David Martin is still a proud papa even though he admits his kids both scare him.
Mr. Martin, branch manager for Martin Tire Co. in Las Cruces, has a son serving with the U.S. Air Force near Kabul, Afghanistan, and a daughter serving in the Texas National Guard in Austin, Texas. Airman 1st Class Christopher Martin, 23, has been serving in Afghanistan since October as an Explosive, Ordinance and Disposal (EOD) technician responsible for finding and defusing bombs that didn't detonate during the U.S. bombing campaign in 2001.
Mr. Martin said his son told him that approximately 20 percent of the bombs dropped on Afghanistan didn't detonate, and now the military is working to find them so no one is killed or injured. He also is responsible for defusing bombs generated by the opposition.
Christopher usually e-mails once a week and sends pictures, Mr. Martin said, but he and his son avoid discussing any outbreaks of violence.
``We don't talk much of the details (of the war),'' Mr. Martin told Tire Business. ``He said there were a few close calls. Rockets coming in and stuff, so I tell him to get back safe and give us the details when he gets back.''
Mr. Martin said he and his wife Frances worried about Christopher's safety when some fighting broke out as militants tried to disrupt the Afghan presidential election last October.
``(Militants) were trying to disrupt the elections, so there were a few explosions he had to go out and do,'' Mr. Martin said. ``As a whole, it's not as much as Iraq. But they still have similar problems, but not near as much.''
Despite the problems, Christopher has written that morale among the troops is good, according to Mr. Martin. On Christmas Day, the troops feasted on roast beef, turkey, shrimp, crab legs and lobster tails. The Martins sent their son a Christmas care package of chocolates, letters, pictures, phone cards and the gift he most wanted: the Star Wars trilogy special edition DVD set.
Though Christopher has served in the Air Force for the past three years, Mr. Martin said the separation still is hard, and he and his family try to keep a ``stiff upper lip'' and remain optimistic. The family is hoping that Christopher will come home in March, but his homecoming has been delayed twice already.
``I don't know how parents in the World War II era or Vietnam era, who couldn't talk to their kids, how they handled it,'' he said. ``We get to talk to him or at least (get) e-mail from him at least once a week. It's nice.''
Pfc. Nicole Martin, 21, Mr. Martin's daughter, has served in the National Guard for a year and is assigned to duty in Egypt this summer. He said he's proud of her and her service, noting that as a soldier she handles herself well.
``I'm proud of any kids, whether it's mine or anybody else's, who would enlist in these troubled times,'' he said. ``They're great examples. There are soapbox people who moan and complain about things. But these are good kids.''
An 11-year veteran of the tire industry, Mr. Martin has worked as branch manager at El Paso, Texas-based Martin Tire's Las Cruces store for the past three years. Though the dealership bears his surname, he said he is not related to the Martin family who owns and operates the company. The dealership has six stores in El Paso and one store each in Las Cruces and Alamogordo, New Mexico.