Derek Martin, 32, passed away on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 in Lincoln, California. Derek was born in Wellington, Kansas on July 16, 1987. He is a graduate of Wellington High School, class of 2005. Derek excelled at academics, technology, and sports, to included baseball, basketball, and his passion—golf. He was on the high school golf team and worked at the golf course. As a child, Derek was very silly, energetic, and extremely outgoing; he would make friends on vacation that may be decades older than him. He will be remembered by childhood friends as “D-Money,” the guy who loved playing poker and had an infectious laugh.
Derek knew from a young age that he wanted to join the military. He enlisted in the United States Air Force in 2006. Upon graduating from Basic Military Training at Lackland AFB, Texas, he was assigned to MacDill AFB, Florida as part of the 6th Security Forces Squadron. His marksmanship was so impressive that he received an invitation to go to sniper school, to which he declined to stay with his family. Derek enjoyed cracking jokes at work and occasionally pulling over the cute girl going 2mph over the speed limit just to catch a glimpse of her. Derek loved his job and was quick to volunteer for deployments. He proudly served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, deploying to both Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times. Derek took pride in his job and was able to gather vital intelligence of adversary movement while still helping the local populace. In fact, his efforts even touched the hearts of the band Metallica to where they provided him with items to donate to these children. Derek was happiest being with his military brothers and sisters. He was a decorated war veteran and recipient of the prestigious Purple Heart.
Derek married Renee in Tampa, FL on September 14, 2011, who was also active duty. Derek moved from Clearwater Beach to Lakeland, FL, separated from the military in 2012, and went to Professional Golfers Career College in Orlando, FL, specializing in an associate’s degree in pro golf management, a dream he had long aspired to accomplish. Derek graduated top of his class in 2013, holds the course record with a 59, and has qualified for numerous tournaments. In 2013, the young family moved to Visalia, California upon learning Renee would become a Recruiter. Derek worked hard as an assistant golf professional at Valley Oaks Golf Course, and most recently, at Lincoln Hills Golf Club; the family moved to Lincoln, CA a few years ago. Additionally, Derek was in his final semester of school; he would graduate this spring with his bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Due to Derek’s love for the military and helping others, Derek partnered with the Wounded Warrior Project and spent a great deal of time talking about his military experiences with local veterans, hoping that sharing his stories would help others. Derek always believed there were others that needed help more than himself. In conjunction with one of his Air Force brothers, who like Derek suffered from PTSD, he co-founded the nonprofit, Rimpact Foundation, in 2014. Rimpact stood for “Reaper Impact”, partly named after the namesake of the Security Force moniker, the Reaper. He always believed sports, especially golf, was a way to ease the pain people felt, especially those with PTSD and TBI ailments. Rimpact’s mission was to bring wounded warriors together around the game of golf, and Derek was key in acquiring donations for equipment, rounds of golf, and lessons. Derek got such joy volunteering his time to teach golf lessons outside of the organization and work, as well as being a regular volunteer at his children’s elementary school.
Derek was an avid Kansas City Chiefs fan and a loyal fan to his favorite band, Metallica. He enjoyed running, having a good beer, being in the snow, cooking, playing video games, talking to people, and being silly with his kids. Derek coached his son’s youth football, basketball, and baseball teams. The kids loved Derek’s silliness and sense of humor. Derek truly was a big kid at heart and enjoyed being home with his wife and kids.
A Celebration of Life with full military honors will be held in Lincoln, CA at a place and time to be determined. All are invited to come and share a moment with Derek for this occasion. A Celebration of Life with an Honor Guard compliment will be held at Kansas Veteran’s Cemetery in Winfield, KS, shortly upon his return to his birthplace, time to be determined. In lieu of flowers, a GoFundMe page is available at https://www.gofundme.com/ (search: Derek Scott Martin), as well as a Trust Fund, to help Derek’s three children with their future.
“My beloved Derek, my only son, my ‘middle’ kid. You lived a lot of life in your short time on earth. You never hesitated to help others, and touched the lives of so many. More than you probably ever realized. You gave it your all in everything you did, and made us all so very proud. We lost you 23 days ago, and the pain is still very raw and at times unbearable. There are so many wonderful memories of you that I will always cherish, and hold close to my heart. You were truly one of a kind, and not a day will ever pass that I won’t think of you and miss you. Your sense of humor, your infectious laugh, your silliness, and so many other wonderful qualities. I’ve got to hold onto to those good & fun memories. I find comfort knowing you’re finally at peace. God has another task for you, “a mission”. I believe that is to watch over us all, and remain with us always. I’ll love and will miss you forever” ~ Mom (Paula, written April 9, 2020)
Deployments: Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, Kandahar, Afghanistan
Places he called home: California, Kansas, Florida
#22TooMany #OurHeroes are #NeverForgotten