Air Force Veteran
Martha “Marti” Young Bigbie was born and raised in Aberdeen, South Dakota, a town built around the booming railroad systems of the 1880s. Sioux and Arikara Native Americans were the original inhabitants, and not until the 1820s did the white settlers begin to arrive. The majority of the settlers were farmers, and Marti’s grandparents and parents were among them, raising crops and various livestock. Marti, one of six children, was born on December 30, 1947. Her childhood, or lack of one, ended at age six, when she became the main caregiver to her younger siblings, as well as helping in the fields as the family struggled to make a living. Driving a horse-drawn plow and hay-turner as a young child is still a vivid memory for Marti, and as hard as life was during those years, her memories of it are fondly treasured.
After graduating in 1966 from Central High School in Aberdeen, Marti attended Northern State Teacher’s College for a year. One day Marti’s car broke down, and some good-hearted fellows stopped to help. It turned out they were Airmen, and she was so impressed by their kindness and professionalism that she decided that she wanted to “become just like them.” On August 4, 1968, Marti enlisted in the Air Force, and began her military duty.
After basic training at Lackland AFB, and PersonnelTraining at Amarillo AFB, Marti was assigned to Westover AFB in Springfield, Massachusetts. She would later be stationed at Wheeler AFB in Hawaii and lastly to Bolling AFB in Washington, D.C. As she advanced in her training as a Personnel Specialist, Marti became the first woman to work in “Assignments”, and participated in the “buddy system” when assigning airmen to and from their destinations.
While stationed in Hawaii, Marti recalls that she “had the distinctive privilege of being part of an Honor Guard for President Nixon’s wife, Pat, and daughter, Trish, while they were visiting Hickman AFB. I also had a lot of fun as a member of a group of extras that worked for the TV show “Hawaii Five-O”, which was filmed nearby.”
In February of 1970, while still stationed in Hawaii, Marti met the man who would become her husband, David Bigbie. As luck would have it, he was not a fellow-airman, but a Marine, who would soon be returning to Vietnam for his fourth tour. On August 29, 1970, they were married, and honeymooned on Maui. Later David was transferred to Bethesda Naval Hospital, and Marti to Bolling AFB in Washington, D.C. An embassy duty position became available that “they hoped they would be assigned to, but it didn’t work out for us.”
In 1973, after 22 ½ years David retired, and Marti was discharged from military service. She was a sergeant by this time, but they decided they wanted to focus on their private life together. Later, they both worked for Northrop Grumman in Pico Rivera, California, and after several years, they retired together. Eventually they left California and moved to Utah, making their home in Hurricane in 1994.
In 2009, Marti lost her husband, David, of 39 ½ years, and is now dedicating her time and compassion to the American Legion Lester Keate Post #90 in St. George, Utah. She serves as the President of the Ladies Auxiliary, and has just been named Chaplain of the Post.
Marti apparently has way more energy than most of us, and is becoming known as the “Jam Lady” in the Hurricane-Springdale area. “I make 54 different kinds of jams and jellies to sell at Zion Canyon Farmers Market.” You can find out all about Marti’s products by logging onto www.zionharvest.org, and click on vendors. Surely you’ll find a jam or jelly that you can’t resist from all her homemade spreads!
Thank you, Marti, for your selfless devotion to your country and comrades of the United States Armed Forces!
gift provided to the community
and our local heroes by Ted and Vivian Spilsbury