BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN, March 22, 2017 —
U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Joshua Wade Martin flew his final flight here, Mar. 17, as a member of the Distinguished Visitor Operations Detachment (DV Ops) of Task Force Thor/206th Military Intelligence Battalion.
Dozens of DV Ops and TF Thor Soldiers were standing by to greet him as he landed his Fairchild C-26 Metroliner fixed-wing aircraft for the final time.
Two fire engines sprayed arching water plumes over the top of his aircraft as it taxied to the ramp. When Martin stepped to the tarmac, his teammates surrounded him with honors as they doused him in water.
The water salute is a time-honored tradition to celebrate notable events in aviation or naval history, such as the last flight of an aircraft or pilot. The last flight often signifies a pending retirement from service.
“This is quite an honor,” said Martin. “I wasn’t expecting all of this. I just want to thank everybody for doing this.”
"He [Martin] is completely mission focused, every time, 100 percent,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Javier Barrera, DV Ops detachment commander. “He has been doing a great job and I’m sure he’ll continue to do a great job in retirement."
Martin has flow nearly 100 missions in Afghanistan, flying four to five times a week with each mission lasting from three to 10 hours, according to Barrera.
“I’ve served with Chief Martin for the full rotation, nine months,” said Sgt. 1st Class John Tucker, DV Ops flight operations sergeant. “He showed up eager to get the mission done. Everyone is always pleased with his performance. He’s got a ‘let’s get it done,’ very professional mentality.”
The DV Ops detachment here in Afghanistan is currently a conglomeration of Ohio and Arkansas Army National Guard (ARNG) units and Soldiers. Martin is a Soldier in the Arkansas ARNG. Barrera and Tucker are both in the Ohio ARNG.
The DV Ops crews transport VIPs throughout Afghanistan; primarily senior Resolute Support headquarters officers and noncommissioned officers, but also distinguished visitors from the U.S. and other NATO coalition nations. DV Ops also transports other passengers or cargo whenever their services are the more efficient, effective, or available option, according to Tucker.
Martin is culminating 28 years of Army service. He will redeploy soon to begin his transition toward retirement from the Arkansas Army National Guard (ARARNG) this summer. In retirement he hopes to land a civilian pilot job similar to what he has done here.
Martin enlisted in the ARARNG in 1989. He spent a few years with a Special Forces Group in the Colorado ARNG in the mid-1990’s. He returned to Arkansas where he earned the rank of Sergeant First Class and met his goal of becoming a readiness noncommissioned officer.
He applied for warrant officer selection and completed rotary-wing flight school in 2002, qualified to fly UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.
When he earned his fixed-wing pilot certification, he joined Detachment 30, Operational Support Airlift in Little Rock providing the same type support missions he has fulfilled here with DV Ops.
This tour was Martin’s first deployment to Afghanistan. He had previously deployed to Balad, Iraq in 2006-2007 where he flew Blackhawks.
Martin has three children, two sons who are currently following in their father’s footsteps. His oldest son is an Army nurse and his youngest son is completing the process to enlist directly into the active Army Warrant Officer Flight School. Martin’s daughter is still in elementary school.
“I have always enjoyed the camaraderie of the Army,” Martin continued. “The friendships have been the best part for me. I’ve always enjoyed the missions we do. I’ve enjoyed flying here.”
“I’ve been active duty with the Guard for most of my career and that’s provided a good life for my family.”
After the water salute on the flight line, everyone adjourned to the DV Ops hangar for some celebratory cake, fellowship, and well wishes.