Williams S. Martin III; Retired Lieutenant Colonel

Friday, August 31, 2007

Williams Swift Martin III, 72, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, died Aug. 23 at his home in Washington. He had Alzheimer's disease.

Col. Martin, a graduate of West Point and an Army Ranger, served twice in Vietnam. But his military career began far from tropical jungles at Fort Richardson in Alaska, where he conducted several long-range reconnaissance ski patrols and helped to establish an airborne company.

Col. Martin was deployed in June 1965 with the 101st Division to Vietnam, where he saw combat through the fall until he was named assistant operations adviser at II Corps headquarters. In 1966, he returned to the United States to Fort Benning, Ga., and then taught ROTC at Vanderbilt University. He returned to Vietnam in June 1969 and served with the 1st Air Cavalry Division. In his last month there, he was operations officer and ground task force commander during the incursion into Cambodia.

Col. Martin later worked at a recruiting command in Beckley, W.Va., and at V Corps in Frankfurt, Germany, where he was G3 operations section chief. His last assignment was with the ballistic missile defense program at the Pentagon. He retired from the Army in 1979.

Among his military awards were the Combat Infantryman's Badge, Legion of Merit, the Air Medal, two awards of the Bronze Star Medal and two awards of the Meritorious Service Medal.

Col. Martin received a master of science degree in business administration from Boston University in 1977 and an MBA from the school in 1980. He then started a computer systems consulting business in Washington, Automation Management, which he ran for 15 years. He retired a second time in the mid-1990s.

He was born in Sudbury, Ontario, to a Canadian mother and a father who was an American mining engineer. The family lived in England and Finland and later moved to Virginia, Connecticut and Washington. Col. Martin graduated from St. Albans School in Washington, where he played middle linebacker on a city championship football team.

He attended Cornell University and then enlisted in the Army. He was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and graduated in 1960.

His interests included music, the outdoors, architecture, antique furniture, American impressionism, European art, Chinese porcelain and fine wine. He was a senior warden at Christ Church in Georgetown and a Scoutmaster. He was also a member of the Society of Cincinnati and of the Army and Navy Club of Washington.

Survivors include his wife of 47 years, Ellen Wills Martin of Washington; three children, Williams S. Martin IV of Kathmandu, Nepal, John Wills Martin of Los Angeles and Elizabeth Martin Chapman of Alexandria; two sisters; and eight grandchildren.

-- Patricia Sullivan

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