Facebook Twitter



A 59-year-old great-grandfather from San Jose, Calif., is following in the footsteps of a grandson and heading off to Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf war.

Richard Martinez, a sergeant major in the Army Reserves for 40 years, was ordered to report to active duty at Fort Knox on Friday.Richard Guevara, his grandson, is an Army mortician stationed 30 miles from the Kuwaiti border.

Martinez had twice volunteered to go to the Middle East, once in August and again in the fall. He finally received a telegram from President Bush last week calling him to active duty.

Martinez said most of his family members - including his wife, 12 children, 37 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren - support his decision to serve in the war.

One exception is Guevara, who in a letter last week urged his grandfather to stay home.

"He just felt that my dad was a grandfather and a great-grandfather and his place was at home, not to be over there fighting," said Elizabeth Guevara, Martinez's daughter.

However, Martinez said he is motivated by patriotism.

"It's a part of me, it's in my blood," he said. "Everytime I see a flag or a parade I get something in my throat, and it's a good feeling."

Although he has never served in a war, Martinez was a National Guardsman in the Watts riots of 1965 and in the University of California-Berkeley campus protests in 1969.

Martinez is not sure what his assignment will be in Saudi Arabia and doubts he will be in combat.

He is retired from FMC Corp., where he worked for about 30 years helping to build Bradley Fighting Vehicles. After his 1986 retirement, he went to work for the Council on Aging of Santa Clara County, Calif.