Soldier Pushes Self, Inspires Others
(June 22, 2009)
Army Sgts. Jason Bedoya,
left, and Gabrielle Martinez work out on the
pull-up bar, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., June 17,
2009 – When the Army became her vehicle seven years ago,
Sgt. Gabrielle M. Martinez got behind the wheel, fastened
her seat belt and ignited the engine. Then she put her foot
on the gas.
She didn't just come along for the ride.
Now assigned as an information systems analyst and operator
with a 20th Support Command weapons-of-mass-destruction
coordination element, Martinez makes an impact on nearly
everyone she meets.
"She doesn't shy away from challenges," said Army 1st
Sgt. Tamiko Bogad, her former unit first sergeant. "She meets
Martinez is matter-of-fact about her duties: “Whatever needs
to be done,” she said. She exhibits more enthusiasm for her
Since arriving in October, Martinez has helped to fine-tune
the unit's physical fitness program and assumed leadership
of the unit color guard. During her limited free time, she
earned a college degree.
By many accounts, she is a role model for other soldiers.
"She is an example of what the Army can provide to our young
citizens," Bogad said. "She realizes all the opportunities
the Army has to offer and allows the Army to challenge her
and realize the potential within."
Martinez derives great pleasure from helping Army Sgt. Jason
Bedoya to run the unit PT program.
"Motivating others to achieve their fitness goals and
improve their health and overall well-being is rewarding,"
Martinez said. "To see other soldiers succeed -- especially
when they thought they wouldn't, or couldn't, or have given
up and gotten discouraged -- that's very rewarding.
"It's good to give back especially in an area where I have
natural ability," she added, emphasizing that Bedoya leads
the PT program.
"It's his program," she said. "My support provides an even
return for having his support on the color guard."
"She keeps everybody going," Bedoya said. "She's outgoing.
She makes it fun, always cracking jokes. She challenges me
as well, always throwing out new ideas, new ways we can do
things, new exercises. And she really helps a lot of our
Martinez's endeavor into drill and ceremony, calling cadence
for the color guard, came at the recommendation of her
supervisor, Army Master Sgt. Charesse Blood.
"The first sergeant was asking for volunteers, and Master
Sergeant Blood said it would probably be a good idea for me.
She said she had similar responsibilities when she was
coming up and said it's a great learning experience and also
a challenge. She inspired me, and I volunteered," Martinez
"The challenging part is keeping everyone motivated to
perform and coordinating with the community for rehearsals,"
she said. "I'm currently searching for more volunteers. I've
also been looking for incentives to make it lucrative for
high quality volunteers because they are very much needed.
But the people we have are very dedicated."
Honor and tradition are being preserved under Martinez's
charge, Bogad said. "She effortlessly lives and breathes our
Army Values and the Noncommissioned Officer Creed," he
"I have to juggle all these things carefully so I don't miss
training and still provide leadership to the color guard and
be there for the PT program," Martinez said. "There's a lot
of juggling of responsibilities as an NCO."
Martinez grew up in Pottstown, Pa., about a two-hour drive
north of here.
"My father is still there,” she said. “I have 15 brothers
and sisters; I'm in the middle."
The lessons she learned growing up in a large family are
"I always felt like I was a member of a team," she said,
smiling at the memory. Her siblings range in age from 4 to
43. "It's hard to keep a relationship with a sister who is
40 years old. I'm 27. She was ready to move out of the house
by the time I came along."
Martinez said her father coordinates an annual family
"Whoever shows up shows up," she said. "We never get
everybody there together at once."
None of her brothers or sisters served in the military.
"I'm the first in my family to graduate from college," she
added, proud of achieving an academic goal. She graduated in
May from American Military University, earning a bachelor's
degree - with honors -- in information technology.
"My mom was there for my graduation," she added,
re-emphasizing the importance she attaches to family ties.
"I'd like to complete my master's program in an
in-your-face, traditional classroom," she continued, having
earned her bachelor's degree online. "I'm taking a break now
and identifying future endeavors."
It's been seven years since Martinez visited a Miami
recruiting center. At that time she was working as a
certified nurse's assistant, going to school and trying to
become a model -- and things weren't working out.
So, she raised her hand.
Martinez has since traveled around the world. After
completing basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and
advanced individual training at Fort Gordon, Ga., she was
assigned to Mannheim, Germany, for two years, which included
a short tour to Kuwait with the 7th Signal Brigade.
She took a follow-on overseas assignment to South Korea for
13 months, and then re-enlisted for retraining in her
current job specialty. She then ramped up at the National
Training Center and deployed to Iraq for 15 months with the
3rd Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
"It's worked out for me. I've developed a lot of pride in
what I do. I'm glad I did it, and I now plan to be a career
soldier," Martinez said, thumbing the Officer Candidate
School packet she was almost ready to submit.
"Airborne school has to come in there somewhere," she added,
underscoring her desire to remain a “Hooah!” soldier.
"I believe in myself," she explained. "As I continue to
create and explore opportunities, I know things will work
Her professional development is clearly evident to others.
"She has been diligent about requesting increased
responsibility, and has consistently performed above and
beyond her grade," Blood said. "She's focused on
accomplishment of the mission and the welfare of her
Her former first sergeant agreed. "As senior NCOs, we
provide opportunities for our soldiers to succeed," Bogad
said. "It is our duty to help them realize their own
potential, which is usually more than they thought they had.
Sergeant Martinez inspires others through her example. She
sets the standard for excellence. She achieves all you put
before her, and all she puts her mind to."
"She's definitely got her mind in the right place," added
Bedoya, a young and newly promoted NCO. "She can do so much
more. I look at her and think, 'That's someone I could
Martinez takes the praise in stride. "I just want to
positively influence people," she said. "I feel like I owe
that to soldiers, my peers and anybody I can motivate to go
to school, to work on their PT, or just try a little harder
in whatever situation they're in. I feel like I owe that to
people because leaders have given that to me so freely.
"Besides,” she added, “who am I not to share?"
photo by Roger Teel
20th Support Command
American Forces Press Service
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