Airman makes a name for himself on X Factor UK

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kate Maurer
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Young Airmen are stationed all over the world and when at their home station are usually given the freedom to be reclusive "dorm dwellers" or indulgent in the local community. One young Airman decided just eating local cuisine or making local friends wasn't enough -- he wanted to be famous.

Airman 1st Class Charlie Martinez, a 100th Force Support Squadron force management apprentice, tried out for and made it on the British television singing competition, X Factor United Kingdom.

The 20-year-old from Orlando, Florida, has only been in the Air Force for a year and as a force management apprentice he spends a lot of his time processing evaluations, awards, classifications and decorations for other Airmen -- putting them in the spotlight.

"I love singing!" exclaimed the Florida native. "And I wanted to finally get my face out there."

He arrived at RAF Mildenhall in January 2014 and his X Factor journey began just months later in April. Although it started as pure amusement, Martinez realized that if he was ever going to take his singing from the shower to the stage, he would need to do something about it.

"It's a long process," Martinez said. "It's probably a lot longer of a process than most people think."

Being in the military, Martinez had to start his X Factor process by making sure that everything he was doing, could do and could say was in the best interest of the Air Force, so the first step was to receive approval and media training from the 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs before even trying out. He then received much higher clearance and more training as he made it further and further in the competition.

"I even had to sing for my commander before she would let me go," Martinez said referring to the former 100th FSS commander, Lt. Col. April Dwyer.

He added that the process involves performing a series of auditions before ever seeing the on-TV judges.

"I got past phase one, then two, then boot camp," Martinez said. "And before I knew it, I was in the top 15 males of the whole competition."

Martinez said he couldn't have done it without the Air Force's help, referring to what he has learned in his time serving. One thing he pointed out was his sense of professionalism.

"I mean, I called Simon 'sir,'" Martinez recalled. "No one does that! Then he said 'You don't have to call me sir' to which I automatically replied 'Yes sir.'"

The Air Force also taught him to be resilient and to be confident in his craft. He said that this was a stressful journey and he couldn't have stuck through it while still performing his duties as an Airman if it wasn't for his family, friends, coworkers and squadron leadership supporting him all the way.

"This experience definitely helped me get out of my comfort zone," Martinez added. "I just want to thank the Air Force for building me up."

Aside from the nerves brought on from singing in front of four famous judges, thousands of people and TV cameras, the Airman mentioned the British culture was probably his biggest challenge. He said everyone else there seemed to know what the audience and judges wanted to hear but when he read the list of songs available to him for what ended up being his last round, he had to choose one of the few that he even knew of - "I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys. He was then voted off the show but kept a positive attitude.

Yet again he exercised his resiliency, saying that he stayed humble throughout the whole experience and if it was meant to be, it would've been.

"Everyone falls at some point but you just have to pick yourself back up," Martinez said.

He says it'd be worth looking into trying out for Tops in Blue, an all-active duty Air Force special band of entertainers, so he can incorporate his love for singing and the Air Force.

The Airman went from serving his country to representing it as he obtained a multitude of social media followers and is still spoken about as the American Airman that beautifully sang Enrique Iglesias' “Hero” in Spanish at his audition.