Martinez Back From Persian Gulf Deployment

It was a welcome home fit for a hero Tuesday as the community lined the corridor at the Santa Maria Public Airport to welcome home Petty Officer 3rd Class Vincent Martinez after a nine-month naval deployment to the Persian Gulf.

“I love being here. It feels great being home,” Martinez said after greeting friends and family.

The 2009 Nipomo High School graduate was deployed on the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, where he is an aviation boatswain’s mate.

During his deployment, he and his crew were part of the mission that made the first strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.  “We were the first ones to respond to the ISIS attacks, so I feel pretty accomplished about that,” he said.  Because of that experience, it was even more special for mom Tricia Martinez that her son was home.

“I’m so excited that he’s able to come home for Christmas and especially that he came home safe,” she said.  His younger brother, Alex, said he and his family had the opportunity to go to Virginia and see his brother’s ship arrive at port just after Thanksgiving.  “So that was really cool, but to get him home for Christmas break is just like the best feeling,” he said.

His dad, Ruben, said Martinez didn’t always have military aspirations, having worked at Little Jocko’s in Nipomo and The Swiss Restaurant and Bar in Santa Maria, but now he loves being in the Navy and loves what he does.  “I’m so proud of him, I can’t believe it,” Ruben said. “He’s made me so happy. He left here unsure, and he’s extremely happy with the choice he made.”

Adam Gutierrez, childhood friend of Martinez, waited in the airport with balloons and snacks for him. He said he was glad to have his friend back for a few weeks.  “He’s an all-out, outgoing guy,” Gutierrez said. “I’ve known him since the third grade, and we grew up together, and he’s been closest to me since then.”

Martinez will be home for a week and a half to celebrate the holidays before heading out again. He said he’s looking forward to relaxation, hanging out with friends and family and having some good home-cooked meals.

12-17-14  Santa Maria Times,  Santa Maria Times   Shelly Cone Contributing Writer