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Called to go, a second time

By STEVE BOUSQUET, Times Deputy Capitol Bureau Chief
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 22, 2003

[Times photo: Cherie Diez]
Kristie Ortiz and her mother, Carolyn Martin.
Max R. Stover

ST. PETERSBURG - The U.S. Army Reserve Center on Beach Drive is named for Max R. Stover.

But as the years go by, fewer and fewer people know the story of the young man from Pinellas County who was a hero in two wars.

He was born in St. Petersburg and enlisted in the Marines in 1943, the year he graduated from St. Petersburg High School. He was wounded in action in World War II on Saipan and was awarded the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster.

That sacrifice would have been more than enough.

But Stover, after getting his degree in pharmacy at the University of Florida and receiving a commission as an Army second lieutenant, was called to active duty and went to Korea. He was killed on "Triangle Hill," one of Korea's deadliest battlegrounds, on Oct. 16, 1952.

Among 1st Lt. Stover's many posthumous honors were the Distinguished Service Cross and the Chingmu Medal, a Korean award for bravery.

The reserve center was dedicated in 1958.

After Max's death, his wife, Carolyn, raised their baby daughter alone. The baby that Max Stover hardly knew, Kristie Ortiz, is now 51 years old. She recently moved back to St. Petersburg to start a job as a teacher at Thurgood Marshall Middle School.

"I have no conscious memories of my dad," said Ortiz, who has her father's medals. "I was a year old when he died. I've just had to rely on stories."

Max's wife, Carolyn Martin, still lives in St. Petersburg.

To this day, she's not sure what her husband's sacrifice in Korea accomplished.

"I don't know what it was all about. In view of the situation now, I don't think it accomplished a great deal," she said.

"Max was very patriotic, as we all were at this time," she said. "He left high school early to be in the Marines. He served his country. I think we would have preferred that he didn't go the second time."

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