It is with deep regret I inform you of the passing of Rear Admiral Richard Anthony “Dick” Martini, U.S. Navy (Retired) on 31 January 2022 at age 90. Rear Admiral Martini was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1954 and served as a patrol squadron aviator until his retirement in 1984 as director of the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Division in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. His commands include Patrol Squadron TWO FOUR (VP-24), Patrol Squadron THREE ZERO (VP-30), Patrol Wing ELEVEN, and Iceland Defense Force/Fleet Air Keflavik.
After attending the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, in the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) program and earning a bachelor of science in geography, Dick Martini was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve on 4 June 1954. He reported for active duty on 26 July 1954 at Naval Aviation Basic Training School, Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola. He was promoted to lieutenant (junior grade) in December 1955 and was designated a naval aviator (HTA) on 24 January 1956 at NAS Hutchinson, Kansas. In April 1956, Lieutenant (j.g.) Martini reported to Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) Corry Field as a flight instructor in the T-28 trainer. He trained student naval aviators at both Corry Field and then NAS Whiting Field, Florida. In August 1957, he reported to Naval Aviation Technical Training Center (NATTC) at NAS Memphis for duty under instruction at Aviation Electronics Officers School. He augmented into the active-duty Navy in August 1957.
Promoted to lieutenant in March 1958, he then reported that June to the Naval Justice School at Naval Station Newport as a student. In August 1958, he reported to Patrol Squadron SIX (VP-6) at NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii, flying the P2V-5FS (redesignated SP-2E in 1962) Neptune ASW aircraft, and deploying to Japan and various Pacific islands. In July 1961, Lieutenant Martini was assigned to Fleet Air Wing TWO as the staff assistant ASW officer. In December 1962, Martini reported to Air Development Squadron ONE (VX-1) at NAS Key West as project officer and project pilot for the P-3A Orion and SP-2H Neptune ASW aircraft. He was promoted to lieutenant commander in September 1963.
In August 1965, Lieutenant Commander Martini reported to the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, graduating in February 1966 and subsequently reporting to Patrol Squadron THIRTY (VP-30) Fleet Replacement Squadron for refresher training. In May 1966, Martini reported to Patrol Squadron TEN (VP-10) at NAS Brunswick, Maine, serving successively as safety officer, operations officer, executive officer and officer-in-charge (OIC) Argentia, Newfoundland, Detachment. He deployed with the squadron to Iceland, the Azores, Newfoundland, Spain, and Bermuda. VP-10 was awarded a Meritorious Unit Citation. He was promoted to commander in March 1968.
In September 1968, Commander Martini reported as Executive Officer to Patrol Squadron TWO FOUR (VP-24) at NAS Patuxent River, where it had transitioned to the new P-3B Orion maritime patrol aircraft. In December 1969, Martini assumed command of VP-24 (the 29th commanding officer), deploying to Iceland and the Azores for North Atlantic ASW operations, including during the massive world-wide Soviet naval exercise Okean 70, by far the largest Soviet naval exercise to that date. VP-24 was awarded a Naval Unit Commendation and a Meritorious Unit Commendation. Martini was awarded a Legion of Merit. In November 1970, he reported to the Department of the Navy in Washington, DC, to the Office of Program Appraisal as assistant chief, Program Administration and Appraisal Division. In August 1972, Commander Martini assumed command of VP-30 at NAS Patuxent River. He was promoted to captain in July 1973.
In October 1973, Captain Martini reported to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, DC, as P-3C program coordinator in the Aircraft and Weapons Requirements Branch. In February 1975, Captain Martini assumed command of Patrol Wing ELEVEN (VP-11) at NAS Jacksonville, just in time for the next big Soviet world-wide naval exercise, Okean 75. In September 1976, Martini reported to the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters, Washington, D.C., as deputy manager of the ASW Systems Project in the ASW Systems Project Office. In August 1978, he was designated a rear admiral for duty in a billet commensurate with that rank.
In August 1978, Rear Admiral Martini assumed command of the Iceland Defense Force (a NATO and U.S. Sub-Unified Command), with additional duty as Commander Fleet Air Keflavik, Commander Iceland Sector ASW Group, and Commander Fleet Air Wing North Atlantic. He was promoted to rear admiral on 1 July 1979.
In August 1981, Rear Admiral Martini reported to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, DC, as director of the Aviation Programs Division (OP-51.) In August 1982, he assumed duty as director of the ASW Division (OP-951) with additional duty in Naval Material Command as manager, ASW Systems Project Office (PM-4.) Rear Admiral Martini retired on 1 September 1984.
Rear Admiral Martini’s awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit (at least one), Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, and National Defense Service Medal.
Following retirement from active duty, Martini continued to serve as a program manager in the applied research and development industry. He embraced technology and innovation, contributing greatly to research development and advocacy of advanced technologies and naval capabilities. He enjoyed amateur radio, all things electronic, “RV’ing,” woodworking, reading, and listening to Pavarotti.
A celebration of life was held on 19 February with interment at Arlington National Cemetery at a date to be determined.
Rear AdmiraL Martini played a key role in the evolution, development, and operational employment of improved aerial anti-submarine warfare capability, bridging the transition from the older P-2 Neptune all the way to the far more capable P-3C Orion. In the 1960s and 1970s, this effort was almost entirely focused on the existential threat posed by Soviet submarines operating off both U.S. coasts in ever-increasing numbers and capability. The mission of U.S. Navy ASW aircraft was to locate, track, and hold at risk Soviet submarines before they could deliver nuclear Armageddon onto the United States or massive cruise missile or torpedo strikes against U.S. carrier and surface forces. It was a daunting task indeed, made more difficult by a number of Soviet technological surprises such as the titanium-hull Alpha-class nuclear attack submarine, the fastest and deepest-diving submarine produced. The two massive worldwide Soviet naval exercises, Okean 70 and Okean 75, demonstrated greatly increased Soviet capability to operate and conduct offensive strikes in every ocean area. Despite the difficulty of the mission, U.S. Navy ASW aircraft operating from places like Iceland, Newfoundland, and Adak, Alaska (as well as other more pleasant locales, such as Bermuda) had significant success in maintaining contact on Soviet submarines transiting the Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom (GIUK) gap and into the eastern Pacific. This forced the Soviets to develop submarines and missiles that could operate in defended “bastion” areas close to their own homeports and still reach the United States, but where they were a lesser threat to U.S. carriers, and little threat to U.S. or Allied convoys. In addition to operating against Soviet submarines, Rear Admiral Martini had multiple tours in establishing requirements and developing the multi-mission capability of U.S. ASW aircraft that ultimately made them the highly versatile aircraft that exist today. He had a significant role in bringing about the end of the Cold War, something for which the entire world should be grateful. His legacy lives on in the U.S. Navy maritime patrol community, and the U.S. Navy thanks him and his family for their sacrifice, and for his dedicated and distinguished service.
Rest in Peace, Admiral Martini.