James Henry Martin

James Henry Martin Jr was born 17-MAR 1970 in Collinsville, Illinois.  His parents were James Henry Martin Sr (1926–1998) and his mother was Karen Lee Pentecost Martin (1941-2014). He had one brother Christopher Montel Martin (1961-1981).  James attended Collinsville High School graduating in 1988.

James enlisted in the Army on 12-MAY 1992.  Later that year, he married Lori Grass Martin on 10-OCT 1992, in his hometown.

James’ mother Karen said, “He thought about it for many years.  His father, James H. Martin Sr. served in the Korean War and his grandfather (Robert B Pentecost of E. St. Louis), and an uncle died in service in World War II.”   She continued, “I didn’t want him to go in, but I wasn’t surprised.  Our family has paid more than its share.”  Of her only son, Karen Martin says simply: “He was perfect.”

James was assigned to A Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry). Radio operator with the unit. Members of the company, part of the Quick Reaction Force in Somalia, had been sent to rescue Rangers exchanging fire with Somalis in the streets of Mogadishu on October 3rd. James Martin was killed when the company’s convoy was ambushed.

James and Lori were newlyweds.  When Lori was asked about her husband’s final mission and the dangers he faced in Somalia, Lori said, “If it meant saving someone’s life, he would do it. That’s the kind of person he was.”

James Henry Martin died on 4-OCT 1993, in in Mogadishu, Banaadir, Somalia.  He was 23.  He is buried in Lakeview Memorial Gardens in Fairview Heights, Illinois

PFC James H. Martin, Jr. was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart.

The other soldiers killed that day:

1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta

  • MSG Gary Ivan Gordon, Medal of Honor, Purple Heart
  • SFC Randy Shughart, Medal of Honor, Purple Heart
  • SSG Daniel Darrell Busch, Silver Star, Purple Heart
  • SFC Earl Robert Fillmore, Jr. Silver Star, Purple Heart
  • MSG Timothy Lynn Martin, Silver Star, Purple Heart
  • SFC Matthew Loren Rierson, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment

  • CPL James E. Smith, Bronze Star w/Valor Device & Oak leaf cluster,

Purple Heart

  • SPC James M. Cavaco, Bronze Star with Valor Device, Purple Heart
  • SGT James Casey Joyce, Bronze Star w/Valor Device, Purple Heart
  • CPL Richard W. Kowalewski, Jr. Bronze Star w/Valor Device, Purple Heart
  • SGT Dominick M. Pilla, Bronze Star w/Valor Device, Purple Heart
  • SGT Lorenzo M. Ruiz, Bronze Star w/Valor Device, Purple Heart

Pilots and Crew of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment

  • SSG William David Cleveland, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Air Medal w/Valor Device, Purple Heart
  • SSG Thomas J. Field, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Air Medal w/Valor Device, Purple Heart
  • CW4 Raymond Alex Frank, Silver Star, Air Medal w/Valor Device, Purple Heart
  • CW3 Clifton P. Wolcott, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Air Medal w/ Valor Device, Purple Heart
  • CW3 Donovan Lee Briley, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Air Medal w/ Valor Device, Purple Heart

Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division

  • SGT Cornell Lemont Houston, Sr. Bronze Star w/Valor Device, de Fleury Medal, Purple Heart
  • PFC James Henry Martin, Jr. Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Please contact the St. Charles County Veterans Museum Oral History project at sccvetsmuseum@gmail.com or call 636-294-2657 for more information and lets’ talk. We want to hear from you because we know…Every Veteran has a story.