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CW2 Luis Rodriguez-Martinez is missing from Fort Bliss, Texas and may be the victim of foul play, his wife says. Maria Rodriguez-Martinez told by telephone from El Paso, Texas, that her husband vanished around 1600 hours, Wednesday, November 2, when he left a building on the Texas Army installation to drive to the Post courtroom to hear the verdict in his court-martial.

The veteran officer, who had been accused by the Army of being part of a drug smuggling ring, was facing 80 years in prison at Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks in Kansas. Rodriguez-Martinez, with an outstanding military record and the highest possible Officer Evaluation Reports (OER's) steadfastly maintained his innocence throughout the three-day trial.

His defense attorneys accused the Army of trying to railroad the officer on the basis of "guilt by association, innuendo, and false charges."

The chief warrant officer told when interviewed last week for a story on his ordeal, the Army was "retaliating" on him for refusing to testify against a fellow soldier. Rodriguez-Martinez said: "I cannot perjure myself. I will not lie to destroy another human being."

While he was under tremendous strain during the many months leading up to the trial, the warrant officer "was not suicidal" according to Cal Whittaker, a retired Army veteran and civilian worker at Fort Bliss.

"I was the last person to see him," Whittaker said. "He seemed determined to see it through. I know he got a call to come over and hear the verdict. But he didn't know what the verdict was before he left."

Whittaker said Rodriguez-Martinez was wearing his Army dress green uniform and was driving a red-colored automobile when he departed.

"My husband is in danger, but I can't get the local police or the MP's to search for him!" Maria Rodriguez-Martinez said. "He could die in some desolate place and they wouldn't care. The Army has persecuted us and we are in despair. Please ask people to pray for us and that my husband will be returned to me safe and sound."

When asked if her husband may have fled to Mexico, the chief's wife said he took no money or extra clothes with him and would not do that to his family. "My husband is a man of incredible courage and integrity." She said she is near a "complete breakdown" from the trauma of his disappearance.

"Maybe he was abducted, maybe they will find his body somewhere and the police or MPs can call it a "suicide," she said. Mrs. Rodriguez-Martinez said she was "deeply hurt" when someone from the Fort Bliss garrison called her home not long after her husband disappeared and matter-of-factly said: "Do you want a priest?"

"They were trying to infer that my husband was DEAD and I consider that mental torture of me!"

The weeping wife predicted "the truth will come out someday and the Army will be shown for what they are and why they treated my husband so cruelly. They have put us through a living hell."

A base spokesperson could not be reached for comment.


Nov. 4, 2000

El Paso, Tex. Police report a red car, belonging to missing CW2 Luis Rodriguez-Martinez, convicted Thursday on what his family contends are "trumped-up" drug charges, was discovered abandoned early Friday 10 miles north of Fort Bliss.

"The police and FBI told us there was no sign of Luis, although they found his Army cap and uniform jacket on the front seat of the car," his wife, Maria Rodriguez-Martinez told by telephone from Texas.

"They told us there was no sign of a struggle," she said. "My husband apparently did not leave a note or his wallet behind and he must still be wearing his glasses. I am afraid he may have been abducted and taken somewhere else."

The veteran Army warrant officer vanished Wednesday afternoon after he left a building on Fort Bliss to drive approximately one mile to the courtroom to hear his verdict handed down.

Rodriguez-Martinez, who has an outstanding military record and many commendations for his work as a personnel officer, "didn't seem suicidal" a co-worker Cal Whittaker told Whittaker was the last man to see the CW2 that day.

Not knowing the whereabouts or safety of her husband was just one of the agonies Maria Rodriguez-Martinez had to endure on Thursday as she and her son, Luis Rodriguez-Martinez Jr. went to the Fort Bliss courtroom to hear the verdict from Military Judge LTC Theodore Dixon.

During the three-day trial, Army defencthe warrant officer's wifee attorneys "went through the motions," according to Maria and contended that Rodriguez-Martinez was a victim of "guilt-by-association, innuendo, and false charges."

"The judge was cold and calculating," Mrs. Rodriguez-Martinez recalled. "He wouldn't even look in the direction where I was sitting with my son.

"As soon as he sentenced by husband in absentia to ten years in prison and loss of all pay and allowances, he happily congratulated the prosecution team for what I heard him say was "a job well done." This was only a few feet away from me! He knew that my heart was breaking and that I couldn't help but hear his words. I fought back the tears. I didn't want to give them that satisfaction."

But what came next shocked and stunned her even more.

"I couldn't believe it. Our so-called defense attorneys went over and shook hands and laughed with the prosecution team, just like the whole thing was a charade , a sick joke! They laughed and joked, and I wanted to sink right through the floor."

But the mental torture didn't end there.

"Right behind where we were seated, my son and I, we heard one enlisted soldier tell several of his buddies: 'So the chief gave 26 years to the Army, huh? Now the Army will take 26 years from him in Leavenworth! Ha! Ha!'

"I couldn't wait to get out of there. Those people were inhuman. Only one person was kind to us. A soldier I don't know sitting nearby seemed disgusted at the laughter and cruelty. I heard him tell a female soldier he was sitting next to: 'This is disgusting! Those guys carrying on like that in a courtroom. I think I'll complain to their NCO.'

"We don't know if he did, because we left soon after. "All I want is my husband home safe with me. We love him so much and I am very grateful for all the people across America who have been E-mailing us and praying for us," Rodriguez-Martinez said. Strangers have taken take pity on us in our suffering. But there is no pity from the Army."


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