On this and every day, thanks to all the servicemembers and veterans who take on the most important job a country can ask of its citizens.
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; 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. October 21st 1967 -- mortar round. 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 had a hole up in the middle of my back, that missed the spine, fortunately, but just nicked the artery. My best friend 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.
The thing that really saved me was that there was a medevac 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. Talking to guys from the company afterwards, they told me that we were wounded at about 9:20 Saturday morning and I believe 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 themselves 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 hugs 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. That's what I thought about it.
From my photo project Warpaint: Tattoo Culture and the Armed Forces