July 31, 2006

Here's why...

The year was 1991. After 9+ years of military service in both the US Army Reserve and the US Air Force that spanned the intervention in the island of Grenada, the hunting of Manuel Noriega in Panama, the bombing of Libya, the fall of the Berlin Wall and culminated with the end of the Gulf War, I felt that the US was ready to enjoy the peace dividend.

During my last months in North Dakota I even took part on the security detail associated with portions of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). It was surreal to see officers of the Soviet Union armed forces participating in a B-1 Bomber demonstration right at Grand Forks AFB in North Dakota. Two years before that, an entire class of nuclear weapons was dismantled and done away with in central Europe - medium range missiles like the US Army Pershing and US Air Force Ground Launch Cruise Missiles (GLCM). The Clinton administration and congress were cutting defense spending and the civilian sector was getting very lucrative and enticing.

I separated from the Air Force and dedicated the following 15 years to make a living from what had become my hobby in the military: computer technology. Then came 2001...

As an American, I reeled in horror and disbelieve when the Twin Towers fell in the state that welcomed me to the world. As an Information Technology professional I was already feeling the pinch of the Dot Com collapse in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. By the summer of 2002 the company that employed both my son and I was running out of cash and had already gone through a couple of rounds of layoffs. Paquito needed money for college and a break from school and the job market was not so hospitable fro 17 year olds with nothing more than high school. He decided to pursuit a three year contract with the US Army so he could see the world and get educational and financial benefits but really more so he could alleviate the economics of our household.

We began a physical training program to get a skateboarding teen that was never into sports or fitness and an aging computer programmer that was quite over weight and completely out of shape to achieve a minimum Army fitness standard. We pulled it off. Indeed back in the summer of 2002, I came very, very close to re-join the US Army. However, financial considerations kept me from it.

After Paquito was killed in action on March 20, 2005, I reconsidered the prospect of service, but it was too soon and I had to make sure I was doing it for the right reasons and not neglect a very tender Maria and Monica.

I have been quoted before by the Associated Press about my views on the decision to go into Iraq without the backing of the international community and all of our allies. Yet, I feel that I can no longer stand by the side line while the good name of our nation and our men and women in uniform is jeopardized by incidents of misconduct or questionable ethics. I am referring to incidents like these:

PFC Green

Marines in Haditha

There has been others and there may even be future ones, but my Son and the name and memory of our whole nation deserves better. Every time an incident like this happens I ask: Where were the Non Commissioned Officers (NCO)? What are parents teaching or forgetting to teach our young men?

Well, I could be like many others and voice or comment about my dismay, or if given the opportunity I could become part of the solution. During our elections, I certainly do my part to use our democratic system to effect the changes that I feel would be best for our elected leadership. However, being that there is also a role for the citizen soldier, I have decided to go for it. I am trying to get back into the US Air Force as a reservist.

That is the reason why I have been absent from a lot of the forums and communities that I normally partake of. I am back in a strict exercise and diet regiment to make sure that I will measure up to the Air Force's standards. I have also been dusting off old field manuals and reviewing skills like land navigation and small arms marksmanship.

I am an old timer but the young troops need guidance and experience. I as well as all of my friends and family want to see America's participation in armed conflict come to an end sooner rather than later, but for as long as our nation is at war we need to do things as right as humanly possible.

Joining any of the armed forces reserve components can still very well land you in a battle field, but if that does not happen and while not deployed it should just mean one weekend a month and fifteen days in the summer. The rest of the time I should be able to remain Paco the Mono enthusiast and computer geek you all have learned to live with :)

I thank all of you friends and family for the support you give my Martinez-Figueroa clan. God bless you all.

Posted by martinf at July 31, 2006 05:37 PM

I hope this won't come off selfish in the face of all the troubles of the world, but what about me and my need for kick-ass gtk# installers for Windows??

But seriously, good luck dude. I admire your passion.

Posted by: Scott at July 31, 2006 09:57 PM

"""There has been others and there may even be future ones, but my Son and the name and memory of our whole nation deserves better. Every time an incident like this happens I ask: Where were the Non Commissioned Officers (NCO)? What are parents teaching or forgetting to teach our young men?"""

This stuff happens in every conflict, it speaks to the nature of our violent origins, not the character of our nation.

Posted by: Aaron at August 1, 2006 12:38 AM

Why can't you learn from your mistakes? People like you make it possible that the wrong wars never end. The young troops need guidance, but in a different way than you think. They need someone to help them go AWOL, to hide them from the military police, to question the authorities, not someone like you who is telling them to follow their leaders and die a pointless death.

Posted by: Götz Waschk at August 1, 2006 01:12 AM

The world needs a peaceful America in the first place. Innocent young ( and old ) people are killed every day in the name of your so called democracy. The US is the main source of terror in the world today.

Posted by: Joris Willems at August 1, 2006 02:14 AM

I salute you.

Posted by: Jae Stutzman at August 1, 2006 08:10 AM

Just a "me too"; I totaly agree with Joris

Posted by: Markus at August 1, 2006 02:48 PM

Thank you for your service and dedication, past, present, and future.

Posted by: Nicholas Hanson at August 1, 2006 04:47 PM


The best solution for you and for alls americains soldiers : GO HOME.
Let your democraty for you and use it in your society and city wher there are many many people leave in miserable situation. Listen you ahve a big crasy president and he is marionet in hands staff : Dick cheney, romsfeld e...

GO HOME for you peace let irak for irakian : OK

Posted by: dominique at August 2, 2006 02:31 AM

Paco, the strength of your convictions never ceases to amaze me. Those who are leaving negative comments would be so surprised if they actually knew you. Thank you!

Posted by: Dan G at August 2, 2006 05:41 PM

Hi Paco,

Kevin and I were talking a few weeks ago, and I asked him if he knew what was going on with you, because you hadn't posted anything in your blog since late May. He said he didn't know what was going on then, but I'm sure he'll stumble upon this blog entry soon enough.

Aaron is incorrect, this troop misbehavior BS does not happen in every conflict. You Paco, and many other experienced soldiers I know, are proof that he is wrong. That is why it bothers Paco that it is happening in the first place: this isn't right, and it isn't what Paco and others were taught is the behavior fitting of a US soldier.

Paco, I am troubled by your decision, and wish there was something else you felt you could do to bring about the change you want to make. You're a friend and I don't want to see you in harm's way. But know that I'm behind you all the way.

Hopefully you won't get put into active duty any time soon. And I wish that wherever it is that you will report to for your reserve duty, you will be able to give your guidance to any new recruits, and to any active troops that have returned from a tour, before they get deployed again.

Actually, I'm hoping you keep blogging, and tell us about your re-integration into military life. You see, I believe these troop problems come from lax and wrong leadership from above (from way way above, like from 1600 Pennsylvannia Ave. Know what I mean?)

As an experienced soldier, you will be able to see if policy or anything has changed from the top, or if the problem is a question of character or any other difference at the level of your fellow troops. I wish you'd let us know, by blogging, what your perceptions are.

Posted by: PJ Cabrera at August 3, 2006 01:47 PM

Paco, I admire what you're doing and hope that you will be safe. While I often don't agree with the policies that lead us to war, it's not the soldiers that make the policies. They need the support and guidance of people like you to help them make the correct moral decisions during chaos. My nephew recently joined the armed forces and you would make a great role model for him.

Posted by: John Lightfoot at August 3, 2006 02:02 PM

I've been contemplating the armed forces recently as well. I'm a pacifist and am quite bothered by the same types of military issues you've mentioned above. My wife would probably divorce me should I decide to join the armed forces. Plus, I recently got a well-paying position writing code... so it would be a difficult decision to make and a difficult decision to convince my family of.

I also suffer from sciatica, and without regular visits to my chiropractor, I often end up walking with a cane. But I think that if I corrected my posture, I could muster my way through a physical.

blah blah blah... it's good to hear what's going on with you.

Posted by: C.J. at August 4, 2006 05:19 PM

I truly appreciate all of the opinions that are being shared in this space. I have not been inducted yet, but the prospects are still looking good.

PJ, I intend to keep this channel opened for updates, thanks for your support. Scott, regardless of being accepted or not, it is still my intention to resume the work I do with the Gtk# Installers for Windows, the Mono Experimental Installers and Visual Studio Integration with Mono.

Dan, your salute gives me a lot of strength. John, it is great to hear from you. I thank your nephew and all of his family for his service. CJ good to hear from you too!

My thanks to Matt Gutierrez, and Garth Dougherty and my Good friend Miguel de Icaza who have also offered their support or expressed their genuine concerned for the well being of my family and I.

After all, I would like to think that I am the sum of the best advice and intellectual influences that you all afford me in addition to the great upbringing that Roger and Mimi Martinez gave me.

Posted by: Paco Martinez at August 5, 2006 10:02 AM

It takes a good man to see a problem such as Iraq,
and throw himself into it. I am not sure why
our troops are committing such atrocities, you
are quite correct that this is unacceptable
behavior for a soldier. Thankfully, most of
our people are the real thing.

One man can make a difference. I hope whatever
sickness that causes these foul acts does not
affect you. God bless you and keep you safe.

Posted by: K. L. Estes at August 15, 2006 10:42 AM

It would help if the US government would respect the Geneva conventions.

I do not think You will make a big difference, but I wish you good luck trying.

Posted by: Henry at August 17, 2006 06:07 AM

Saludos, Paco. Hoy Mimi me alertó a través de Messenger sobre tu decisión. Ante la perplejidad que me ha casusado la noticia, me he lanzado a leer tu justificación, pero me temo que tienes aquí a un hermano a quien no has convencido. Creo que bien conoces dónde residen mis preferencias políticas, pero mis reservas se alimentan adicionalmente ante el aprecio, el cariño y el amor de hermano que siento hacia ti y hacia toda tu familia. Estamos lo suficientemente lejos como para saber que no soy influencia alguna en tu vida. Pero quiero que sepas que aún con nuestras diferencias ideológicas, sigues siendo el ser humano que siempre he querido y que espero que tu decisión produzca resultados positivos. Yo prefiero optar siempre a favor de la paz y es por eso que nunca me ha satisfecho la filosofía política norteamericana a nivel internacional. Al estar ahora tú de por medio lo único que me obligas es a atenuar mis opiniones al respecto y a orar para que tu familia pueda disfrutar siempre y por muchos años de tu presencia. Eres una torre de fuerza dentro de ella, mucho más de lo que te imaginas. El mundo está tan convulsionado y las sorpresas nos persiguen a diario. Oro sinceramente para que entre tantas sorpresas que nos rodean se desate muy pronto una totalmente inesperada: el estallido de una paz duradera.

Posted by: Ramón (Monche) at August 19, 2006 03:38 PM

We all love you Paco..

Posted by: Puhunch at August 24, 2006 11:00 AM

Very good reading. Peace until next time.

Posted by: WaltDe at September 1, 2006 01:45 AM