A Conversation with Ill. Brother Frank Martinez, MSA, 33°

Proud Veteran of World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam

Many of our Brothers live out the core Scottish Rite value of devotion to country each and every day. Their dedication to defending the land which they love never ceases to inspire and humble us.

This year, in honor of Veteran’s Day, we are publishing a recent interview with a Brother whose life story is truly inspiring: Ill. Brother Frank Martinez, MSA, 33°, from the Valley of Southern Illinois. Frank, now 92 years young, is a dedicated Freemason and member of the United States military. He served honorably in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War before retiring from the service.

This interview, conducted by fellow members of Frank’s Valley, Illustrious Brothers Randy Milone, and Mark Maxwell follow Frank’s life from his youth to his experience in the military, and the impact that Freemasonry has had on him over the years.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Frank. Let’s start from the beginning. Can you tell us what your early life was like?

I was born in Kansas City, Missouri on July 27th, 1927 to a bilingual family with three brothers and one sister. We lived with my grandmother who had 14 children of her own until we lost our father when I was seven years old. After he passed away, we were placed and raised in an orphan home in St. Louis, MO.

You had a prestigious military career. Can you tell us a bit about your time in the service?

I first enlisted in Navy in 1944 at age 17 and served 24 years until I retired in 1968 as a Senior Chief. Over that time, I served on aircraft carriers, minesweepers and destroyers, an oiler, and a small tug. Notably, during World War II, I was at Imo Jima and Okinawa.

I’m grateful for the opportunities the Navy provided me in life. I had met President Eisenhower in Washington D.C. and even had the chance to eat and visit on the Presidential yacht.

After I retired from the Navy, I went on to work in Civil Service for another 20 years. I’m a proud member of the VFW, the AMVETS and the Fleet Reserve and the Legion of Honor, Shriners International.

How did you first come to know about Freemasonry?

Growing up I had a good friend who was a Mason. I always looked up to him and wanted to be like him and, after speaking to him about it, I decided I wanted to join. He was influential to me.

I first became a Mason in Mobley, MO Lodge #344 in 1954. I was also a member of a Masonic Club in North Africa during my Navy tour and visited Masonic lodges during my travels around the world.

Today, I am an honorary member of O’Fallon, IL Lodge #576. When not cooking meals at annual reunions, I’ve been cast as a member in several degrees. Through my efforts and work in the Scottish Rite, I was fortunate and honored to receive both the MSA and the 33rd degree.

Why did you join the Scottish Rite? Do you belong to other Masonic bodies?

After I retired from the Navy, I hear from a few good friends that they belonged, and I wanted to be one of them. I also worked with other Masons in this area and saw that the friendships could go on after work and beyond.

I’m also a 50-year member of Ainad Shrine and still active in the local Shrine clubs and the Legion of Honor comprised of Veterans at Ainad Shrine.

What does Freemasonry mean to you? What do you value most about being a Freemason?

One word: “Comradery.” I enjoy being with my friends and brothers in a comfortable setting and making new friends. Freemasonry is a great organization that people look up to. People in our community feel we can be trusted and that we are good citizens.

Have you had any relatives that also belong in Masonry?

I have a great nephew who belongs to a lodge in St. Louis.

Do you have a favorite degree?

My favorite is the 27° as it leans toward a military theme.

What is your favorite activity to do with your brothers?

There are many. Golf – I play every day. I also go to the gym and exercise at Scott Air Force Base; I get up at 4:00 a.m. and am working out in the gym by 5:00 a.m.

Also, I enjoy playing gin rummy with my Brothers. I love to cook and enjoy sharing my skills with them. I enjoy being able to tell a good story or joke with my buddies as often as I can.

How has your experience in the service and as a veteran shaped your Masonic journey?

I believe the values I learned in the service such as treating your Brothers as family are parallel in Masonry. I strive to live my life by these values. I got to share my visit to Washington D.C. on a Veterans Honor Flight with other men belonging to the fraternity.

Serving in World War II, Korea and Vietnam allowed me to interact with all kinds of great people. I learned respect for others and that has allowed me to get recognition over the years as a local veteran and Mason serving in my community. I have been given several honorary recognitions.

Do you see similarities or differences between being in the military and being a Freemason?

Freemasons treat fellow men honestly and honorably with respect as you do in the military. Both organizations help you learn how to get along with others and teach you to become a leader.

How would you respond if asked by someone about becoming a Mason and a Scottish Rite Mason?

You should join the Scottish Rite to get the opportunity to know and meet great people. It is a way to learn more about yourself and how to get along with others. Freemasonry will help you grow and become a nice and respectful person.

Frank and his wife, Terry - married for 62 years.
Frank and his wife, Terry - married for 62 years.

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