About Robert Martin

I was born in Savannah, GA in March of 1944. My father, having recently completed medical school, was serving in the Pacific Theater as a Major in U.S. Army Medical Corps. I was almost three years old before he came home and we moved from Savannah. He never completely left the war behind. It's demons plagued him for the rest of his life. I became a pharmacist and married a fellow pharmacist immediately after graduation in 1967. In 1968, my pregnant wife and I moved to Savannah to work as pharmacists in the same hospital. Within three months of arriving in Savannah I was drafted into the U.S. Army and inducted in January of 1969 at Fort Jackson, SC. I was not the typical draftee --  yet to turn 20 years old, minimally educated, and from a poor family. I celebrated my 25th birthday while in Basic Combat Training at Fort Leonard Wood, MO. I was the second oldest in my training company and older than most of the training NCOs and officers.

If I had simply gone with the flow I would probably have been assigned to a military hospital and served my time as a pharmacist. However, I thought that I had to be an officer and listened to a recruiter who promised me a 100-day delayed entry (to give me time to move my family back home) if I would signup for Officer Candidate School (OCS). I was required to choose from the Combat Engineers, Field Artillery, or Infantry. I chose Field Artillery with the understanding that once I received my commission I would be able to obtain a branch transfer to the Medical Corps and work as a pharmacy officer.

To make a long story a little shorter, the recruiter lied. The paper that I signed thinking it was a contract turned out to only be an expression of my preference. After Basic Combat Training, while in Advanced Individual Training as an artillery Fire Direction Specialist, I received orders to report to Fort Benning, GA for Infantry OCS. I declined the invitation and was sent to Vietnam as a Private. After being assigned to an artillery battalion with the 101st Airborne Division about 37 miles south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). After a couple of harrowing experiences I reported to the battalion personnel officer who immediately informed me that they already had too many people with my Fire Direction training. When asked, "What else can you do?", I responded, "I'm a pharmacist," to which he immediately said, "We don't need a pharmacist in an artillery battalion!", like it was my fault for being there. Then I could see the light bulb come on above his head as he snapped his fingers, pointed at me, and excitedly said, "YOU CAN TYPE, CAN'T YOU!" It was a comedy of errors from that point on. After 404 days in Vietnam I returned home and resumed my life as a pharmacist, husband, and father. Although, like my father, Vietnam has never completely left me. I like to say that the only baggage I brought home from there was in my head. With the aid of psychiatric help and antidepressants, I managed to enjoy a successful career as a pharmacist. I am still married to the same woman. And I am now retired.

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