News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

November 22, 2012

Home for the Holidays

Terre Haute North grad back with family after four tours in Iraq with U.S. Army

TERRE HAUTE — For 11 years, Staff Sgt. Eric Martin served his country, with four tours of duty in Iraq.

He was there when the U.S invaded Iraq, and his job as a U.S. Army combat engineer called for him to help clear the route, including two mine fields.

He’s also looked for IEDs [improvised explosive device]. “We were the guys out there going five miles an hour down the road in front of everybody, trying to make sure we’d find the IEDs” so others didn’t get hit.  

In 2011, “I was part of the last trip out,” he said. He flew a flag from his RG 33 (mine resistant ambush-protected vehicle), and he gave the flag to his grandfather last Christmas.

But today, Martin has completed his military career and he is celebrating Thanksgiving in Terre Haute with his family, including his mom, Melanie Van Winkle, and grandfather, Ray Harney.

“I don’t even remember the last time I had Thanksgiving with everybody,” said the 30-year-old in an interview at his mom’s home, where he will live until he figures out his next step, either college or a civilian contract job that takes him to … Afghanistan.

It’s a good-paying job, he said.

The family will gather at his aunt’s house in North Terre Haute. Martin also is looking forward to seeing his 5-year-old daughter, Kamryn, who lives in Wisconsin; he’ll see her next month.

Van Winkle is “ecstatic” to have her son home. “He has served our country well,” she said. Martin is a 2001 graduate of Terre Haute North Vigo High School and left for basic training in October of that year.

Until he decides his future sometime after Jan. 1, he’ll be helping his mom and stepdad with work on their house and his grandfather with work on his home.

Also, “Everybody in the family has something they need done on their car,” Martin said. “I’m kind of a jack-of-all trades when it comes to a lot of things.”

Before he joined the army, Martin “was a very laid back, quiet kid,” his mom said. “He didn’t really cause me too much trouble — just basic teenage stuff. I never expected him to join” the military.

When he returned after his first tour in Iraq, she noticed a change. “He went in as a boy and came out as a man,” she said.

For his first two tours, she would constantly watch television news to learn what was happening in Iraq. “I made myself sick from watching TV all the time” and worrying about him, she said. She discourages others with loved ones serving in war zones from doing the same and constantly monitoring the television news.

While he joined the military right after 9/11, Martin said that was not what caused him to join. “One of my buddies [Nick Caldero] wanted to join the army,” Martin said.

Caldero asked his friends if they wanted to join, also. “I said okay,” Martin recalls.

He believes he made the right decision. “It’s supported me the last 11 years,” he said.

While the job he did was often dangerous, it’s not something he dwelled on. “I just never really thought about the fact this is what I’m doing right now and at any given time something could happen. I think that was due to a lot of the training we did,” he said. “I didn’t have to think about it. It was second nature.”

He did experience culture shock when he first arrived in Iraq, and Iraqis’ attitudes toward Americans “went up and down a lot,” he said. Initially, after the fall of Saddam Hussein, “It was instant joy.”

Other times, “They wanted us gone.” Also, the poor behavior of a few soldiers would “ruin it for the others,” Martin said.

Whether the United States accomplished what it set out to do remains to be determined, he said. While Iraqis are able to make choices now, “I guess we’ll see in time how their own government runs things,” he said.

Today, Martin and his family will celebrate Thanksgiving and his safe return home.

A sign in front of his mother’s home reads, “Welcome Home SSgt Martin.” It features artwork on a white sheet, including a yellow ribbon, a military tank, hearts and a flag.

Thanksgiving “was the most missed holiday for me,” Martin said. “So it’s going to be good.”

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@

tribstar.com.


 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
  • Vigo County Jail Log: July 10, 2014

    The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Wednesday and Thursday, based on jail records.

    July 10, 2014

  • Ethics panel considers $5K fine against Bennett

    Indiana’s State Ethics Commission will decide whether to accept a proposed settlement with former state schools Superintendent Tony Bennett that fines him $5,000 for using state resources for his 2012 campaign.

    July 10, 2014

  • Group: 5,000 same-sex marriages in Illinois

    A survey indicates thousands of same-sex couples are marrying in Illinois.

    July 10, 2014

  • Study: Hunting restores forests in state parks

    A study by a Purdue University research team has found that regulated deer hunts in Indiana state parks have helped restore forests damaged by too many white-tailed deer.

    July 10, 2014

  • MET070914 house exterior.jpg Historic Ohio Boulevard house inspired by 1948 Cary Grant movie

    Spurred in 1948 by a newly released movie staring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, coupled with a growing post-World War II housing market, General Electric partnered with Hollywood’s RKO Studios to build “dream homes” throughout the country.

    July 9, 2014 4 Photos 1 Story

  • Detour ahead

    A panel of public and private officials is calling for $10 billion in projects to upgrade Indiana’s aging roads and bridges, but its members concede there’s no money to pay for it all.

    July 9, 2014

  • MET070814 barrels.jpg MARK BENNETT: Making road work a barrel of fun for drivers

    We’re lucky orange barrels can’t talk.

    July 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • City Council to take up city finances tonight

    The Terre Haute City Council will have a chance in a special meeting tonight to delve deeply into the city’s financial health. However, council members are being asked to avoid raising the most controversial subject of recent weeks: The city’s use of Redevelopment Commission tax increment finance (TIF) money.

    July 9, 2014

  • Bennett accepts $5,000 fine in ethics settlement

    Former Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett has agreed to pay $5,000 as part of a settlement with Indiana’s ethics watchdog in which he admits to using state resources for campaign work but is cleared of formal ethics violations in the grade-change scandal that cost him his job as Florida’s schools chief last year.

    July 9, 2014

  • Vermillion Jail trusties face new charges

    Two former inmate trusties at the Vermillion County Jail face new criminal charges after a recently discovered security breach at the jail.

    July 9, 2014

  • Lawrence police acquire armored military vehicle

    A central Indiana city has acquired an armored military vehicle for use in highly dangerous situations.

    July 9, 2014

  • Free carwash for law enforcement

    Mike’s Carwash locations in Central Indiana, including Terre Haute, will honor the sacrifice of IMPD Officer Perry Renn and thank all those who serve and protect our communities with a free carwash for police and emergency personnel today and Friday.

    July 9, 2014

  • Indiana agencies told to ignore gay marriages

    Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s office is telling state agencies act as if no gay marriages had been performed during three days following a federal court order.

    July 9, 2014

  • State reports West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes

    INDIANAPOLIS — State health officials confirmed the first signs of West Nile virus activity in Indiana for 2014. Mosquitoes in Marshall and Pike counties have tested positive for West Nile virus. There have been no reported cases of West Nile virus in humans in the state this year.

    July 9, 2014

  • Indiana education board faces contentious meeting

    Indiana’s State Board of Education is gearing up for another showdown between Democratic schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz and Republican Gov. Mike Pence’s appointees and staff.
    The board is set to consider a pair of resolutions dealing with control of the board during a meeting Wednesday.

    July 9, 2014

  • Vigo County Jail Log: July 9, 2014

    The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Tuesday and Wednesday, based on jail records.

    July 9, 2014

  • Indiana getting $849,000 for outdoor projects

    Indiana is receiving $849,000 to use toward outdoor recreation and conservation projects.

    July 9, 2014

  • Semi fire halts I-70 traffic in Putnam County

    A fire in a semi tractor-trailer temporarily closed eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 in Putnam County on Tuesday evening.

    July 9, 2014

  • I&M proposes five solar facilities in two states

    Indiana Michigan Power plans to seek permission to build five solar generating facilities in the two states it serves.

    July 9, 2014

  • MET070814 voice four.jpg Hitting a high note

    A 17-year-old from Casey, Ill., won “The Voice of the Valley” Tuesday night, singing and shaking his hips and legs to an Elvis Presley song, then wooing the grandstand audience at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds with a country tune.

    July 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET 070814 STORM STAUNTON.jpg Clay County residents clean up debris, get power back

    Several power outages still affected hundreds of Duke Energy customers on Tuesday, more than 24 hours after storms and strong winds swept through west-central Indiana, leaving a swath of damage in the Staunton, Brazil and Center Point areas.

    July 9, 2014 4 Photos

  • MET 052106 EVANBAYH ADDRESS.jpg Return to Indiana?

    Evan Bayh is keeping Indiana Democrats on hold.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Planning under way for 2014 Downtown Block Party

    Wabash Avenue will be full of activity Aug. 23 as the 2014 Downtown Terre Haute Block Party takes over five city blocks in a celebration of music, food and events.

    July 8, 2014

  • MET 070814 CATHOLIC WARE.jpg Guys give food bank a lift

    A $14,000 donation Tuesday from Guys Who Give enables Catholic Charities to be at nearly 75 percent of its $2.5 million goal to purchase and operate a new, larger food bank near Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field.

    July 8, 2014 2 Photos

  • wilson,robert.jpg ‘Dangerous’ suspect in police custody

    A man sought by the Vermillion County Sheriff's Department has been nabbed by police in Indianapolis.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • eBus brings financial empowerment to town

    A 40-foot long mobile classroom is scheduled to roll  into Terre Haute today, carrying what its sponsors call “financial empowerment.”

    July 8, 2014

  • Elderly woman accused of killing 89-year-old husband

    An 83-year-old woman, described as "a loose cannon" by her landlord, has been arrested in this Buffalo suburb for beating her 89-year-old husband to death.

    July 8, 2014

  • wilson,robert.jpg BREAKING: ‘Dangerous’ suspect in police custody

    A suspect police considered “armed and dangerous” is now in custody in Marion County.
    Robert Wilson is facing local charges there and has a hold on him for Vermillion County, according to Vermillion County Sheriff Robert J. Spence.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • 051713 BAYH SMILE.jpg Former governor Bayh weighs decision to run again

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Evan Bayh is keeping Indiana Democrats on hold.
    Party loyalists longing for a political savior to retake the governor's office have been waiting on Bayh ever since he abruptly decided to leave the U.S. Senate and political life three years ago.

    July 8, 2014 3 Photos

  • Vigo County Jail Log: July 8, 2014

    The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Monday and Tuesday, based on jail records.

    July 8, 2014

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Argentina to Face Germany in World Cup Final Kim Kardashian Hits Up Valentino Show in Paris Israeli Offensive Escalates in Gaza Attack Raw: 10-year Sentence for Ex-New Orleans Mayor Service Held for 200 Whose Bodies Went Unclaimed Police: Prostitute Accused in Overdose Death "Hotwives" Spoofs Reality TV Raw: Rocket Explodes Over Israeli Wedding World's Tallest Water Slide: See It for Yourself Sterling Testifies in Los Angeles Clippers Trial Weaver Reprises Ripley Role for 'Alien' Game Froome Crashes Out on Bumpy 5th Tour Stage Raw: World's Tallest Water Slide Opens Thursday Dodgers Found Partly Responsible in Fan Beating APNewsBreak: Different Attackers in Benghazi? Raw: Brazil Fans Cry After World Cup Loss Fans Dying to Be Near Jazz Greats Four Kids, Two Adults Shot Dead Near Houston Obama: 'Photo Ops' Won't Solve Border Crisis Raw: Fans Gather for Argentina-Netherlands Match
NDN Video
Argentina tops Holland in World Cup semifinals Emmy Nominations: What to Watch For News flush: Japanese toilet exhibition making a splash Emma Watson Is Va-Va-Voom in Valentino Photographic 'Proof' That LeBron Is Leaving Miami - @TheBuzzeronFOX Elephant Pool Party at The Oregon Zoo Must-See! Berry and Fallon Form Human Hamster Wheel Pilot buys pizzas for travelers delayed by storm Klose nets record, Germany rout Brazil 7-1 'Purrmanently Sad Cat' Looks Adorably Sad All the Time Pharrell 'humbled' by success of mega-hit 'Happy' Day After: Brazil Reeling in WC Loss Jennifer Lawrence Facepalms Emma Watson Athletes Bare All for ESPN Magazine's Body Issue Raw: Brazil Fans Leaving Stadium Before Half Andi Dorfman Walks Out During the Rose Ceremony 5 Firework Fails for July 4th Justin Bieber Catches Tom Hanks Getting Down, Showing ‘How We Do It Big shoes to fill for Brazil ahead of Germany clash Man's 'Potato Salad' Plea Takes Off on Kickstarter
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity