Merle James Martin

Private First Class
Army of the United States
26 September 1948 - 28 January 1969
Omak, Washington
Panel 33W Line 008

Silver Star

Combat Infantry

Bronze Star, Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign
Jim Martin

The database page for Merle James Martin

07 Sep 2004

Some didn't come home from the Vietnam War

     Army Pfc Merle "Jim" Martin was one of the soldiers who didn't return from Vietnam.
     The Omak native, son of Merle and Genny Martin, Omak, graduated From Omak High School in 1967. Less than two years later, on Jan. 14, 1969, he was shot while trying to help other soldiers injured by sniper fire.
     He died Jan 28, 1969, after being in Vietnam less than four months.
     Martin served with the 4th Platoon, a weapons platoon in charge of mortars. He was decorated posthumously with the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart, according to his sister, Gen Hull, Omak.
     Martin volunteered for Army service, although his sister says he had a low draft number.
     "We were raised in a very patriotic family," she says. "My parents were involved in the Legion, 40 et Eight, etc. Growing up we helped place the flags downtown on holidays.
     "Volunteering was the right thing to do."
     She provided a copy of a letter her parents received after his death from several members of his squad.
     "We would like to offer our deepest sympathies to you," the seven soldiers wrote in response to a letter from the Martins asking for information about how their son died. "We all knew and liked Jim a great deal."
     They wrote sniper fire began as the platoon moved off a road Jan 14, 1969, to set up.
     "Our commanding officer and two other men went to check it out," they wrote. "One man was wounded and our C.O. was killed."
     Martin and a few others volunteered to go out and help them.
     "As they were moving toward the wounded, more sniper fire was taken," the letter continued. "Jim returned the fire (to) try to put out enough fire power to hold the enemy down, while the other men attended the wounded. As Jim was reaching for more ammo the sniper came out of hiding and shot Jim three or four times."

Martin died two weeks later.
     "This touched us deeply," the men wrote. "He was a very great and brave man. We all are proud to have been associated with him."
     Hull, 13 months older than her brother, said even though her brother died 24 years ago, "in some ways it's like it was yesterday."
     Family members are still in the process of learning to deal with his death, she says, adding each member has leaned to cope in a different way.
     "I guess the key factor for me and most others is time," Hull says. "Part of my difficulty was I was surrounded by talk of Vietnam, at work, on TV, in the papers and magazines.
     "I was on a college campus - WVC Wenatchee and WSU - and there were war protest marches, sit-ins, etc.," Hull says. "For me, it was hard to be civil to people who were against the war because what I heard them say was 'Your brother died for nothing' and 'He is of no value'.
     "I felt it was unpatriotic to say or question U.S. policy - yes, I've changed since then."
     The family had no coping mechanism, she says.
     "We didn't expect Jim to die," Hull says. "No one expected their friend or family member to die. That always happens to someone else.
     "Jim was shot and then lived for two weeks before he died. We expected him to come home. He didn't. We miss him."
     She said the family recently was contacted by a man who served with her brother.
     "Far me, that was healing. It helped," she says.
     After years of reflection on the events in Vietnam. Hull says the man told the family, "It was a stupid war. but I'm fiercely loyal to those who went over there."

Source unknown
Reproduced under 17 USC �107

Jim (center) heading for boot camp in May 1968

Jim in the field in Vietnam

Merle J. "Jim" Martin was wounded on Jan 14, 1969 and died two weeks later. I was with him and he was a hero without question! Jim volunteered to go get three of our men who were wounded and dying so that they could be medivac'd out. While accomplishing that, he was hit himself and although able to crawl out the damage had been done.

I met Jim's Mom and sister after coming home through "In Touch" and they were glad for the visit. His sister Gen gave me the photo of Jim reporting for boot camp and the newspaper article reproduced above.

I do my best to honor his name and would like folks to know Jim gave his life willingly, that they might live free.

Pete Rock

Notes from The Virtual Wall

The "Commanding Officer" mentioned by PFC Martin's squadmates was 2LT John M. O'Farrell.

Jim Martin also is remembered on "Faces from the Wall":

Pfc. Merle James (Jim) Martin, 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. Merle Martin Sr., of Omak died of combat wounds in a hospital in Vietnam Jan 28 (1969). He was wounded by a land-mine explosion in Vietnam Jan 14. Born at Omak 26 Sep 1948 he attended school here graduating from high school in 1967. Before entering the Army last April he worked for Biles-Coleman Lumber Co. Survivors include: his parents: his sisters, Genevee Hull, Wenatchee, and Connie Martin, Omak; and a brother Arthur D.Martin, Omak. Precht Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Omak article (Wenatchee Daily World, Wenatchee 4 Feb 1969)

Pfc. Merle James (Jim) Martin - Services will be held Thursday at 2pm from the Precht Funeral Home in Omak with full military honors. Interment will be at Omak Memorial Cem. Arrangements in Precht Funeral Home, Omak.

Courtesy of
Darilee Bednar

Faces from the Wall

Top of Page

Virtual Wall icon

Back to
To alpha index M
WA State Index . Panel 33W
22ND INF RGT Index

Contact Us

With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 08/10/2009