It takes most people an entire lifetime to figure out their calling, but at 17 years old, Lynn Martin knew what she wanted to do and was eager to make it happen.
Born and raised in Lake Lotowana, the now Petty Officer 2nd Class graduated a semester early from Lee Summit North High School and was ready to follow in her family’s military footsteps.
“My mom and dad were both Navy, they were both corpsmen and then my stepdad, he was also Navy,” explained Martin, ”and both my mom and my dad's side, they all have military in them so it was just kind of in my blood to join the Navy.”
As a newly enlisted recruit, she headed off to boot camp at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center just north of Chicago, Illinois. After successfully completing basic training, she was sent to Pensacola, Florida where she specialized in MH-53E aircraft training, a nearly 100 foot long naval helicopter that focuses on airborne mine countermeasures and cargo or personnel transport missions. For Martin, the aircraft’s complexity is what compelled her to specialize in it.
"It's a very small community, it definitely stands out from all the other aircrafts, it’s huge; it's like flying a school bus,” described Martin.
After finishing training in Florida, she conducted additional training through the military’s SERE (Survival Evasion, Resistance and Escape) program. After graduation from that program, she joined her training squadron to further advance her MH-53E training.
Eight years later, her naval career continues to take this Missouri native all across the globe. She did two tours in South Korea, experiencing deployment during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic while working with foreign military personnel. It was that experience which helped her persevere through a pandemic in another country.
“While I was deployed out there, we do the same mission, we tow our equipment through water looking for mines and neutralizing the mines, we also do lots of cargo missions and work with Korean marines and do paradrops with them,” recalled Martin, “we’ll load up the helicopter with 15 to 20 Korean marines, fly them at altitude and drop the out back and that’s fun working with them, seeing cultural differences and working with another country’s military.”
Martin is currently in Norfolk, Virginia as an active naval aircrewman while serving as an instructor within the Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 12. She is responsible for teaching her students all about the MH-53E aircraft and how its systems operate. She says the biggest takeaway she wants her students to understand is the grind is ongoing, but it pays off.
“The learning just never stops, even though I am an instructor now there’s stuff I am still learning,” admitted Martin;” it hasn’t been the hardest part but coming up as a student you realize there’s so much to learn and once you get to the fleet you can actually start applying that and it becomes really rewarding.”
Martin’s role puts female leadership within the military at the forefront. She says while there are female aircrewmen, it continues to be a male-dominated industry and her hope is for more women to keep joining the career she loves while making it an even playing field for everyone.
“The amount of determination and motivation you have to have in studying the helicopter, and working on your physical fitness, just have to have that motivation, it is really important, no matter if you're a girl or a boy,” said Martin.