ONE ON ONE: Football Star, Green Beret Getting Boot for Standing up for Afghanistan Boy

"One On One" Sean Walsh Sports Editor

“One On One”
Sean Walsh
Sports Editor

A bruising, 235-lb. fullback at Milton High School and then at Northfield Mount Herman, Charles Martland went on to play football for the Florida State Seminoles for the legendary Bobby Bowden back in 2003 and 2004.

He then made the rare decision to become a Green Beret with the United States Army Special Forces.

On his second tour in Afghanistan, the former Bay State Conference All-Star did yet another rare thing and stood up for an Afghan boy and his mother after the boy had been raped by a U.S. Military-trained Afghan police commander and the boy’s mother had been beaten for reporting it.

Sgt. First Class Charles Martland allegedly intervened and shoved the police commander to the ground and he has paid a heavy price no man should pay for making a moral decision to stand up for what’s right.

The “involuntary discharge” of this Bronze Star recipient has now caught the attention of Congress.

It should catch all of our attention. It should spark incredible outrage that this true AMERICAN HERO is being shown the door for standing up for what’s right.

Can you imagine enduring the brutal training it takes to become a Green Beret, successfully becoming one, serve two tours in one of the most God-awful, war-torn, desolate places on the planet, stick up for a 12-year-old boy and his mother and then be shown the door by the country you love and swore an oath to give your life to?

Former Milton High School football star Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland of the United States Army Special Forces will be "involuntarily discharged" on November 1 for standing up for a 12-year-old boy and his mother. Photo courtesy of

Former Milton High School football star Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland of the United States Army Special Forces will be “involuntarily discharged” on November 1 for standing up for a 12-year-old boy and his mother.
Photo courtesy of

The success story that was Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland – running for touchdowns for Milton High School and then Northfield Mount Herman and then, of all places, Florida State – should not end this way.

The decision to shove a decorated American soldier to the wayside smacks of spineless bureaucracy and ineptitude at its very core and at the very least is a glaring example that there is something unconscionably wrong with the way our Nation’s bravest people are, more often than not, treated.

Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland ostensibly wanted nothing more than to continue to serve as a Green Beret. With a chest full of medals, how can our country afford NOT to have him do so?

Men like Martland do not grow on trees any more than $100 bills do.

Men like Martland are SUPPOSED to stand up for people and in particular, 12-year-old boys and their mothers, whether they are from Saigon or the Kunduz Province or Milton, Massachusetts.

The very future of our Nation teeters in the balance of existence when such mindless, insipid, wasteful and quite painful decisions are made to hurl such men into the flames of “doing things by the book.”

If the decision to give Sgt. 1st Class Martland the “involuntary” boot was made by some pencil-toting narcissist whose entire existence is corralled inside some petty little box, then Congress, indeed, should step in now and re-instate Martland and while they are at it, promote him and give him back-pay.

They should do so because men like Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland do not exist inside a square, tiny universe wearing unblemished, starched camoflauge fatigues. Men like Sgt. 1st Class Martland exist in a world where right is right and where we all need to fight to protect that.

— Sports Editor Sean Walsh’s column “One on One” appears here weekly. His email is [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @coachwalshccbm

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  1. Katherine Slocum says

    Why isn’t this story front page in every newspaper in the country!!! Will Fox News be the only one to broadcast it??

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