John Martinko was born on December 12, 1945 in Poughkeepsie to John and Margaret Martinko. He enlisted in the U.S. Army as an Infantryman after graduating from Poughkeepsie High School in 1964. After completing basic training in Fort Dix, New Jersey and advanced infantry training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, he was assigned to the 27th Infantry Regiment “Wolfhounds” of the 25th Infantry Division “Tropic Lightning.”
Mr. Martinko deployed to Vietnam in January 1966. In November of that year, then a squad leader in 1st Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, he participated in Operation Attleboro. On November 3, 1966, Mr. Martinko was leading his squad on a UH-1 “Huey” air assault insertion for a search and destroy mission during the Battle of Dau Tieng. He sustained injuries by hostile enemy forces when he was hit by gunfire and sustained burns. Mr. Martinko was medevacked and recovered at the MASH station in Cu Chi. He attained the rank of Sergeant (E-5), left Vietnam on December 24, 1966 and received an honorable discharge in August 1967. Sgt. Martinko is the recipient of the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, two Air Medals, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
Sgt. Martinko returned to Poughkeepsie, where he graduated from Dutchess Community College and SUNY New Paltz. He served the United States Postal Service, where he delivered mail to the Poughkeepsie community for 30 years. Sgt. Martinko also officiated high school and recreational sports for Dutchess County until he retired from the Post Office in 1997.
Sgt. Martinko is a member of the Vail-Wolff McKenna-Frye Post 170 VFW in Poughkeepsie, and the Disabled American Veterans.
He and his wife, Sabina, have four grown children and 15 grandchildren.