Robins investigator earns Bronze Star Medal

  • Published
  • By Wayne Crenshaw
  • 78 ABW/PA
One investigator in the 78th Security Forces has been stationed here for five years, but many members of his own unit have never met him. 

That's because for most of the time Tech. Sgt. Ruben Martinez has been here, he has been deployed. He is a veteran of three tours in Iraq and one in Kyrgyztan. On Friday, he was awarded a Bronze Star for his service in Iraq from September 2008 to September 2009. 

As Col. Carl Buhler, commander of the 78th Air Base Wing, pinned the medal on him, he leaned forward and whispered something to Martinez that was inaudible to the 78th Security Forces members witnessing the event. 

But afterwards Col. Buhler told them exactly what he said. 

"I told him he just earned something that is going to be on his tombstone when he passes away from this world," Buhler said. "It's a very rare day when you can do something in the service of your nation, and earn a medal, of that level of achievement." 

Martinez served as a police transition team chief in the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron. 

"Sergeant Martinez's outstanding leadership and technical knowledge as a police transition team chief contributed significantly to the unit's success in developing a more competent and legitimate police force for the Iraqi people," Maj. Russell Stilling, 78th SFS commander. 

Acting on a tip, Martinez led his squad, including Iraqi police officers, to the discovery of a weapons cache. Under his guidance the Iraqi police officers also conducted proactive patrolling for weapons caches in their area and located several other cache sites. 

He led his squad in providing security for a short-notice visit by President Bush to sign the security agreement. He was also critical to the security of 10 election sites, and mentored Iraqi officers through a double-homicide investigation. 

The sergeant said he has seen progress in Iraq from his first tour, especially over the past year. 

"I realized we are starting to turn it over to them," he said. "It's a slow process but they are learning."