From Black Card to One Star

by Samantha Perez ’20, Squadron 5

On November 9, 2018, it was a rainy, windy, overcast day.  While the Corps’ Run was cancelled, nothing could put a damper on the days set before Brig Gen Michael E. Martin (C/O ’92), Director of Air Force Resilience. As a career Special Tactics Officer (STO), Brig Gen Martin, made a living out of dealing with conflict and staring adversity, as well as our enemies, in the face like a stone cold tiger ready to lash out.  Perhaps such precocious behavior stem from his days on the quad leading his outfit, “Savage Six”. Perhaps they stem even further to dark times as a “black card” fish in “Hustlin One.” Brig Gen Martin has led Special Operations Forces during operations Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn. He has earned the Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit, and the Defense Superior Service Medal.      

Brig Gen Martin arrived in College Station late Thursday evening.  He met eight fish at Duncan Dining Hall for breakfast Friday morning, and he met 17 upperclassmen at The University Club, Rudder Tower, for lunch.  During meals, he asked cadets about the challenges they experience on a daily basis in today’s Corps and relayed experiences of his own. He recalled how his upperclassmen would make him run to the “pig farm” and PT there (you can imagine the stench).  He also shared the story of his initial academic struggles; he and his two roommates posted below a 2.0 during the fall semester of their fish year. Hustlin One’s academic officer made the trio study together with the door closed and placed a black card on it so the pissheads knew not to mess with them.  The cadets laughed at Brig Gen Martin’s jokes and appreciated his candor.

Cadets gathered in Rudder Theater later that afternoon to hear Brig Gen Martin speak. Following his very brief introduction, Brig Gen Martin remarked of his time at Texas A&M and his experiences while serving in the Air Force. He then surprised twelve AFROTC cadets by notifying them they earned Air Force Scholarships.  Following the scholarship notifications, he opened up the floor for cadets to ask questions. He did not want hold a briefing; he wanted to have a conversation. No slides, no fancy microphones, no canned Q&A. Following the conclusion of the conversation at Rudder Theater, Brig Gen Martin took photos with the scholarship winners.  Cadet Jaimie Colon Borrero was overwhelmed when she discovered she earned the scholarship; her reaction left a lasting impression on Brig Gen Martin. Cadet Colon Borrero asked Brig Gen Martin if he would do her the honor of notifying her parents. Brig Gen Martin did not forget the following morning. Amidst fulfilling his obligation to serve as the reviewing official for the Veteran’s Day parade, he held true to his word and met Cadet Colon Borrero’s parents in front of Buzbee Leadership Learning Center to break the great news.  From black card to one star, Brig Gen Martin learned lessons, and built relationships, at Texas A&M that have helped propel him to where he is today and will continue to propel him throughout the rest of his life. Gig ‘Em!