This is tribute to Howard Martell who served a higher calling one to country and he unselflessly gave 20 years so there could be a better future!
1. The boy next door… the best of the Great Republic. You sleep easy through the night because of him… and millions like him. A Tribute!
Author’s program note. When was the last time you considered the state of our Great Republic and did anything — anything at all — to sustain and improve it?
If you cannot immediately say and cannot recall what you did, if you have nothing but rancorous thoughts and feelings about our continuing great experiment in the governance and well being of mankind, then stop and focus your full, undivided attention on this article and its subject: Howard
Hector Martell, Jr. For this day, like every other day over the past 20 years, Howard Martell has served us… you, me, the Great Republic, all of us able to live life as we wish because of him and his colleagues in every great service of our great nation.
To set the stage for this story, to provide the essential sound, I have selected music from one of the greatest public affairs programs ever — “Victory at Sea.” It is a documentary television series about naval warfare during World War II that was originally broadcast by NBC in 1952-1953. The stirring
music was composed by Richard Rodgers and Robert Russell Bennett. Rodgers, well known for a string of iconic Broadway musicals, contributed 13 “themes”; short piano compositions a minute or
two in length. Bennett did the scoring, transforming Rodger’s themes into a variety of moods, all designed to touch your heart and fire your imagination. The result was pure magic.
Find out for yourself. Go now to any search engine. Listen to a few of the “themes” to get you started. I like “Hard Work and Horseplay”, “Theme of the Fast Carriers” and, of course, “The Song of the High Seas.” However, to honor Howard Martell, listen to “Guadalcanal March.” It is the
essence of what a grand march should be… the kind of march Howard has so well earned… I’m playing it now as I write.
New London, Connecticut is a seaport city and a port of entry on the northeast coast of the United States. It is located at the mouth of the Thames River which locals demand you pronounce to rhyme
with “James”, unlike the great river of London, England which rhymes with ‘hems”. The folks in New London insist upon their rendering; after all, they were part of the victorious Revolution that tossed the Brits out — and their eccentric pronunciations. As you hear this said, you begin to grasp
the fact that New London is not merely a place of picturesque aspects; just what meets the eye.
Rather, it is a place where young boys glimpse the great sea at hand, so beckoning, and dream dreams of faraway places and what life can be.
Howie Martell was such a boy.
He was born June 27,1973, attended local schools, graduating from Griswold High School. People remember him, if they remember him at all, as shy, uncertain; a boy who would smile at you… but only after you had smiled at him. Teachers with many students to instruct would remember him
indistinctly and call him “average.” But such an appraisal would have been incomplete, inaccurate, failing to capture his essence, for this boy was a dreamer of great dreams… and New London, for centuries the home port of audacious mariners, offered him the means to live them, mere dreams no
On August 10, 1992, just 19, he left the comfort of family, friends, the only place he had ever known, placing his future in the hands of strangers who would, in due course and short order,
become comrades, a word civilians may know but so seldom understand. And so Howard Martell entered the service of the Great Republic, discovering a destination more important than any of the
48 countries he came to visit. He found himself… and became a man.
From this point, his resume tells the story… it is all USN, the resume of a man who studied hard, knew his business — the Great Republic’s business — and was esteemed by superiors who always found him ready to assist, eager to learn, and above all trustworthy and responsible.
In the process a man was shaped who was the complete Navy professional, respected by all, able to be, as events required, a man who could lead, a man who would be loyal, a man you wanted on your team, because he (and this touches the heart of this man) always stood for the success of his team,
never just his own. As people came to know him, they saw this… and admired the man who put collective success above mere personal gain. Thus the Navy took Howard Martell, once a shy boy no one could quite remember, to its heart. He received one deserved honor after another… Navy Good Conduct Medal… six times… Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal… four times… Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal… Iraq Campaign Medal… two times. And most telling of all a plaque from his fellow First Class Petty Officers who thereby saluted one of their own. He was indeed the complete Navy man… a man who twenty years before had made the right decision.
The need for service in the age of selfishness.
It is a truism that older citizens will engage in endless rodomontades which detail the innumerable outrages perpetrated by the young against society. How they are ill-educated, lazy, unkempt,
unclean of body and language. How they cannot be depended upon… how they flout all established
behavior, video game obsessed wastrels who cannot be trusted and will never amount to a hill of
beans. Thus goes the jeremiad; you can catch a whiff of it whenever two adults of fifty or so gather.
From the very start of the first civilization each man steps into this argument in his maturity, as
easily as he dons casual clothes. It is one of the perqs of aging, and no senior citizen will ever give
up this sacred right to pontificate. I shall not give it up either and so I give you some pungent
thoughts on the matter of service, a concept that alternates between being an afterthought and the salvation of the nation. What we require is calm reflection and sensible policies on the matter. And so I choose to use my words not to grumble but to exhort… to touch a shy boy or girl reading this
article and help them both select the responsible path, the path trod by Howard Martell and generations of young people before… the path of service… and the abiding need of the Great Republic for… you!
Young friend, our way of governance, our core beliefs, the very future of our noble enterprise is not only challenged, but at risk. You have a choice — mindless dissipation and decay, or personal development and redemption through the bestowal of your time, mind and heart to the pressing
affairs of the Great Republic. In short, you can ignobly remain part of the problem, or become infinitely more valuable as part of the solution.
There is nothing neutral about this decision. It is of the greatest possible consequence and can only be made by you. A great idea, the greatest notion of statecraft ever propounded, the Great Republic itself awaits your verdict, hopeful, expectant, confident. Howie Martell made the right choice. Will
… And now it is time to end Howard’s military career with all the pomp and circumstance he has earned… and which a grateful Navy can provide.
Stand forward Petty Officer First Class Howard Hector Martell, Jr.. For your service, your nation, your friends, family and comrades mean to honor you before the world in due recognition for what you have so abundantly given… above all the gift of loyalty and fidelity to a great institution so needed by this great nation.
And so through each of the hallowed retirement traditions all Naval personnel know so well… until this event, at once festive and solemn, reaches the Shadow Box. This is a symbol of a sailor’s many
career accomplishments and recognitions. Shadow boxes contain a U.S. flag folded into a triangle, ribbons and medals, insignia and revered devices. They act as a reminder of ranks earned by the retiree and the awards received. It is a mark of the highest honor and cherished accordingly. Yours,
Howard, comes complete with the unqualified gratitude of the nation you have served so well… none better… and the sincere thanks of us all. May God grant you sunshine and a fair wind to your many ports of call still to come.
End this article by returning to any search engine and playing the “Victory at Sea” theme. It remains
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