Thomas Brock Maertens did not find the Infantry...it found him. He was born into the Army and the 20th Infantry Regiment at Chilkoot Barracks in Haines, AK. He was the son of Colonel Kameil and Nelle Edwards Maertens, so Tom spent his youth as an “Army brat.” His father was a distinguished marksman and competed on the Army and Infantry Rifle teams for years. Thus Tom spent many enjoyable summers on the shores of Lake Erie while his father competed at Camp Perry, OH. He graduated from Columbus High School in Columbus, GA, and attended Millard’s Preparatory School in Washington, DC, before entering the Academy in 1942.
Tom’s father, a native Belgian who had fought in World War I, wanted his three sons to attend West Point, and they did. Unfortunately, Kameil was killed in a military aircraft accident when Tom was a Yearling at Camp Popolopen [now Camp Buckner]. Continuing the tradition, Tom became a member of the Rifle Team. It was during a summer assignment at Camp Stewart, GA, for anti-aircraft training that he met his future wife, Carrie Brooks (CB) Miller of nearby Hinesville. As the story goes, they met on a “sandwich date” with good friend Bill Ochs.
After the Infantry Officers Basic Course, Tom was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division in Japan for occupation duty. The highlight of this tour of duty was his marriage to CB twice! In order for CB to become a legal dependent, they were married by telephone in June of 1946. Finally, on 8 Feb 1947, they were married—again—in the Quonset hut chapel at Camp King. The ceremony, with all the details, was arranged by Rosanne and Jock McQuarrie, a classmate and enduring friends.
Tom’s distinguished military career included additional overseas assignments to Korea, Okinawa, and Viet Nam, where he earned the Silver Star for gallantry in action as a battalion commander with the 1st Infantry Division. Other assignments included six years with the Army General Staff at the Pentagon; service on the faculty at the Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, KS; completion of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Ft. McNair, DC; a tour as a brigade commander at Ft. Jackson, SC; and his selection to be the chief of staff of the U.S. Army in Alaska. This was a real highlight, as he returned to his birthplace after an absence of 46 years. He and CB spent two wonderful years on America’s Last Frontier and traveled throughout Alaska. He was honored to be inducted into the Pioneers of Alaska at a ceremony in Nome.
In addition to the Silver Star, Tom’s country also awarded him three Legions of Merit, four Bronze Stars, the Meritorious Service Medal, two Air Medals, and five Army Commendation Medals. The Republic of Viet Nam awarded Tom three Crosses of Gallantry and the Honor Medal First Class. He also earned the Combat Infantryman and Parachutist Badges.
His final military assignment came in 1972, as the Professor of Military Science at Clemson University in South Carolina, where he succeeded his brother, COL George Maertens, Jan ’43. This final PCS and retirement in 1975 set the stage for a wonderful phase of life on beautiful Lake Keowee.
Tom had received his MS in Management at the University of Alabama in 1962. After retirement, he joined the management faculty in the School of Business and Commerce at Clemson University, retiring in 1984 as an Assistant Professor Emeritus of Management.
After retirement, Tom was very active in both the Seneca and the Clemson communities through his participation in many civic organizations. As an Eagle Scout, he served on the Executive Board of the Blue Ridge Council of the Boy Scouts of America and was awarded the prestigious Silver Beaver award for his dedication to the principles of Scouting. He was a member of the American Legion Post 120 in Seneca and was credited with establishing the Keowee Chapter of the Military Officers Association. Tom was the Senior Warden of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Clemson and served as a licensed lay reader for the parish.
Tom was most proud of his service to the Clemson Rotary Club, which he joined in 1972. He served as the Club President during 1979–80 and was made a Paul Harris Fellow in 1982. The highlight of his Rotary service was his selection to serve as Governor of District 775 during 1986–87.
CB and their three children, Tommy, Buddy and Alice, shared Tom’s wonderful journey through life. His four grandchildren also brought joy. Tom once said that his sons paid him the highest compliment by choosing to become career Army officers. West Point had a profound effect on Tom’s life. Like so many other members of the Long Gray Line who distinguished themselves in many diverse fields of endeavor, Tom, throughout his life, exemplified the ideals of West Point: “Duty, Honor, Country.” He was respected by his soldiers and students; revered by his peers, and loved and admired by his family. His charm, his love of people, and his love of life will be imbued in our hearts and memories forever.
—Tom Maertens, Jr., ’70, son
- Class of 1945
- Ms. Lillian T. Elkey
- Ms. Alice W. Gatsis
- MSG Kenneth M. Hamill
- LTC (R) and Mrs. Thomas B. Maertens Jr. Ph.D. '70
- Mr. and Mrs. Michael W. Mahan '70
- Dr. Hildegard Manitsas
- Mr. and Mrs. Claude M. McQuarrie III '72
- Mr. Andrew M. Watkins
- Mr. Joseph L. White