Ranger Martin O. Tomlin was born 1 January 1948 in Gadsden, Alabama. He entered military service in 1969 and graduated from Ranger Class 9-70. Shortly after completing Ranger School, Martin transferred to Vietnam and was assigned to D Troop 2/17th Air Cavalry of the 101st Airborne Division.
In July 1970, shortly after my arrival in Vietnam, I met SSG Martin O. Tomlin for the first time, as he became my platoon sergeant of 3rd Platoon, D Troop 2/17th Cav. I immediately liked what I saw in him and respected the fact he was a Ranger.
From July 1970 until he departed Vietnam in early 1971, SSG Tomlin was my right arm and trusted platoon sergeant. Together we conducted over 50 combat missions deep into hostile enemy territory often to rescue helicopter pilots who had been shot down or extract Ranger Teams in contact with a larger enemy force.
He was always a model Non Commissioned Officer. He set high standards and was fearless in combat. While intolerant of excuses, he always took great care of our soldiers and lead by example.
I recall a time when we were alerted for a four-hour mission in the Roung Roung Valley in Northern I Corps. This was supposed to be a quick in and out mission. We rappelled in from hovering helicopters. However, the weather changed abruptly and we became stranded deep in enemy territory and well outside the range of artillery support. During this time, we were constantly rained on and probed continually by the enemy. We had only one ration each to survive on. We were in a grim situation. After a few miserable days, I remember SSG Tomlin saying, "Hell, this ain't as tough as Ranger School. No RI's are yelling at us." Six days later we finally got out, thanks to some heroic efforts. But I reflect back on that moment. That is what Ranger training is all about; preparing soldiers to stand up under the worst possible combat conditions.
Ranger Martin O. Tomlin epitomized the Ranger Creed. He loved this Camp and traveled here from Oklahoma last October to attend a Mountain Ranger Association meeting. It was a high point for me to see him again. Unfortunately, he passed away suddenly on 7 May 2009 at his home in Norman, Oklahoma. He is survived by his wife, Christina, stepson Ethan, stepdaughter Elise and his brother Donald Tomlin.
SSG Martin O. Tomlin earned numerous awards during his service to include the Bronze Star with "V" device, Air Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, MAC-V Recondo Brand #3017, parachutist badge and the coveted Ranger Tab. He is missed by all who knew him.