Marty Mahrt

“My Dream”
Words and music by Hank Fridell
with Mrs. Miller’s 5th Grade Class
©2010 Hank Fridell




      Marty Mahrt

Followed my parents to Custer in 1945
Pleasant Valley: a great place to be alive
Worked as a grease monkey, lettered in three sports
I met Colleen and her I did court

I knew when I saw that P-38
A fighter pilot wouldn’t it be great
If I could just be a part of that team
If I could just follow my dream

I followed my brother to Notre Dame
He joined the Air Force and along I came
My family followed me. What was in store?
I followed my country into war


A fighter pilot dropping bombs
I flew in combat in Vietnam
Shot down northwest of Hanoi
I was rescued, Joy oh Joy!


Retired and moved back to my hometown
Following my kids and grandkids around
Followed others footsteps so many times
Maybe now someone will follow in mine


Marty Mahrt was born in Rapid City on November 6, 1933. He moved with his family to Custer while in elementary school. He didn’t remember having many toys and if he did they were secondhand from his brother or sister. When he was a little boy he saw a P-38 fly over and he decided he wanted to fly someday. While in high school he enjoyed sports and lettered in football, basketball, and track. He also worked for his dad and earned 50 cents an hour as a “grease monkey.”

Marty followed in his older brother’s footsteps and went to college at Notre Dame. He graduated, returned home, and married his high school sweetheart Colleen Wood. And once again Marty followed his brother but this time into the Air Force. Marty realized his childhood dream, and became a fighter pilot.

He served in the Air Force for 29 years. He was stationed throughout the United States and also in Okinawa, Thailand, Saigon, and the Philippines. While serving our country his family expanded to include 4 daughters and 1 son.

One of the most important things that happened to Marty was during the Vietnam War. He was bombing an ammunition storage area when he was shot down and had to eject from his F-105, deep in enemy territory, near the Red River in North Vietnam. Fortunately within a few hours a rescue helicopter and cover planes arrived. During the rescue, three MIG’s made passes at the helicopter and fired missiles but the missiles seemed to run out of thrust.

As a pilot he has logged about 4500 hours of flight time in a half-dozen different planes. He has flown twice the speed of sound. He also helped establish a training simulation called Red Flag. It creates a simulated combat situation for pilots and other military personnel.

When Marty retired he returned to Custer and actually lives in the house he grew up in. He has fourteen horses that he feeds and cares for on the ranch. He continues to enjoy sports playing golf with his family and rooting for the Fighting Irish. Marty said now his goals are for his children and grandchildren. He and his wife frequently visit their family in Nevada, Minnesota, North Carolina, and right here in Custer.

Marty left us with a few things to think about. He told us to do our schoolwork and that an education was really important. He also advised us to set goals and not the short ones but long term goals. Marty Mahrt is an amazing man and we want to thank him for taking the time to talk with us and share his story.

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