Army Sgt. Timothy P. Martin, 27, Pixley; killed in roadside bombing
By By Janet Wilson
|Los Angeles Times Staff Writer|
Mar 02, 2008 | 12:00 AM
Army Sgt. Timothy P. Martin often found himself surrounded by Iraqi children clamoring for candy and pens as he made his rounds. He asked his older sister and mother to send him a big box of both.
His sister Alisa, a dentist, laughingly replied, "What are you doing asking a dentist for hard candy?"
But his mother, Lucy, bought bags of candy and boxes of pens Feb. 7, planning to ship them to her son the next day. "I had a box ready to send him," she said.
She never got the chance. As she was standing in the kitchen the next morning, she heard the doorbell ring and her husband, Anthony, answer it.
"Right away I knew. As soon as I heard the word 'Army,' " she said.
Her youngest child had been killed in the Iraqi city of Taji.
Martin, 27, was born and raised near the small Central Valley farming town of Pixley, just off California 99. He graduated from Monache High School in Porterville in 1996 and earned a bachelor's degree in biology in 2004 at St. Mary's College of California in Moraga.
One of Martin's college professors remembered him at a memorial service as a true Renaissance man because of his widely varied interests and accomplishments. He competed in numerous sports, including weightlifting, football and basketball. He majored in human biology, and chose to enter the military in 2005 after graduation.
Although he was a loving son, he never wanted to follow in his father's footsteps as a dairy, corn and hay farmer, his mother said. Martin wanted to be an FBI agent. He hoped that studying and performing intelligence work in the military would help him win a spot with the federal agency.
"He was very competitive in every aspect of life," his mother said. "Tim was always very quiet, but always listened to people, and I think the FBI fit in his personality. . . . Tim was someone who loved to learn. He was intelligent, and he hoped that [the Army] would give him a chance."
Martin went to interrogation and intelligence classes as part of his training and studied Arabic for eight months before being shipped overseas. He also became an expert sharpshooter. He served in the Army for three years but had been in Iraq just two months. He was doing intelligence work while attached to an infantry unit when he was killed, his mother said.
She recalled her last phone conversation with him. He had been on duty all night and it was 3 a.m. his time Jan. 28. "Oh, Mom," he said, "I have lots of stories I could tell you. But I don't want to get in trouble."
"Tell me when you come back," she said.
In his last e-mail to her, on Feb. 5, he promised that he would catch her up with lots of stories when he returned. He thanked her for everything and then, as always, concluded with "Love you, Tim."
"I always told him I loved him, and I always expected him to say, 'Me too' or whatever, but even if he was in a roomful of guys, he would always say, 'I love you too, Mom,' " she recalled.
Martin was buried in Tulare Cemetery next to his sister Bryna, who died of leukemia in 1990.