MAJ Michael Martinez was born on April 29, 1962 in Frankfurt, Germany. His father, Command Sergeant Major (Ret) Raymond C. Martinez, was a career soldier and Vietnam veteran. Major Martinez enlisted in the Army in 1988 as a paralegal specialist. He was assigned to the 6th Infantry Division (Light Infantry), Fort Wainwright, Alaska from 1988-1992, serving as a paralegal specialist and NCOIC of the claims section. In 1991 Major Martinez attended court reporting school and graduated with honors, receiving the Hibben Award for the highest final average in Court Reporting at the Naval Justice School. He returned to Fort Wainwright where he served as a court reporter. In 1992 Major Martinez was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas, where he served as the senior court reporter. He was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant in September 1992.
In 1995 Major Martinez left active duty to pursue a law degree at the University of Missouri School of Law in Columbia, Missouri. While enrolled as a full-time student, he served in the Missouri Army National Guard as a court reporter. Upon graduation from law school and admission to the Missouri Bar, Major Martinez returned to active duty in October 1998 as a First Lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
Following the 147th Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course, Major Martinez reported to the 24th Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas where he served as a legal assistance attorney and trial counsel. In 2001 he was assigned to the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, as the Chief of Military Justice and subsequently as the Chief of Administrative Law. In 2004 Major Martinez was assigned to the 7th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado as the Chief, Legal Assistance. Major Martinez volunteered to deploy to Iraq with the Fort Carson-based 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR), and joined that unit in Iraq in November 2005.
On 7 January 2006 Major Martinez was returning from Baghdad to the 3rd ACR headquarters near Tal Afar, Iraq, when the Blackhawk helicopter he was flying in crashed, killing Major Martinez and 11 other passengers and crew. Major Martinez was posthumously promoted to Major on 10 January 2006.
Major Martinez’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, the Airborne badge, and the Air Assault badge.
On June 4, 2007, MAJ Martinez's stained glass pane was dedicated in the Hall of Heroes.
May God bless him and his family.