Five years ago, the 46-year-old former Marine was diagnosed with brain tumors."I was doing fine until I started having seizures and they did some tests and took some biopsies and then they found out I had tumors," Martinez said of his initial diagnosis.Tomorrow morning before daylight, I will be saddling up my bike for a four hour ride to Knoxville Tennessee. I will be meeting up with a fellow Patriot Guard rider north of Atlanta for the journey. We will be making the trip together. We and a number of other Patriot Guard riders from around the south are answering the call to meet the plane of this Marine as he arrives for his last wish weekend in the Great Smokey Mountains.
Aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments initially seemed to work. Martinez went into remission and was back on the road to a normal life.In January he started having seizures again His doctors did more tests and discovered the cancer had returned and this time it was terminal. He was placed in the care of hospice nurses from Harbour Hospice of Bexar County.
Martinez faces each new day knowing it could be his last, but he isn't focused on dying."I'm just living one day at a time that's all I can do," Martinez said.Last week Martinez was asked by his case manager, Barbara Kirk, if he had any final wishes. He had two.The first was to be reunited with his kids that he hadn't seen since his divorce six years ago.
Kirk and the other nurses at Harbour Hospice contacted the children and they came to visit their father."The second (wish) was just to go out to the mountains again and have one last time under the stars and a campfire and get along with nature once again," Martinez said recalling his wish.
Kirk jumped into action. She's not in the business of fulfilling final wishes but said there was just something about Martinez that made her want to help him. She felt a connection to him because of his service to his country. She is also a veteran, having served in the Air Force and she has two kids currently serving in the military."
He's just been a joy to take care of, he has the sweetest spirit and has just an incredible outlook on life and this is his deck of cards and he has to play them," Kirk said.Within a few days of making calls to her network of friends around the country,
Kirk said she managed to pull together an all expenses paid trip to the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee. She said she even managed to find a group of active duty Marines from North Carolina to spend the day with Martinez."Their mission is their falling brother, and they are taking him to a stream and parking him on the bank there and he's going fishing," Kirk said.
Martinez said he is most looking forward to that fishing trip because he will get to spend time with some younger Marines. He wants to thank them for their service and let them know that he'd be standing along side them on the front lines if he was healthy enough."If they would ask me right now I would jump on that truck, and go again," Martinez said. "I would not hesitate a minute."
The trip to Tennessee is planned for the first weekend in October. Martinez said he is doing all he can to hang on that long."I can't wait to get up there and have a good time," Martinez said.
He doesn't know that we are coming. He doesn't know that we will be there to meet his plane. He doesn't know that we will be giving him a full military honors escort from the airport to his weekend accommodations and his last wish to spend time doing something that he loves.
He doesn't know that there will be a number of active duty Marines coming in from bases in North Carolina to come help him live his dream and be there for him while he enjoys one of his last pleasures of life.
Many people are coming forward to make this happen. Everything has been donated, down to the last detail. Even his food which will have to be brought in and cooked for him has been donated by a former Marine who owns a local restaurant.
Here is a LINK to a small video tribute to a big man. A man now reduced physically by a devastating disease, but never reduced in spirit.
I am looking forward to meeting this hero. I am looking forward to the opportunity to meet this giant of a man and hopefully bring a smile to his face tomorrow.
Semper Fi Marine.... many of your brothers are coming and will be there for you as you make this final walk.