A Fort Bliss senior-level noncommissioned officer who died from wounds he received in action in Afghanistan was remembered as a dedicated soldier and leader who made a big impact across the Army.
Command Sgt. Maj. Martin R. Barreras, 49, of Tucson, Ariz., died Tuesday at the San Antonio Medical Center at Joint Base San Antonio. He was taken there after he was wounded when enemy forces attacked his unit with small-arms fire on May 6 in Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense.
Barreras, a highly decorated Ranger, was the top senior enlisted soldier for 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division since March 2013. His battalion deployed to Afghanistan in December 2013.
Barreras was originally from Tularosa, N.M., but went to high school in Tucson and he listed that city as his hometown.
"Command Sgt. Maj. Barreras was my friend and battle buddy," said Lt. Col. Edward Brady, battalion commander. "I've spent more time with him than my wife since I've taken command. I believe that I was the luckiest battalion commander in the Army to have him as my (command sergeant major).
"While every soldier in this formation is extremely saddened by his loss, his Bobcats are doing exactly what he would expect of us: continuing on with the mission and taking fight to the enemy," Brady continued. "This man would do absolutely anything and everything to ensure his soldiers came home safely."Barreras' unit was one of two battalions from 3rd Brigade that deployed in December to provide security for key infrastructure in Afghanistan and for Special Operations forces to continue training America's Afghan partners as part of the U.S. drawdown there.
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Julio Candelario served with Barreras at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation at Fort Benning, Ga., for the six months prior to Barreras coming to Fort Bliss.
"He was a very dedicated and humble person," Candelario said. "He was a very friendly and very intelligent individual who put the Army and the soldiers ahead of his own (needs). The Army was his second family, other than his own family at home.
"He worked hard and always strove for perfection in a calm manner," Candelario said. "I never saw him lose his temper. It's a big loss for the Army and the soldiers serving under his leadership. He was a great man."
Col. Christopher C. LaNeve, commander of the 3rd Brigade, said Barreras was an "awesome, awesome leader."
"It was an absolute honor to serve with him every day, and he will be sorely missed," LaNeve said.
After completing his initial military schools, he was assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment, an elite infantry unit at Fort Benning, in 1988 and served for the next 22 years in various capacities in the Ranger Regiment at three different locations -- Fort Benning, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., and Joint Base Lewis McChord, Wash. He served in virtually every enlisted duty and leadership position within the regiment and completed multiple combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a biography provided by Fort Bliss.
He later served as the command sergeant major for the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, also at Fort Benning, from August 2009 to August 2012.
Barreras is survived by a wife, two daughters and a son.
His medals include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with valor device, Bronze Star with three oak leaf clusters, the Purple Heart with one oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with three oak leaf clusters and many others.