On November 7, 1944, I was born at Harkin Hospital, Osceola, Iowa, to Glen and Maurine Poore, Grand River, Iowa. At the time, my father was serving in the Army during WWII in the 387th Infantry Regiment and was unable to come home. I was named Martel by my father who later learned the name means "hammerhead" in French. Some people would say I live up to the name.

When my father was discharged, we moved to Hastings, Nebraska, and later to Beaconsfield, Iowa, for a short period of time. Then we moved to the Bill Campbell farm near Grand River, Iowa, where I attended grade school. I had a wonderful childhood in Grand River. I didn't know who were my relatives, but the entire community seemed like one big family.

My sister, Marleta, was born March 29, 1951 and my youngest sister, Marcia, was born December 8, 1953. It was very difficult for me to leave this community in February 1958, when my family moved to Osceola and built a new house on East McLane. During my high school years, I was employed at the SuperValu store. I graduated from Clarke Community High School in 1963.

I continued my education at the Iowa Barber College in Des Moines, Iowa, and was attending barber college when President Kennedy was assassinated. I was in the first class that was required to attend a nine-month program. Previously the certification required a six-month program. In addition to the education, 1 1/2 years of apprenticeship was required as well as passing the Iowa State Boards. I began my apprenticeship working for Roy Hukill in Osceola who charged $1.25 for a haircut. I worked the summer in Osceola when the manager of the Barber College asked if I was content. I said, "Reasonably so". He then asked, "Are you making any money, son?" I admitted, "Some." The manager proposed that I check out a three-chair shop located in the Drake University area. Haircuts in Des Moines were $4.85. I was hired and worked at this location until I passed the State Boards and obtained the Master Barber certification.

In 1966, Vietnam was just starting to become a major conflict. The military draft was mandatory and enforced. As long as I was a student, I had a deferment; but when I passed the State Boards, I knew I would be drafted. My first preference of service was the U.S. Air Force, but when I talked to their recruiter to enlist, I was told there was a six-week waiting period. I continued working just waiting for the notification to come. So many guys were being drafted. So many guys I knew.

One of my clients was the ROTC (Reserve Officer's Training Corps) Colonel Ginther at Drake University. We called him Colonel "G" and when the Colonel came in for a haircut I told him, "This will probably be the last haircut you are going to get from me as I am about to be drafted." He asked why I didn't try the Air Force and I explained the situation. He then asked who I had talked with and I told him it was a Sergeant Trowbridge. Colonel "G" said, "Give me the phone." I handed him the phone and he made the call saying, "Jerry, this is Colonel 'G.' There is a friend of mine who wants to be in our Air Force and I want you to get him in as soon as you can." He then handed me the phone and I talked again with Sergeant Trowbridge, who told me, "Be here in the morning at 6 A.M." Twenty-four hours later I was on my way to boot camp at Lackland Air Force base in Texas. I guess this is further evidence that it isn't what you know but who you know.

The date was March, 1966. I was 22 years old, the oldest of all the guys who came to Lackland from Iowa which was probably the reason they made me the flight leader. We had a really good flight — a very good record and didn't lose anyone from our Iowa flight, In contrast, there was a group from New England that couldn't find a flight leader. I was called in and the Sergeant said, "I'd like you to volunteer to do something, Airman." I told him I couldn't because my dad told me never to volunteer for anything in the service. He laughed and said, "Okay Airman, I am ordering you to do something." He was ordering me to take over the New England group, our sister flight. I said, "I don't think one fellow could do that." He asked, "Do you think you'd need some help?" I said I probably would, so I was about three weeks into boot camp when they gave me the sister flight, sending me two officers who were biding their time, waiting to get their commissions from the United States Congress.

Mike Henniger, my T.I. (Training Instructor) was a six-foot, three-inch Marine with a purple heart. I left him with a great bunch of guys, most of them small town Iowa farm boys. The bunch

of New England guys I was given to lead had never been away from home and had been overly protected by their parents. I realized more and more how much I valued my Iowa roots. We are so much more open in Iowa. The New England crew wouldn't trust each other and were very quiet and reserved. This group was not too bad when we got to know each other a little later, but until then it was rough. In the service, we had to rely on each other to survive. We got these guys through boot camp, and I  moved on.

I went next to Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois, where I was placed in the jet engine tech school. We

finished our training and were just waiting, waiting for orders. My parents visited me when I was at Rantoul. When we were touring the area, I realized how sore the back of my legs were from where the creases rubbed from marching backwards. We marched backwards facing the men most of the time. It was like marching in cardboard. The creases didn't move. Our Brogan boots we would spit-shine then glo-coat as the final touch. They were like mirrors and you could see yourself in them. We had to keep the Brogans like that all the time.

I went next to Ellsworth SAC (Strategic Air Command), Rapid City, South Dakota. When I was in tech school in 1966, the mother of my roommate, Dennis Rutta, sent him a set of clippers. I clipped his hair, other guys watched and I did three or four the very first day. From then on I cut hair. I thought at Ellsworth I'd get out of that, but the minute I walked in somebody said, "Hey, the barber is here." It was kind of handy. On Friday afternoons the guys would all line up in the hanger and I'd cut their hair. On Saturday afternoons, I'd cut the hair of my Commander and 1st Sergeant and everybody from my dorm. This was an advantage to the brass. My Commander said, "In an afternoon over here, I find out more about what's going on in my squadron than I learn all week in my office." He was a really nice man — very smart, a CPA from Buffalo, New York — what they called a 90-day wonder, not what you would call a hard-core military man.

I went from Ellsworth to Guam as a jet engine mechanic. It was different at Guam. We were flying bombing missions to Vietnam. We launched 50+ planes flying sorties every night. We saw more action over there in six months than we would in ten years in the States. I was the brand new guy on the block but because of that I got kind of a crash course, learning a lot in a harry. At that time, a lot of the guys had served their four years, their time was up and they got out. Consequently, I was moved up pretty quickly, and after six months, I had my own crew.

In six months to a year, I was shipped to Okinawa, which is in the southern part of Japan. The missions were so much shorter than Guam, which was a long flight to Vietnam — the turn­around time here was very short. I spent six months on TDY (temporary duty assignment) in Okinawa — this was late 1967 and early 1968. Okinawa was interesting. We were stationed at Kadena. There was a cave behind our engine shop where the Japanese hid in WWII. The Japanese lost the population of the city of Des Moines (over 110,000) in the Battle of Okinawa. It was a very long battle for them and they fought hard because they felt that Okinawa was part of Japan.

While I was there, some weird things happened. I remember when the Koreans took the ship, USS Pueblo. I was then sent with our planes to the northern part of Japan so the Koreans would know of our presence. They moved us quickly just to let them know we meant business, I guess. Overnight we moved from the southern part of Japan to the northern part. We were only there three or four weeks then sent back to Kadena on Okinawa. We then had a typhoon evac. They wanted to keep the missions flying so they moved us again to fly out of the Philippines at Clark Air Force Base, this time for a week or two, then back to our home base. They moved us around so much we felt we lived out of a duffle bag. After awhile, I realized the beauty of this country and I was stationed there long enough to learn how to talk with the people a little.



The next trip was with fighter planes to Thailand, "Operation Young Tiger." I ended up in U-Tapao (UT) where they commandeered my aircraft for 89 days. I was part of the flight crew. Wherever the plane went, we went. We had different flight crews but we always had the same aircraft. When I was detained here for these 89 days, I was scheduled to work 31 days in a row, 12-hour days, seven days a week. All together, I spent nine months in Thailand.

I met a lot of the same servicemen. It seemed like I knew almost everybody. I was riding a bus on the base when I happened to run into a friend, Chief Master Sgt. Gray from Okinawa. He was the head of our engine shop in Okinawa and they shipped him to Thailand. He told me if I wasn't doing much, come down to his shop, he would keep me busy. In the course of our conversation, he asked how I was doing. I told him okay except for one thing. When he asked what, I said, "Money". I had taken enough money for 30 days and didn't realize I was going to be there for three months. He told me he would help me out and he did. When I did finally return stateside, I had about six paychecks in the mail box. Of course, the paychecks weren't very large but it seemed like a lot. I repaid my debt to Sgt. Gray and was glad I did as I connected with him a few more times overseas.

I returned to Ellsworth in Rapid City and was told I would be serving the remainder of my enlistment stateside. That is when I met Beverly Schmidt from Broadwater, Nebraska. She was attending the National College of Business in Rapid City. We actually met by accident, I did some pursuing, met her parents, she met mine and the rest is history. We were married on August 31, 1969, at Trinity Lutheran Church, in Rapid City, South Dakota. The military orders changed again and seven days after we were married I was ordered to leave for Thailand on a TDY for six months. I didn't understand for a long time why my parents weren't there to see me off this last time. I found out some 20 years later my parents just couldn't stand to see me leave again. The hardest thing I ever did was to leave my wife that day.

By now my attitude was changing. I had now spent three Christmases overseas. I guess it really started when I was in Guam at our big Navel Base. They brought guys for rehab there —men missing arms and legs. Body bags arrived and we had to stack them. It makes you feel pretty damned fortunate. I did my work seven days a week, but to this day I would do it all over again.

If I were younger, I would be over there serving right now. It made us feel like we were at least doing something to help. We were involved in it. We were making a difference. I talked to guys that were pinned down over there daring the Arc Light Operation and they called for air support (B-52 bombers). They told me, "Then you guys came in. We didn't hear you, we didn't see you, but all of a sudden you knocked tem out of the park." Attitudes change in a hurry. We went from the defensive to the offensive in a heartbeat.

After it got so bad, the political aspect was frustrating. I don't ever remember losing a battle, but yet we lost the war because of politics. It wasn't the military that screwed up but the politicians. These are my personal feelings. What was the most frustrating aspect to me was the lack of attention paid to details.

I have an article published by the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) entitled "Take Pride in your Vietnam Service Medal" (which symbolizes "honorable service and great sacrifice"). It recognizes 30 consecutive or 60 nonconsecutive days of temporary duty in Vietnam. An estimated 2.6 million GI's earned their medals on the soil of South Vietnam. Others served offshore in neighboring countries, bringing the total to 3.4 million — some 58,202 Americans were killed; 153,363 seriously wounded.

Life is ironic. There are people we run into that we never expected to see again. As I was getting out, coming from Thailand, walking across the tarmac going into the main operations at the terminal, here is Major Bob Isom (Dr.)! ! That same day another kid came up to me and said, "You know, I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for you. You got me through boot camp." Some of those guys in boot camp couldn't even do push ups. I had grabbed this guy by the seat of the pants and literally threw him over the finish line. I thanked him for the credit he gave me, but it was funny that on my last day of service, I ran into these two guys. It was like fate was throwing us together again four years later.

Overall, I had a good service experience. The Air Force treated me well. I met a lot of good people, some of them became life-long friends I have today -- friends from Nebraska (William Potter), Kentucky (Dale Frazier), Pennsylvania (John Powell). Chances are we wouldn't have met otherwise.

I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on March 7, 1966, and was released on what the Air Force called an "early out." President Nixon took office, the war was winding down in 1970, so they started cutting back, and I was released a week early - February 13, 1970. My Vietnam service was from April 5, 1969 to June 10, 1969, from September 12, 1969 to February 1, 1970. My medical shot record ended up being two books due to all of my traveling. When I left, I never picked up my medals.

Robert Ray was Iowa's governor, so when the issue of the Vietnam bonus came up, I knew I had more than enough time to qualify, but I never pushed it. All I wanted was to get home! They started researching my records and found I was way over the time required; and about 14 years later, I received a manila envelope from the military. They sent my Good Conduct Medal, Vietnam Medal, and another one or two. There was a letter that went with it saying, "Sorry for the inconvenience." There were 14 pages of documents regarding my enlistment orders which wasn't aware of until the state pursued it.

Beverly and I left Rapid City on February 13, 1970 and moved to Des Moines. About a month after I returned, I opened Marty's Barber Shop. I have been at the shop over 39 years.

Beverly currently works for John Deere as a senior processing specialist. Beverly and I have three children: Shawntel Marie, born December 27, 1970 — Shawntel is a registered nurse currently working in the ED at Broadlawns; Trenton Ames, born November 14, 1978 — Trenton is a plant operator currently working at the Des Moines Water Works; Alisha Jean, born September 29, 1980 — Alisha is an international dispute resolution work director currently working at Wells Fargo. At present, we have five grandchildren, SilVia Gean Poore; Marshall Ames Poore, Ava Marie Poore, Caden John Forrest McClelland and Hunter John Edward McClelland. Beverly and I plan to return to Rapid City for our 40th Anniversary. We hope to meet members of our wedding party and tour Ellsworth Air Force Base reflecting on past memories and realizing how grateful and fortunate we are today.

In summary of my service years starting in 1966, I reflect back to my first six-month TDY to Guam, an island in the Pacific. We were named the "Black Barons" as we painted the bomber planes dark colors to camouflage them when flying. My second six-month TDY was to Kadena on Okinawa. This operation was involved in flying more than 1500 sorties in South Vietnam. My next TDY was for one month to U-Tapao Thailand initially but my aircraft was commandeered and I stayed 89 days. This was the Young Tiger Operation. We refueled fighter planes across the Pacific going to Vietnam and in combat missions. My last TDY was for six months again to U-Tapao Thailand. The Arc Light Operation was a six-month duration stay with B-52 bombing missions. The B-52's were long range bombers and the KC-135's were tankers used for in-flight refueling. I was with the 28th Bomb Wing (FMS) from Ellsworth Air Force Base (SAC) which had a double wing — B-52's wing, KC-135's wing. The longevity of these military aircrafts says a lot about Eisenhower's knowledge and expertise. The upgrades of these planes are still flying today, some 50 years later. It seemed wherever I was, we were flying missions all the time. We flew 50+ planes every night and in my four years of service, we only lost one plane at Ellsworth.

The following is the Strategy and Tactics of our US Air Power. "The first B-52 air strikes in South Vietnam began on June 18, 1965, conducted by the 4133rd Bombardment Wing based on Guam. The 4258th Strategic Wing (later the 307th Strategic Wing) began bombing missions from its base at U-Tapao, Thailand in April 1967. A third unit, the 4242nd Strategic Wing based at Kadena on Okinawa, was added in February 1968. US Strategic Air Command (SAC) operations over Vietnam ended on January 23, 1973, over Laos on April 17, 1973, and over Cambodia on August 15, 1973. From June 1965, to August 1973, SAC flew a total of 126,615 B-52 sorties: 55 percent were against targets in South Vietnam; 27 percent against targets in Laos; 12 percent against targets in Cambodia; and 6 percent against targets in North Vietnam. In all, 29 B-52's were lost, only 17 to enemy action." There is merit in that record.


God Bless the USA


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Last Revised June 13, 2015