Fiction Meets Real Life

Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. After twenty-plus years of marriage, she and her hunky hero husband have a full life with their children, a Maltese Menace, and a retired military working dog in Northern Virginia. She can be found at, on Facebook (, Twitter (@roniekendig), Goodreads (, and Pinterest (!

Ronie’s upcoming release, Falcon, received 4.5 stars from RT Book Reviews: Kendig blows away fans…Falcon is a must-read!  

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Kendig’s Quiet Professionals Series
each cover features a real military hero

My goal as a writer of inspirational military fiction has always been to honor our military heroes and open dialogue. I’ve long wanted to feature men on my book cover who had served our country. That goal came to fruition with my most recent series, The Quiet Professionals, since the cover designer lived in Colorado Springs near a few military installations. For Raptor 6 , the model is a Special Forces veteran with multiple deployments—just like the hero of the book itself. Hawk featured Air Force veteran Brent Gilley.

For Falcon, I started having problems finding the right veteran to pose. Enter friend, author, former Marine and uncover FBI agent, Bob Hamer. I asked Bob if he knew of anyone who might fit the role for Salvatore “Falcon” Russo. Bob said he had just the guy in mind—but would it be a problem if he was a double amputee?

I didn’t blink. “No way. It’d be an honor [to have him on the cover].”

So, it is my extreme honor to introduce Gabriel Martinez, a Marine and Purple Heart recipient. Those who would like to read more of Gabe’s amazing story can pick up Col. Oliver North’s (ret.) American Heroes: On the Homefront, which he wrote with Bob Hamer. Over the last 10 months, I’ve gotten to know the Martinez family, and they are a really amazing family.

Without further ado…

SGT Gabriel Martinez

Hi, Gabe! Thank you so much for taking the time to join us. Would you take a moment to share a little about yourself and your family with readers?

Well, my name is Gabe Martinez, I am 26 years old, and a native to Colorado. I retired from the Marine Corps in May of 2012 with my wife and daughter, and planted us in Parker, CO. I value God, Country, Corps, and family; I spend most of my time with my family and friends. I am an avid hunter, athlete, outdoorsman, and a country boy at heart. I love my family, guns, horses, diesel trucks, tractors, huntin and most of all ‘Merica! Haha

Why did you join the Marines?

I joined the Marines to be a part of our country’s most elite fighting force, part of the great legacy and tradition of being a United States Marine, and of course, be of great service to my Country. I knew I wanted to something “out of the norm” after high school, and it’s not that I didn’t want to go to college right away, I just wanted to spend some time figurin’ out who I was, and no better way to see what kind of a man I am, then to join the Marines.

CCI ad with PetSmart 
featuring Gabe and Wonka

I was so surprised one day to see an ad for Canine Companions for Independence—and recognize the featured hero! Would you share a little about your 4-legged companion?

Well, luckily, I ended up with such a handsome hound, that CCI decided they wanted his face on an ad or two, and I just so happened to be his owner, so they threw me in the pic as well. His name is Wonka, he is a cross between a Labrador and a Golden retriever. He’s about as loyal as they get, and as emotional, too! CCI did a fantastic job of training him into the professional he is today, with the ability to perform over 60 tasks to be of service to me, physically and emotionally if/when I need it. He (and my wife) taught me that being independent doesn’t mean you gotta be alone.

As a Marine, you made sacrifices daily, being away from loved ones to serve on the front lines of a vicious war, then you paid a very high sacrifice the day you were injured. You’ve also championed and encouraged others who are dealing with injuries or who have lost limbs. This powerful statement about you is written in American Heroes: “He refused to relax into death; he was going to fight to live.” What motivates and inspires you as a person, as a warrior?

Hmmm… I’d say what motivates me is when someone tells me I can’t do something. I’ve always (or at least, mostly) tried to be someone who doesn’t accept the challenges of life; someone that falls down and gets up to deny failure.

Life isn’t always cupcakes ’n rainbows, and tough times will come, but tough times don’t define you, they refine you. 

Often, I have readers ask how they can help our wounded warriors. Could you offer a suggestion or two?

The Semper Fi Fund and the America’s Fund. They have been a Godsend to myself, my family, and each and every other wounded service member that I know. The Semper Fi Fund helps wounded, ill and injured Marines and any branch that was in operational support of Marines. The Americas fund was recently developed by the exact same wonderful folks, because their hearts could not just help Marines, they wanted to help everyone, thus the America’s Fund. They provide everything from emotional support to financial support; they’ve got everything covered.

(Semper Fi article with Gabe and Marine buddy Corporal Jason Gaertner here!)

Gabe, Madelynn, & Kayla in the
foyer of their new home

In North’s American Heroes, you said, “Knowing God has given me a second chance leaves little room to complain about anything.” You’ve had a challenging time the last several years, yet you have a beautiful new blessing as well—your daughter. Could you tell us about her?

My daughter! Her name is Madelynn Grace Martinez; currently she is 2 ½ years old. She’s every bit of my attitude, and luckily, every bit of my wife’s looks; she’s a perfect blend of rugged and classy! She is my country girl princess.

What is one of the most memorable moments of the last two or three years for you?

Aside from the birth of our daughter, I’d say moving into our new home that was built by Homes For Our Troops. The past few years have just been an outpouring of blessings received and lessons learned.

Okay, one last question so you can get back to your beautiful bride and daughter—for the cover or Falcon, the cover designer KirkDouPonce had to transform your tough Marine self/uniform into that of a Special Forces soldier. Tell me honestly, Gabe—have you forgiven me yet?

Well, although the wound still stings a bit, haha, I forgive you. My two closest friends back home are Army cats, and as much crap as they wanna give me, I tell ’em, although the Army base is right there, they just knew that a soldier of that caliber or class did not exist! Semper Fi!

Thank you for forgiving me. 🙂

In sincerity, Gabe, thank you for sharing a piece of your story with us today, for being willing to pose as the cover model for Falcon, but most importantly, thank you for your courageous service to our country. Personally, I am grateful for heroes like you. Also, thank you to your beautiful wife for the sacrifices she has made as she has stood alongside her warrior.

Readers – We would love to hear your thoughts about this article. Or perhaps you, too, just want to thank Gabe and other military heroes for their service. If so, please leave a comment!

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Falcon releases May 1, 2015. Preorder Falcon now! 

Special Forces operator Salvatore “Falcon” Russo vowed to never again speak to or trust Lieutenant Cassandra Walker after a tragedy four years ago. But as Raptor closes in on the cyber terrorists responsible for killing two of their own, Sal must put his life—and the lives of his teammates—in her hands. Despite his anger, Cassie is ill-prepared for his resistance and the fallout when she must protect the one asset who can end the attacks. As allies become enemies and hostiles become unlikely partners, Raptor fights for its very existence.

SALE!!! The first two books in Ronie’s Quiet Professionals series and the 3-in-1 A Breed Apart (three novels in one book!) are all on sale through April for only $1.99 each!