After 40 years in the U.S. Army Reserves, 59-year old Richard Martinez is finally fulfilling his dream of serving in war. With 37 grandchildren, Martinez's large family must cope as he leaves for the Persian Gulf War.
After Serving 40 Years, Army Reservist Richard Martinez Gets His Wish
TOM BROKAW, anchor:
Operation Desert Storm, it turns out, is a war being fought by a slightly older military, on average, in their middle to late 20's. In Vietnam, the draft meant a younger fighting force. And tonight, NBC's Bob Dotson in California tells us about a man who's in a category all of his own.
BON DOTSON, reporting:
How do you tell a child grandpa is going to war?
RICHARD MARTINEZ: Don't cry.
DOTSON: How do you tell him that is Grandpa's dream?
MARTINEZ: Good bye.
TRINIDAD MARTINEZ: I'm going to miss you, Dad. I love you very much.
DOTSON: Just six months short of 60, Richard Martinez has been called to fight a war for the first time in his life.
MARTINEZ: The blood flows through my veinswith military feelings, when the flags go by it's--it's--it just hits me.
DOSTON: Martinez joined the Army reserves in 1950, but was never mobilized. His full time job was building trucks for the military. Still, he never missed a meeting. He and his wife Trinidad have not had an anniversary together in 25 years. It always fell during his summer training.
TRINIDAD MARTINEZ: I've always considered his military first love, and I am his second love, and I can't take that away from him.
DOTSON: Now, after nearly half a century, the Army needs what he has learned. Martinez has 37 reasons not to go, his grandchildren. He fathered a dozen kids, and one by one recruited them into the military. His daughter Ruth is on active duty. His grandson, Richard, is stationed 30 miles from the Kuwaiti border.
MARTINEZ: Grandpa is going to get daddy for you.
TRINIDAD MARTINEZ: She thinks he's going to go pick up her daddy, so they can all go to McDonald's.
DOTSON: They all cried for that child-like faith in their final hours together.
Unidentified Woman #1: I'll miss you, Daddy.
DOTSON: The kids had planned to send their parents on a cruise this September, to celebrate Pop's retirement. Now he'll be gone for a year. They told him of one special gift which will be waiting, Sarge is going to be a grandfather again, for the 38th time. Bob Dotson, NBC News, San Jose, California.