Martin retiring after lifetime of service
Published 11:30 am Friday, January 2, 2015
After more than four decades as a federal employee, Vicksburg National Military Park Chief of Operations Rick Martin will hang up his ranger hat for the final time today.
Martin will retire after more than 16 years with VNMP, nearly 40 with the National Park Service, and 42 1/2 years with the federal government.
“I’ve been in some type of service my whole life, so that’s probably what I’ll keep doing,” Martin said this week between his park duties and cleaning out his office in the basement of the Visitor Center.
The time Martin has spent in Vicksburg is the longest he’s stayed in one place in his life. His father was in the Army, and before coming to Vicksburg, Martin worked for national parks in his home state of New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
“Vicksburg is my home, so I’m going to stay here in Vicksburg,” he said. “I have no regrets. I love it here.”
During the American bicentennial celebration, Martin joined the staff of the fledgling Fort Stanwix National Monument.
“They wanted four people to portray Revolutionary War soldiers,” he said.
He began his career with the NPS as a soldier from the 18th century but began his service to the federal government as a Vietnam War era member of the 101st Airborne Division. He spent three years on active duty from 1972 to 1975 as the war in Southeast Asia was winding down.
“I was just fortunate that I didn’t go to Vietnam,” Martin said.
Martin did serve in a logistics unit in Iraq in 2003-04 and in Afghanistan from 2010-11.
“I was just lucky that I wasn’t killed in Baghdad,” Martin said of the dangerous work where many soldiers were killed by roadside bombs.
He retired as a colonel in the Mississippi National Guard in July 2013. He had previously been a member of the guard in New York, Maryland and Oklahoma, and was able to transfer his service with each new park he worked for.
“I was very fortunate to be able to work with the National Guard and the National Park Service and have a dual career. Not a lot of people get to do what I did,” Martin said.
Martin’s retirement is the fourth of a long-term employee in five years, VNMP Superintendent Mike Madell said.
“We’ve lost the mount Rushmore of service over here,” Madell said, noting the retirements of administrator Rosie Wince, historian Terry Winschel, maintenance chief Jerrel Cooper. “That’s a 120 years of experience. That’s really hard to replace.”
Martin’s leadership will be missed greatly, Madell said.
“He’s got a lot of years under his belt and addition to being a really great guy and a positive member of the team around here, we’re loosing a lot of institutional memory with him,” Madell said.