Face of Defense: Airman Brings Age, Experience to Montana Base
MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. --
The Air Force raised the maximum age for enlisted members from 27 to 39 years old in mid-2014, allowing an airman serving in the 341st Logistics Readiness Squadron here to contribute his experience.
Air Force Airman 1st Class Mark Martinez is responsible for maintaining base government vehicles. He ensures the vehicles are clean, in working condition and ready to go. Martinez also drives a wrecker truck to retrieve downed military vehicles.
Martinez joined the Air Force in November 2016 at age 39.
Serving His Country
Martinez said he wanted to answer a call to serve his country and to continue his secondary education. His son was about to graduate high school and they were going to join together.
“He decided he did not want to join the military,” Martinez said. “I wasn’t upset, but I told him, ‘I don’t care what you do, as long as you are the best you can be at whatever you do.’”
Martinez left his three sons and his wife, Theresa, to attend basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. Being expected to perform the same as or better than airman half his age didn’t bother Martinez much, although he wondered how his age might affect him.
“Am I going to be able to keep up?” Martinez said, recalling his thinking during basic training. “The first week of BMT was rough but I pushed myself to give everything I could. I felt like I was in good shape and I was keeping up with the younger airmen.”
Martinez graduated, completed technical training and arrived here March 2017. Two months later, Martinez turned 40.
Staying Positive, Motivated
Since being here, he said he has stayed positive and motivated and tries to mentor the younger airmen he works with to get them more involved and hands-on.
“I try to let the other airmen know that time is the most valuable asset in life,” Martinez said. “That, no matter what you do, you can never get your time back.”
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Clifford Teel, 341st LRS noncommissioned officer in charge of equipment support, said Martinez has never stopped smiling.
“He’ll tell you that he is blessed to have the opportunity to serve this late in his life, and that he considers himself lucky and always arrives ready to accomplish whatever needs to be done,” Teel said of Martinez. “He is progressing through training in order to become a more effective airman and has never used his age as an excuse, only as a tool.
“He uses his age to motivate his fellow airmen and his leaders,” Teel continued. “Martinez is definitely an asset to our Malmstrom team, and we are blessed to have him as part of our family.”
Martinez said he loves being at Malmstrom and is grateful for the opportunities the Air Force provides.
“I’m humbled to be here, to be in good health and to serve in the Air Force,” Martinez said.