Kameil Maertens – Colonel, United States Army


I sent you a biography of Brigadier General Claudius Easley a few months ago and have had a surprising response from individuals that knew the General.  All were favorable.  Thanks for adding him in your Web site.  I have an additional range that is named after COLONEL KAMEIL MAERTENS here at Fort Benning. Colonel Maertens is also interned at Arlington.  If you have a chance we would like to submit the following biography on Colonel Maertens to your site.  Thanks for all your work.  Bob Aylward.


Colonel Maertens was born in 1896 at Knokke, Belgium. He immigrated to the United States on 26 January 1915 and began his distinguished military service with the Wisconsin National Guard.

Colonel Maertens, a distinguished Infantry officer, established himself as one of the Army’s top small arms experts during the 1930’s and early 40’s. As a member of the Weapons Department of the U.S. Army Infantry School, he was well known for his outstanding instruction in rifle, pistol, and bayonet.

During the 1920’s, he competed in the Northwestern Rifle and Pistol Matches at Fort George Wright, Washington State, and Fort Missoula, Montana, as well as the National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio. He was a team member, team coach, and in 1940, Captain of the U.S. Infantry Rifle and Pistol Teams who won National Championships.

Colonel Maertens’ many marksmanship awards and medals included three placements in the top ten of the U.S. National Individual Match and six President’s Hundred Bars. He earned the Distinguished Pistol Marksmanship medal in 1927 and in 1930 became a Distinguished Rifle Marksman.

From 1932-35, Colonel Maertens served with General of the Army (then Major) Omar Bradley in the Weapons Department of the Infantry School. From 1935-36, Colonel Maertens attended the Army Command and General Staff School and, in 1939, the Army War College. During World War II, he served at Fort Benning on the Infantry Board and in Washington, D.C. as a member of the Inter-Allied Weapons Development Board.

Truly, Colonel Kameil Maertens was one of the Army’s great marksmen. His skill and professionalism provided the momentum necessary to carry the enthusiasm from the competition of the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s to the eventual formation at Fort Benning of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit in March of 1956.

Unfortunately, Colonel Maertens’ life was cut short on 30 June 1943 by the crash of an Army C-45 aircraft enroute from Fort Benning to Washington, D.C. The War  Department presented Colonel Maertens with one of the first Legion of Merit medals. Because his two distinguished medals were destroyed in the crash, the War Department presented two identical medals, complete with engraving, to his widow, Mrs. Kameil Maertens.

In terms of preparing soldiers for combat, marksmanship was Colonel Maertens’ greatest concern. He wanted all soldiers to be able to hit the target. He was a strong advocate of “…it’s the percentage of hits that counts” in combat.

Officers like Colonel Maertens and General Claudius Easley were pioneers of the competitive marksmanship program that had begun at Camp Perry in the 1920’s with teams from each military branch  – Infantry, Cavalry, Engineers, Coast Artillery, Field Artillery, as well as the Marine Corps – competing in shoulder-to-shoulder, national competition.

After 28 years of dedicated service to the Army and the nation, Colonel Kameil Maertens was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. General Omar Bradley served as a pallbearer.

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