Some people say it's ironic that SSgt. Stephen Martin died so close to a holiday that honors the freedoms he fought so hard to defend. On this 4th of July, people around the Northwoods area remembered Martin as one who gave back to others on many levels.
SSgt. Martin joined the Rhinelander Police Department as a patrolman in 1996. He was promoted to patrol sergeant earlier this year, just after his military activation.
Outside the Rhinelander Police Department, the flag is at half-staff, alongside the other flags lining the street for Independence Day. Local businesses also put up signs commemorating a hero to both Rhinelander and to the nation.
"It's one of those situations where we had a public servant, who decided to give his life to serve the people of the Rhinelander area, then gave his life to serve the people of his country," says Jim Mohr, a former circuit court judge in Vilas Co.
"Our sympathies are with [the family], our prayers are with them, which is most important," says Patrick Freeman, an Air Force veteran.
Many people echoed those sentiments, expressing their condolences to the Martin family and to the Rhinelander Police Department. In a news release, the Rhinelander Police Chief says this news has hit the department very hard, and Martin will be deeply missed in the community.