GMC instructor sees first election in Iraq
By Payton Towns III – The Union-Recorder
Cpt. Larry Martin said he will never forget the day people in Iraq did something most people in America take for granted – vote.
Martin, a military instructor at Georgia Military College, said he\’s glad he got the chance to see people in Iraq come out in droves to vote in their first-ever election earlier this year.
\”I watched (Iraqi) soldiers cry as they went in to vote,\” Martin said. \”They came up and said \’Thank you and God bless America.\’ It was something to see people crying and thanking us. It was a part of history we were watching.\”
Martin said they were not allowed to be near the polls but were able to watch from a nearby mountain.
\”It was just amazing to see,\” he said. \”They went to vote. Some got out and walked a mile or two. We (in America) have cars and a lot of us don\’t go. I thought, when I get back to Milledgeville, I have to share this because it doesn\’t get any better than this. Good things are happening over there (in Iraq).\”
Martin said he is writing a journal.
\”I try to write every other day,\” he said. \”I have taken a ton of pictures. The most amazing thing is there are so many children over there. They are bright. I will never forget this experience. I want to share this with the community when I come back.\”
Martin, 48, grew up in Fulton and Gwinnett counties, went to Brewton Parker Junior College and moved north to Milledgeville where he met his wife Eva.
\”That\’s where I fell in love with her and this community,\” Martin said. \”I figure to go ahead and make this home.\”
The Martins have a daughter, Thyjuana, and son, Landon.
He has been at GMC for about three years. Martin joined the National Guard in 1984 and got out in 1997 when he transferred to the Army reserves. He was moved to a division in New York and was deployed to Iraq in December of 2004.
He is stationed in the northwest part of Iraq.
\”I will be over there until December of this year,\” Martin said. \”My duty description is as a brigade operations officer. I\’m involved in the planning of operations that elements of our unit do. That\’s pretty much all I can tell. We go out and do different things. … When I left, things were going pretty good. Where I am, morale is pretty good. We\’ve become close to each other. It\’s a dangerous place still, but there are good things that are happening.\”
He came home in late March for rest and relaxation.
\”I just wanted to be home when the kids were on spring break so that I could spend some time with them,\” Martin said. \”Each soldier gets an opportunity to have R&R. I\’ve had a chance to go back to GMC and talk with cadets. It was real good to go back and answer questions they have. It made it better that they were glad to see me. Having an opportunity to be a part of the GMC family is great.\”
Martin is scheduled to return to Iraq on Monday.
\”I will go back and pick up my protective gear,\” Martin said. \”Every soldiers gets this body armor. It\’s pretty good equipment, but it\’s heavy too.\”
Serving in the military means there will be sacrifices, Martin said. He has missed Christmas, holidays and birthdays, along with ball games his children has played.
\”It makes me feel sad to miss those things, but I feel like that is part of the sacrifice you have to make when you choose to serve your country,\” Martin said. \”It\’s a sacrifice but it\’s one that needs to be made because others have sacrificed before me. I have made great new friends who will be there for me for life. We have people who have come from all walks of life.\”
Martin said he keeps in touch with news and events by reading The Union-Recorder on the Internet.
\”Being able to (read on the Internet) makes it feel like I\’m not so far away,\” he said. \”I also get e-mail and snail mail. It\’s wonderful to get those. … This community … is a wonderful place. Most of the people I\’ve met here are like me. They came here for a few years but it became their home. That says a whole lot. The support I\’ve gotten from the community, GMC and my church, Flagg Chapel Baptist Church has been wonderful. They have all been tremendously supportive.\”
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