Pvt Bob Martin: a Story of Courage

[May 11, 2020]  I first met Bob Martin standing guard on a small bridge near my Engineer headquarters back in 2004, just as the Coalition was readying itself for a major offensive.  What none of us knew at the time was that U.S. Marine Pvt Robert “Bob” Martin would soon show extraordinary bravery.  This is his story of courage.

Not walking past a problem, I stopped to make a note of his uniform deficiency (without rank).  U.S. Marine Pvt Bob Martin politely told me that his commander had reduced him in rank, and not having rank on his uniform was technically correct.  He did note that he expected to get his rank back soon.  I thanked him for his honesty and said I would attend his promotion in person; he would just need to let me know when and where.  And I was there, only a week later.  But that is not the story.

Fast forward two months, now-Pfc Martin was part of the Second Battle of Fallujah.  During that battle, a squad of eight Marines was ordered to seize the entrance to an old Iraqi army base and await the follow-on assault forces to break in and destroy the insurgents inside.  It was a difficult task, but doing something dangerous was commonplace during that particular battle.

Pfc Martin was outside the entrance with his squad buddies when a dump truck full of explosives came barreling down the road straight for them.  The suicide bomber inside the cab was intent on killing all the Marines holding onto their objective.  And, several insurgents began firing into the Marine location with small arms fire.  Bob Martin and his squad had been told to hold their ground.  It meant no flexibility and that is what those two Marines did that day.

Quickly killing the cement truck driver with a great shot from his M4 carbine, Pfc Martin jumped into the cab to grab the deadman’s device that would have allowed the truck to explode.  This action took unusual courage for two reasons.  First, the fact the truck was about to explode, and second, his squad was still under deadly fire from insurgents.

While others were ducking for cover with the knowledge that suicide drivers always used these devices to set off their deadly cargo, if killed early, Martin ran to the truck to stop it from killing the Marines.  For his courageous actions in a deadly fight, Lee was given what he most desired, a thank you from his buddies.

There was no big medal of bravery or special recognition from a Marine General.  There was no fanfare or parade.  He would not get a bonus point in the classroom or extra credit.  What USMC Pfc Martin did that day was what Marines do.  And, that is a special story of courage.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

19 thoughts on “Pvt Bob Martin: a Story of Courage

  1. Greg Heyman

    There will be many times in our lives that we will be tested; some big and some small tests. Looks like Bob Martin was tested in a big big way and at a very young age. This is what makes heroes and as it should be.

  2. old warrior

    There was a serious ass-wuppin given to the insurgent wimps at the battle. Our boys sure know how to deliver a gut punch. Congrats to our Marines.

  3. Valkerie

    Great article today, General Satterfield. When you use real people in difficult circumstances, it makes for interesting reading. I only wish I could be as brave as this young man.

  4. Shawn C. Stolarz

    After Navy Seabees from NMCB-23 at the substation located just northeast of the city shut off electrical power to the city, two Marine Regimental Combat Teams, the Regimental Combat Team 1 (RCT-1) and Regimental Combat Team 7 (RCT-7) launched an attack along the northern edge of the city. USMC PFC Martin was probably in one of these RCTs.

    1. Linux Man

      This battle has been discussed and used as examples several times in this blog. It was one of the toughest battles of the Iraq War and one that showed how well our men fought. Congrats to those who were there, you are true heroes in my book.

  5. lydia

    Great article. I love reading these blog posts about courage and the people who are there in the face of danger and do the right thing. Especially when they are overcoming evil.

    1. Willie Shrumburger

      That’s what being in the US military is about.

  6. Eric Coda

    We are fortunate to have people like Pfc Martin in our military. USMC Marines rock!

  7. Dale Paul Fox

    I have spent many years in college getting my two degrees and never saw an act of courage. At least in the US Marines, it is an act that is not that uncommon.

    1. Max Foster

      More people get college degrees and work longer and harder at it than Pfc Martin did in this story of courage. So, the question that I must ask is “Is a college education more important than courage?” Hummmmm. I would like someone to answer that question. I’ve tried.

      1. Lynn Pitts

        Max, you certainly know how to pose a great question. I can’t answer it without caveats in my answer. I’m not a quisling, so don’t get me wrong. I believe bravery is more important; moral and physical courage. I will also add that I believe colleges and universities downplay and demonize courage as a less-than-useful trait. Why? It’s obvious, in my opinion, because university leaders don’t want to be challenged. They want the power, pure and simple. No use having a bunch of students threatening their cozy positions and high salaries.

        1. JT Patterson

          You are right on target Lynn. Well written and thoughtful answer. 😊

      2. Harry Donner

        Whoa! Great question Max and Lynn’s answer was spot-on. I will also agree that bravery — all kinds — is a greater trait than education. We obviously, however, need both.

  8. Army Captain

    Courage, a rare characteristic indeed.

    1. Randy Goodman

      Thanks Army Cpt. Always great to hear from you and to see you confirming what is being written here and that others who make comments are accurate. Again, thanks for your service to our nation.

    2. Otto Z. Zuckermann

      Yes, thanks Army Captain. I look forward to these articles and also reading what you have to say.

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