WACO, Texas (KWTX) One Central Texas Hero gave decades of his life to serve in the U.S. Army.
But he credits the military for making him the man he is today.
Marty Martinez shares his story in Central Texas Heroes.
As a boy of 17, Marty Martinez saw himself going down the wrong path and tried to avoid it.
"Gang type situations and I says no way, I got to get out of here," he told us.
He enlisted in the Army in 1956 and his eyes were opened to a new world, from the streets of his neighborhood to the sophisticated universe of military communications.
"We used to have big old vans here we used to communicate back and forth, put up antennas and all that and send out signals," he told us.
Martinez left briefly but the camaraderie of the Army called him back to new adventures: Ranger school and then teaching soldiers skills they would use in Vietnam.
By 1968, Martinez was approaching 30 but Uncle Sam decided it was time for him to go to Vietnam.
He ended up on long range patrols.
They were on recon missions monitoring locations for enemy activity.
Martinez said, "we would look around an area, get as much intelligence as we possibly could, and then come back in."
But while they were meant to be unseen, they sometimes found themselves the target of the Viet Cong.
One night the VC stumbled onto Martinez's camp resulting in a deadly attack.
"Had one individual that got killed. Myself and two others also got wounded. I have shrapnel in my cheek right here," he told us, "I just saw stars but I got back in the firefight."
Martinez left Vietnam in 1969 but he remained in the military until 1977.
He wanted to make a career serving the nation that directed him from a possibly dark path to a bright and prosperous one.
"I love the military and I really love this country. That's what inspired me to stay in," Martinez said.