MSGT (USAF Retired) JOSE MARTINEZ • NOVEMBER 14, 1935 -- July 19, 2020
If we truly believe that our country is the land of opportunity for immigrants in search of the American Dream, then Mr. Jose (Joe) Martinez is a perfect example.
Although we do not know the particular details, we can envision a young 12-year old Mexican boy in the beautiful city of Acapulco somehow having the opportunity of a lifetime. The opportunity of coming to the United States with an American Couple who took interest in this energetic, enthusiastic young boy. Perhaps he got their attention with his positive can-do attitude, his sparkling dark eyes and beautiful smile; whatever it may have been, he never took this opportunity for granted and never forgot where he came from.
Growing up in Connecticut, he graduated from Woodstock Academy and joined the United States Air Force. His career took him all over the world receiving awards and decorations, and retiring with the rank of MSGT. He and his wife Ernestina were the proud parents of five children (his son MSgt Jose Martinez and daughter Marisa Martinez Beal; and sons, Jesus Cerda (USAF Retired), Enrique Cerda (MSgt USAF Retired) and Daniel Cerda.
As I was gathering comments for this article from friends and family I would ask “What do you remember about Mr. Martinez?” Sergio Diaz, our DRHCC President, recalled: “He was everywhere, always involved in our community. If there was an event going on, you just knew Joe would be there. Most of the time he would approach you with a Raffle ticket book of some sort, or tickets for a Bar-b-Que.” Always for a fundraiser for his beloved American GI Forum, where he was Commander during the time of his passing. Sergio was right on, and if there was a community event going on, we knew Joe would be there helping in anyway he could. If there was a Veteran’s Parade during Veteran’s, or Memorial Day, we knew that it was Mr. Martinez who was the organizer.
The last time I spoke with Mr. Martinez was when I delivered our monthly Del Rio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Newsletter. I always dropped it in their mailbox, but this time, as if planned, he happened to be out in his front yard. So we chatted as I handed him the Newsletter. He said “you know Mrs. Alcala’ I don’t know about you, but I am ready to retire; I mean really retire, so that Tina and I can spend more time traveling and visiting family.” I said “Joe, you have the right idea, because life is short!” We said our usual good-byes with “One for the Road!”
Little did I know that indeed life is short and this would be the last time I spoke to our good friend, Jose Martinez. Life has many twists and turns, and we never know what the next day may bring. As we celebrated the New Year 2020, we were looking forward to the beginning of a new decade, instead we were greeted with a deadly virus (COVID-19) that would develop into a world Pandemic. It was this deadly virus that took the life of our friend, but not the memory we have of this proud American who served his country and community with pride.
We, the Del Rio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce members are proud to honor his memory. As we raise our glass we toast to his memory and recall his favorite saying: “Here’s One for the Road!”