest of the two, began calling his little brother "Dee" and the name stuck.

Joe spent much of his young life fishing in the local lakes - Santa Margarita and Nacimiento. He also did a lot of hunting and camping. He loved cars and after graduating from high school in 1965 he took automotive classes at the junior college. But his interest in auto mechanics was cut short when he was drafted in May of 1966, 11 months after high school graduation.

Joe was sent to Fort Riley, Kansas for basic combat training prior to being sent to Vietnam on January 10th, 1967, exactly one year before Eddy arrived.

In February 2018, I took a boat ride down the Mekong Delta and I had phantom flashbacks of our soldiers doing the same during war time. Joe Martin was one of those soldiers. He was sent to the Mekong Delta with the Mobile Ravine Force in Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division. His rank was SP4 and he was an M-60 machine gunner.

Six months after he arrived, there was an operation called Concordia that involved both the Ravine Force and the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), whom we were there to help, to save their country from communism. This became a 3 day battle in which 46 American soldiers were killed. It was Father's Day on June 19th, 1967 on the first day of this battle. It was a month after he turned 21 when "Dee" Martin, on this day, lost his young life in an area close to the town of Ap Bac in the Long An Province, a long way from his home on Pacific Street where he had grown up in the fifties, with thoughts of fishing, hunting and fixing cars. Joseph "Dee" Martin you are not forgotten.

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