Richard O. Martinez was born in El Paso, TX, on February 10, 1955. He attended Father Yermo Elementary, Jesuit and Jefferson High School of El Paso, and the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). He graduated from UTEP in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering.
Driven by a passion for technology and innovation, Mr. Martinez began his career working for Martin Marietta Aerospace in New Orleans, LA, where he worked as a Thermal Analyst on the external tank of the Space Shuttle Program for two years. In 1981, Mr. Martinez returned home to The Sun City (El Paso). He has continued his service to the federal government ever since. Mr. Martinez has held various positions at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) for the Materiel Test Directorate (MTD) throughout his tenure. These positions include work as a Test Engineer, Project Engineer, and Supervisor of the Climatic Environments Branch. He has worked at Ft. Bliss as a Systems Engineer for the Army Development and Acquisition of Threat Simulators (ADATS). He was assigned to a developmental assignment at Washington D.C. as acting Assistant Director for Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) Test & Evaluation Directorate at the Pentagon. He has been assigned as the MTD Project Engineer for the Theater Missile Defense (TMD) targets of Hera and Storm (August 1993 – July 2000). As Chief of the Tactical Missiles Branch, he supervised 35 personnel consisting of engineers, technicians, and administrative support (July 2000-July 2003) involved in missile testing. In July 2003, Mr. Martinez was promoted to Chief for the Applied Science Division within the Directorate, which consisted of ninety people in three areas; applied environments, warheads, metrics, and measurements. He held that position until Oct 2005, when he was assigned as the Chief, Future Force Division that handled all of the Future Combat Systems (FCS) programs being tested at White Sands Missile Range. He was on assignment with Operational Test Command (OTC) as Interim Director, where he helped “stand-up” the Integrated Test & Evaluation Directorate, intended to plan and execute tests, assessments, and experiments in support of network integration and other missions executed at FBTX/WSMR footprint from November 2009 to July 2010. He returned to White Sands, and Mr. Martinez was again assigned as the Chief, Future Force Directorate. He served as Interim Director or Acting Director on 2 occasions before he retired in August of 2017 after 36 years of service in the Federal Government. He was Adjunct Professor at the UTEP ME department for 5 semesters (2018 – 2020), teaching “Soft Skills” to mechanical engineering students. He is now consulting with a collaboration of WSMR retirees called “GreyBeard Group.”
Mr. Martinez has been the National President (May 1996 – 2000) of the Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists (MAES) and has been a National Board Member for several years (1990 – 2004, 2021). He is a product of MAES and its programs, having started with the organization as a student and as one of its founding members at the University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP) Student Chapter (1977). He has held various positions at the local level within the El Paso Chapter and the White Sands Chapter, from President to Board Member. He was also active with the Federal Managers Association (FMA) for several years. He now holds the position of Treasurer and has held the position of vice‑president of the International Test & Evaluation Association (ITEA), WSMR Chapter.
Truly active in the local community, Mr. Martinez has served on the El Paso Water Utilities, Public Service Board (PSB) in various positions (2003-2010, Chairman 2010). He also served on the UTEP Alumni Board (2005-2011, President, 2009-0210), the UTEP Mechanical Engineering Industry Advisory Committee (IAC), the UTEP School of Engineering Advisory Board (EAB), and was on UTEP Centennial Commission. He was the ex-officio representing White Sands in the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (EPHCC) Board of Directors and the Hispanic Employment Program (HEP) Manager at White Sands Missile Range (collateral duty). To add to his list of accomplishments, Mr. Martinez has dedicated his service to the UTEP Miner Foundation Board, El Paso Hispanic Leadership Institute (HLI), the Sun Bowl Host Committee, and is a graduate of the Leadership El Paso, Class 14. He is currently on the Board of Directors for the Paso Del Norte Children’s Development Center (PdNCDC). Mr. Martinez is also active in his church as a past member of the Finance and Building Committees and is currently involved in several ministries.
Mr. Richard O. Martinez has been awarded multiple accolades. In 1994 he received the Medalla de Oro Award from MAES, the organization’s highest award. In 1999 he was given the Federal Hispanic Heritage Month Excellence Award, a leadership award presented to Mr. Martinez in Washington D.C. on September 15, 1999, by then-Secretary of Energy, Honorable Bill Richardson. In addition, he was awarded a community service award at the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Award Conference (HENAAC) on October 16, 1999, in El Paso, TX. A couple years later, Mr. Martinez was a 2001 McDonald’s Hispanos Triunfadores award recipient that recognizes El Pasoans for their inspiration as outstanding role models in the science category. In 2004, Mr. Martinez was awarded the Civilian Meritorious Award by the National Association of Hispanic Federal Employees (NAHFE) for outstanding leadership, commitment to excellence, and role model to Department of Defense (DOD) employees. He has also received three U.S. Army Medal of Service Awards and numerous other Letters of Achievement, special act, and performance awards throughout his career. In 2007, Mr. Martinez was named the recipient of the UTEP College of Engineering “Gold Nugget” award, which recognizes exceptional graduates from each of the university’s colleges and schools, who have distinguished themselves in their profession and life, given back to their communities and alma mater, all while serving as an inspiration for the future generations of Miners. Also, in 2007, MAES awarded him the Excelencia Award, which recognizes individuals representing the pinnacle of business management success. These recipients are distinguished for the breadth of overall business responsibilities, leadership and professionalism in job execution, contributions to business success, role models for personal and professional development, and involvement in the Latino community.
By far, Mr. Martinez’s most significant moment thus far was the day he married the former Gloria Salcido in 1979. Gloria retired from Freeport McMorran after 30 years of service. They have one son, Richard Oscar II, married to Celeste, two grandsons Richard Oscar III and Anthony Jose. Richard II is also a Graduate from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) with a B.S. in Mathematics and works at White Sands Missile Range as a Test Officer. The Martinez’s also having one daughter, Michelle Anne, who is married to Sammy Gutierrez (UTEP graduate). Michelle is employed by the San Antonio School District and is a UTSA graduate. They live in San Antonio, TX.