ANA MEDINA ’16
It’s common to hear people say, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” However it rarely sinks in, not until you realize you have done exactly the opposite of what you’ve been told. Without intending to, many have fallen into this trap and made judgments based on someone’s appearance. However, these judgments may take away the opportunity of meeting someone completely extraordinary. Take Kevin Martin ’17 for example. His strong build would tell you that he probably plays a sport, which he does- football. Looking at his kind face, you can tell that there is something more beneath the surface. At the young age of 23, Martin served as a proud member of the United States Army and earned a Purple Heart.
Born in Madison, Connecticut, Martin did not always plan to be a part of the Army. He mentions, “at the end of my senior year [in high school] I read books about wars. I wasn’t doing much and it made me think that there was an opportunity, and going out there was something my generation was called upon to do. It’s once in a lifetime.”
Despite the difficulties faced while at war, Martin has no regrets. He remembers leaving for Afghanistan six days after Bin Laden was killed and returned April 6. Life on the battlefield had a great impact on Martin. He recalls his most impactful moment in combat as, “it had to be the first time [I was shot at] because it was something I had never felt. You will never have an adrenaline rush that can compare to it so, after that you knew what to expect.” In that moment he explains that, “you never know what you were going to feel, [getting injured] happened very quickly to me.”
In order to be awarded or considered for a Purple Heart, one must be “part of the armed forces of the United States [and] be wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy.” Martin’s road to earning this honor was not an easy one. He explains, “I got hit by a roadside bomb…I was knocked out and had superficial cuts and injuries. My left ear [was injured].” He states, “I just remember waking up and seeing my legs and arms. It was the most relieving moment in my entire life and it was also the happiest moment. I wasn’t sad, I was very happy.” After going through such an experience, Martin says he now feels invincible, and surviving such an injury made him feel fearless. He states, “I believed that at 20 I was untouchable [and I still do] until proven otherwise.”
Martin also had an immense amount of support from his family and friends. “I have never met more generous people than my family and friends back home. It made [everything] worth it. I used to get packages every other day after getting hurt,” he describes.
After receiving his injury, Martin mentions that he did not consider submitting forms for a Purple Heart. He says, “I didn’t think much of it until I was talking to a command major and he talked to me…very powerful[ly and said, ‘Do you know these will be passed down your family?’ That’s when it actually hit me,” he says. Upon hearing this, Martin decided to go through with applying. It was a long process, particularly with endless doctor reviews. However on Christmas Eve, Martin was greeted with an extraordinary gift—a Purple Heart award.
Now at Trinity, Martin says, “ I’m just really happy to be a college kid and that’s all I really want to be. Just want to be here getting good grades and being happy.” Though only a sophomore, his favorite parts of Trinity already are football and the academics, which both provide many opportunities for him to succeed. While he has no set plans for his future, aside from enjoying life, he is considering a major in American Studies.
To people considering joining the armed forces, he advises, “you better really want to do it, it’s a binding contract. You can’t flunk out or drop out [and] it’ll be the biggest commitment of your life. Be sure it’s what you want.” Despite his cautionary words, he encourages people to go after what they really want. Having this positive attitude, regardless of his difficult experiences, Martin shows us that when you have a dream, it’s never too late to start. “Although experiences are difficult…in life if there’s anything you want and you really want it just go do it. Don’t give it a half thought, just do it and good things will happen,” he says.