Bobby Martin, Corporal
United States Marine Corps
E Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Division
September 1966-September 1968
I got my tattoo on Fathers Day 1987 or '88, we stopped at a red light, my wife wanted to buy me something, I looked out the window, we were right next to a tattoo parlor, and i said "You know what? I want that Marine tattoo" My oldest daughter designed the letters along the top, and I went and got it.
I think about a lot of things when I think of those days. It's mostly the comradeship, most Marines will tell you the same thing we were like a family in that short period that we were together. I miss the hell out of them. But I also remember the day I got wounded.
I was wounded on October 21st 1967 -- mortar round. There was three of us, and we was on a patrol -- that's a date that as long as I live I'll never forget anything from like 5 seconds before it went off until I got out of the hospital.'
After the mortar went off, I knew I was hit bad because I was bleeding in the front -- tore a hole in the front of my stomach, and there were holes all in my arms and I could feel the blood all rolling around in my back -- I was sitting on the ground -- I had a hole up in the middle of my back, just between the wing blades that missed the spine, fortunately, but just nicked the artery. My best friend saved my life by sticking his finger in there and pinching it off. And he said to me "Bobby, I can' t stop the bleeding." I was weak, I was tired, I knew that I was bleeding to death.
At that point I knew it was over -- I knew I wasn't going to make it. At that moment, I was at peace with myself -- I wasn't upset, I sat there and waited for the end.
My first thought had been to pray to God, but then my second was "Well, it's too late for that." But I figured, we took enough of them with us -- the slate was clean.
The thing that really saved me was that there was a medivac that was flying right over head -- he heard the radio call and said "I'm right there" and they picked me up. When we landed at the air strip in DaNang, they didn't even take me off the chopper -- two corpsmen jumped in, and they grabbed my arms and started giving me plasma and blood. And when you're bleeding to death you get really tired and you feel like you're going to fall asleep. And as they were giving me blood, I'm watching them, squeezing these bags and I started to come awake, and once I came around and realized what was going on, I started feeling the pain a little bit. From there they took me across the tarmac -- as they were running me across, I believe it was the Red Cross, asking me my name, address, where my mom and dad was -- they took me into the X-Ray room and cut my clothes off, they didn't pull anything off, they just cut everything off me. X-Rayed me and next thing I knew, they wheeled me right into the operating room.
Talking to guys from the company afterwards, they told me that we were wounded at about 9:20 Saturday morning and I belive they started the operation at 10:45, so within an hour and twenty minutes I was forty miles away and in the operating room. The surgeons told me afterwards that I should have bled to death, and that the wounds themself should have killed me, but somewhere there I had the will to live.
It's like my 2nd birthday -- I started life again right then. I celebrate it every year with my wife and my kids. My wife -- we were engaged before I went over, she waited for me -- always huggs me and kisses me on that day -- It's a day I'll never forget.
I always wanted to be a Marine. Just the idea of doing something that I thought was right -- if you believe in something, like freedom, that strongly then I think you should be willing to defend it. Thats what I thought about it.
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