By Cpl. Kathryn MazosNovember 3, 2019
After 38 years of dedicated service, Col. Judith Martin retired from her military career in a ceremony held at Forbes Field Sept. 7. Her friends and family joined her to celebrate and reflect on her impact on the state of Kansas and the United States Army.
Martin began her service in the Army in 1980 as a personnel management specialist in Stuttgart, Germany. From there she moved to Fort Hood, Texas, where she transitioned to the Texas Army National Guard. Martin commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Kansas Army National Guard's Officer Candidate School and began serving in her many assignments around Kansas.
"I think when you look at some of the highlights of Judith's career, I would say that her command tenure at the 235th Regiment and the things that were able to be accomplished there is a testament to her dedication to duty and professionalism and the outstanding manner in which she lead that institution," said Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, the adjutant general of Kansas. "She's had a tremendous impact on the Kansas National Guard that will be for future generations to inherit."
Military service is nothing unusual to the Martin family. Her husband, Dr. Henry Martin, is a retired colonel and two of her daughters, Kristina and Marion, currently serve in the Army. A long history of military service is also in her heritage. Her own interest in the military began when her sister Becky convinced her to take the Armed Services Vocational and Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test with her. Their plan was to serve together; however, by the time Martin enlisted, her sister changed her mind about serving with her.
"I was bewildered by why she didn't want to join the Army, but chose to marry a Marine," joked Martin, "But she will always be my honorary battle buddy."
In her 38 years of service, Martin served in many positions, including several command positions and deputy chief of staff for personnel at Joint Forces Headquarters, Kansas. It was in Kansas that she made history by not only becoming the first female to command a battalion, but by becoming the first female to command a brigade when she assumed command of the 235th Regiment headquartered in Salina. While she was in command, the regiment won a prestigious Army Training and Doctrine Command citation known as the Learning Institution of Excellence Award.
As her life in the Army comes to a close, Martin said she will always be thankful for the experiences she had, both good and bad.
"I know I'm all the better for the life lessons as a result of serving with men and women of the United States forces and our allies," said Martin. "There's no greater calling than to defend our nation and to defend freedom."
Martin and her husband currently reside in Parkville, Mo., but are relocating to Kansas City. She plans to find a new calling in early 2020 and is contemplating the idea of writing a book with her family on their military service.
Once a Soldier retires from military service, it is said that they will always carry part of the Army with them, making them a Soldier for life. With her daughters and many other family members still serving, she will not say farewell to the Army anytime soon.
"I am a Soldier," said Martin."I am a daughter of a Soldier; I'm the wife of a Soldier, I am the niece of a Soldier; I'm the sister of a Soldier; I'm an aunt of a Soldier; I am a mother of Soldiers; and I am the godmother of a Soldier. Therefore I am a Soldier for life."