MARTHA Dixon loved life. She was an avid runner and a loving family member and friend, often combining running events with special visits. She had a laser sharp sense of humor. Professionally she was foremost a dedicated Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She was an active team member in many FBI operations, acquitting herself with honor and courage.
Martha graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1982 with a degree in Chemistry. Her professional career began at the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory in Little Rock, where she worked as a forensic chemist. She analyzed crime scenes for evidence and provided expert testimony on behalf of the State of Arkansas. Continuing education seminars at the FBI Academy in Quantico in forensic chemistry and evidence collection captured Martha's interest. The compelling concept of analyzing evidence for a federal law enforcement agency prompted her to apply to the FBI Academy. Martha soon learned that a minimum of 2 years duty as an agent was one of the requirements for placement in the FBI Crime Laboratory. She accepted the challenge and successfully completed agent training in 1987, whereupon she was assigned to the Knoxville, Tennessee Field Office.
From the beginning of her law enforcement career, Martha was a dedicated special agent. She pursued additional professional training at every opportunity, achieving qualification for high level technical surveillance and for the SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) team. Her SWAT team participated in the resolution of the uprising at the Talladega Federal Correctional Institution in August of 1991 by successfully executing a forced entry into the prison, which was overtaken by the prisoners. Martha was part of the front line of assault when the prison was taken back from the rioters, and was decorated for her bravery in that action.
After 5 years in Knoxville, Martha was transferred to the Washington, D.C. Field Office of the FBI (WMFO). She was eventually assigned to the Cold Case Homicide Task Force to work with the Washington, D.C. Metro Police on old unsolved cases. Since this transfer moved her closer to Headquarters, the home of the FBI Crime Lab, Martha was considering returning to forensics work. Just prior to her death Martha was chosen to help pioneer a special group on evidence collection at WMFO. The unit is now functioning and called the Martha Dixon Martinez Evidence Response Team.
Awards and Recognition
The 2006 Outstanding Mount Lebanon High School Alumni Award, Awarded September 29, 2006
This award was conceived in 2004 by Mount Lebanon (PA) High School Students as a means of providing inspiration for the students by recognizing the life achievements of its alumni. Martha (class of 1977) shares this distinct honor with a select few other notable and famous alumni of Mount Lebanon High School.
The FBI Pittsburgh Field Office, Dedicated November 20, 2001
The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Field Office of the FBI was named The Martha Dixon Building in honor of Martha's hometown roots (Mount Lebanon is a suburb bordering the City). A ceremony was held at which FBI Director, Robert Mueller spoke in honor of Martha's accomplishments and sacrifice.
The FBI Memorial Star, Awarded May 21, 1995 by FBI Director Louis Freeh
FBI Director Louis Freeh presented the award to Martha's parents and husband with the following inscription on the plaque:
In honor of Special Agent Martinez who made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and all of humanity while working on the Cold Case Squad at the District of Columbia's Metropolitan Police Department Headquarters. On November 22, 1994, when Agent Martinez responded to gunfire in the Cold Case Squad area, a confrontation ensued, in which she was fatally wounded. The heroic actions of Agent Martinez prevented the possibility of even greater loss of life and serious injury to other law enforcement officials and citizens within the building. This special recognition is presented in Agent Martinez's memory and in tribute to her performance which was in the highest traditions of the FBI.
The FBI Commendation for Meritorious Service, Awarded August of 1991
For meritorious service in the rescue of hostages from a ten day standoff with Cuban detainees in the Talladega Federal Correctional Institute, Talladega, Alabama, after the Cuban inmates took all the guards of their pod hostage and threatened to kill the guards unless their demands were met. After training for several days blindfolded, a night raid was conducted by Martha's SWAT Team out of Knoxville, TN, and others from around the region. The raid was so successful not a shot was fired and no serious casualties resulted, while all hostages were rescued. It is considered to this day one of the finest raids the FBI ever conducted in a hostage situation.
The FBI Medal of Valor, Awarded May 21, 1995 by FBI Director Louis Freeh
The Director awarded this for an exceptional act of heroism which occurred in the direct line of duty in the face of a criminal adversary. This act also involved the voluntary risk of personal safety and life.
Other tributes to Martha’s heroic life and death include:
— Law Enforcement Memorial Wall, Located in Judiciary Square in downtown Washington, D.C., within sight of the Metro Police Station where she was killed, Martha's name is inscribed in the Memorial Wall, Panel 26E, Line 19.
— Knoxville FBI Field Office, Memorial plaque
— Washington Metro FBI Field Office, Memorial plaque
— Washington Memorial FBI Field Office, Memorial Lobby dedicated to the five fallen agents from WMFO
— FBI Hall of Honor, Quantico, VA, Connect to Hall of Honor
— The Michael John Buczek Medal of Honor “The Michael John Buczek Medal of Honor is awarded for any act intelligently performed and in the line of police duty, which demonstrates an act of gallantry and valor at imminent personal hazard to life with the knowledge of the risk, which was above and beyond the call of duty.”
— The FBI Agents Association’s J Edgar Hoover Memorial Award for Valor
— Attorney General’s Award for Bravery, 1995