UCF Knight to U.S. Air Force Colonel

Colonel David Martinson Bio Photo

Colonel David J. Martinson, ’92, was commissioned in the Air Force after graduating with his B.A. in political science and history from UCF in 1992.

Twenty-three years later, Colonel Martinson has been honored with many medals, awards, and degrees. His current responsibilities are as the Air Force’s senior space and cyberspace intelligence officer at the Pentagon. He is the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s primary contact on space-based Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance systems operations. Previously he commanded an Air Force intercontinental ballistic missile squadron and served as the director of Iraq’s Secret Service equivalent in Baghdad.


Colonel Martinson in Baghdad – 2007

When asked to share his most memorable experience on the job, Colonel Martinson said, “I have been in the Air Force since 1992. There are volumes of memorable experiences that I am proud to have had the privilege to participate in. Leading America’s sons and daughters has provided most of those memorable experiences. Commanding America’s best intercontinental ballistic missile squadron was definitely a career highlight. And successfully accomplishing a tour in Baghdad where I served as the director of Iraq’s Secret Service equivalent. These are experiences of a lifetime.”


Colonel Martinson explained how his bachelor’s degree from UCF provided a foundational understanding of complex environments and relationships that shape and effect world events.

He continued to share his memories of UCF, along with advice for current students and alumni.

 Why did you choose to attend UCF?

I applied to UF, FSU, and UCF and was accepted by all three. UCF was still a fairly new institution in 1986, especially compared with the other two schools. UCF did a good job highlighting the advantages to attending and the Air Force ROTC detachment commander took time to meet with me before I was accepted and persuaded me to choose UCF.

 How has your UCF degree helped you in your career?

 A bachelor’s degree is required to be a commissioned officer in the United States armed forces. So, the degree was an entry requirement. My bachelor’s degree has provided a foundational understanding of complex environments and relationships that shape and effect world events.

Were you involved in any extracurricular activities at UCF?

 I was heavily involved in student government and held positions in all three branches. Additionally, my experiences in Lambda Chi Alpha and Air Force ROTC taught me valuable leadership lessons that prepared me to lead in the Air Force.

Colonel Martinson (right) in Baghdad – 2007

 Have you stayed involved with UCF since graduation? If so, how?

 I have twice visited the Air Force ROTC detachment since graduation and interacted with our future Air Force leaders. I was invited to be a guest speaker to UCF’s Engineering Leadership and Innovation Institute in February and have also been in contact with UCF’s Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence. There are future possibilities for collaboration there.

 What is your best UCF memory?

 There are many “best” memories from UCF. It is difficult to identify just one. I think the lifetime friendships and relationships I have cultivated from my time and experience at UCF is what I am most grateful for.

 What is your favorite thing about your job?

Every day we are given the opportunity to sign our name to history. I see remarkable Americans doing incredible things in the most challenging of environments.

What piece of advice would you give to current students as well as UCF alumni?

Keep things in perspective. It is easy to get frustrated and become defeated when you lose perspective. Fight through that and take stock of the positive things that may help you overcome adversity.

Now for some fun! Colonel Martinson answered some fun questions to help us get to know him better.

What do you do for fun?

I ride my 2005 Harley Davidson Softail Deluxe for fun. It is actually therapeutic.

 What is the happiest and/or proudest moment of your life?

 The birth of my daughter of course ranks as the happiest moment of my life. She will be transferring to UCF as a junior this fall.

If you were stranded on a desert island, besides the necessities, what three items (not people) would you want with you?

 Besides the necessities for survival, the three items I would want with me are; a photo of my family to inspire hope while I awaited rescue, a good book to read to help pass the time, and a camera to document the experience.

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