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USAF Lieutenant Colonel Melchizedek “Kato” Martinez

U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Melchizedek “Kato” Martinez joined the military out of New York in 1990 because he wanted to serve his country. He completed his ROTC program at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where he earned a degree in theoretical mathematics.

Throughout this military career, he has held numerous leadership positions at the Sub-Unified Command, MAJCOM, Warfighting HQ  and squadron levels. Lt. Col. Martinez is a graduate of the US Marine Corps Expeditionary Warfare School at Quantico, Va.

Tragedy struck the Martinez family in March of 2016 when they were caught in the immediate blast range of two suicide bomb explosions inside the Brussels Airport in Belgium. Lieutenant Colonel Martinez’s wife died while trying to protect her children. Their four children all survived, but were left with many injuries, including severe burns, fractures and shrapnel wounds that will require a lengthy rehabilitation process, both physically and psychologically.


Lieutenant Colonel Martinez and Gail had celebrated their 21st anniversary as a couple last August.

In the attacks, Lieutenant Colonel  Martinez sustained second- and third-degree burns throughout his body, a fractured heel, shrapnel wounds, a concussion, hearing loss and a left foot laceration. He also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Lieutenant Colonel Martinez has received many awards and commendations for his service, including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Air Force Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star device, Kosovo Campaign Medal with one bronze star device, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with one bronze star device, Iraq Campaign Medal with one bronze star device, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal with one bronze star device, Humanitarian Service Medal, Air and Space Campaign Medal, Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal and the NATO Medal with two bronze star devices. His Purple Heart is currently pending.

The Martinez family would like to reside in San Antonio, in honor of Gail’s wishes to raise the family in this location.



Building Homes for Heroes® further supports our nation’s veterans through its emergency funding program, which provides for all veterans and their families who experience life-altering, watershed moments in their lives. 

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