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Memories of Marty
Marty Webster was one of those genuine human beings easy to talk to, even easier-going, and totally appreciative of any small gesture sent his way. Marty loved food (if it was recognizable to him) and at the annual Long Island VVAW barbeque he wasn't above asking to swap his serving of bratwurst or smoked salmon with me because mine looked bigger. He'd also happily go anywhere we took him on the Island (he'd hoped to move back to the area someday). There was the Maritime Seafood Festival where some kids asked if he was a pirate and the kayaking trip to Orient Point where he didn't move all afternoon from the picnic table where we'd left him, just looking at his laptop, watching the ocean and of course devouring a couple of sandwiches.
Long Island and VVAW will have a little less color without you, Marty. Farewell. I'll miss you.
I'm watching the Yankees first spring training game waiting for a call from Marty that will never come. He would always call me during games even though he knew I recorded them so I could fast forward and miss the commercials. It didn't matter if he had to share the pain or exhilaration. Marty's greatest pleasure was the Yankees, equaled by his hatred of the Red Sox and their inbred fans.
While he still was able to travel he would come to Long Island for our annual VVAW/Warrior Princess Birthday BBQ and stay for a week or so. During his time in the Navy, he was stationed at St. Albans Naval Hospital and was very familiar with the island and enjoyed his stay.
One year June Svetlovsky and I took him kayaking with us at Wertheim national refuge, which had just opened its new visitors center. Physically he couldn't kayak, so we dropped him at the center. The staff looked terrified that we were dumping him there. When we came back later he told us they treated him like royalty. Brought him a chair to sit on the deck and gave him bottled water and binoculars. He loved every minute and the staff was very relieved we showed up to take him home. Years later June and I went back and they still remembered him. So will I, although not the early calls. Goodbye my friend
Marty was a great friend. He was active up to the end but health issues slowed him down in recent days. He used to come in for parties at Brian's where he would schmooze with all the vets and friends. He'd flirt with women in totally appropriate ways and then get serious about the important stuff.
At the IVAW Winter Soldier event Marty was everywhere. Helping vets process stuff. Keeping things safe. Doing the hard stuff so the event went smoothly. Marty didn't like the limelight. He worked in the background. I'll remember going out to eat with him and he would take forever to decide what to order. I miss this guy
I don't have a detailed memory to share, but I'm sure the first (maybe only?) time I met Marty in person was at Winter Solder: Iraq and Afghanistan. I'd been on the kitchen crew at Standdown in Chicago a handful of times since joining VVAW, but WS:IA was my first time being surrounded by such a large group of veterans. Marty is present in my memory with skilled barbs—that pointed sense of humor that seems central to any exchange among veterans. The security team at WS:IA excelled at that level of humor and made experiencing the emotions that filled the campus just that much more bearable.
Over the past 15 or so years, Marty and I spent many hours on the phone and texting each other while doing National Office business. For quite a few years, Marty was the go to guy to return phone calls made to the National Office. He did whatever he could to help the people who called us, even if that was only to lend an ear to a fellow vet's troubles. Marty truly enjoyed helping those on the other end of the phone.
When reporting back to me, Marty would find ways to break up the heaviness of some of the stories with his always-on sense of humor. We shared a lot of laughs, while getting the work done. I know as his health declined, he missed being able to make those calls.
Marty loved being part of VVAW. Already miss ya, Marty.
Barry Romo and Marty Webster visiting the West Coast in 2009.
Jeff Machota, Marty Webster, and Ken Neilsen
at a security briefing at IVAW's Winter Soldier in 2008.
Marty Webster and his daughter Suzy at IVAW's Winter Soldier in 2008.