Two Marines from two eras who share one tragic common bond — the loss of limbs in battle — forged a lifelong friendship in the mountains of the Paradise Valley last week.
They met through the kindness of strangers under a new program created by the 2013 Legislature, through which people can donate a hunting license for combat-wounded veterans who are awarded Purple Hearts and have a
70 percent or greater disability rating.
“We’re trying to help with the healing process,” said Hank Worsech, the licensing bureau chief for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “In this case, we had two men from two different wars; one from the Vietnam War who was never recognized for his sacrifice, and one from the war in Afghanistan who came home and was hailed as a hero.”
Sgt. Gabriel Martinez and Cpl. Donald “Buck” Honold are polar opposites yet brothers in arms. Martinez, 25, is from Colorado with a 1-year-old daughter. He married his wife, Kayla, in July 2010 and deployed to Afghanistan in October 2010. One month later, on Thanksgiving Day, an improvised explosive device took both of his legs.
“The day I lost my legs, by no means was I thinking I would go out and kick some ass. I thought my life as I knew it was over,” Martinez said. “I thought I would be the most despondent person ever. That I couldn’t drive, couldn’t walk, couldn’t do anything. I pictured myself as being this vegetable.”