Remembering a Veteran Terp: Colonel Martin Jordan “Stormy” Sexton

This Veteran’s Day, University Archives would like to remember a very special and inspirational Terp. Martin Jordan Sexton arrived at College Park in the Fall of 1937 and left behind quite a story in 1941, only to be outshined by his long-lasting career in the United States Marine Corps. Sexton was a leader on the lacrosse field at Maryland and as a Marine, and proved to be an inspiration to a very wide array of people over the course of his life.

Jordan, which he was more commonly referred to in the yearbooks, entered the University of Maryland as an engineering major and part of ROTC. He was also a member of the freshman lacrosse team. After a few trying semesters Jordan found his niche in the Education department. He excelled in history and social studies courses, and soon he became much more involved in student life activities.

Jordan “Smiley” Sexton, 1939 Varsity Lacrosse

In 1939, Jordan Sexton pledged and became a brother of Kappa Alpha fraternity on campus. That same year he joined the varsity lacrosse team, and quickly became one of the best players on the team. By 1940, he was a standout, playing alongside Billy Cole, another famous Terp from that era. In 1940, Sexton had started out playing defense, but his speed and handling skills got him shifted into the midfield. He earned his first “M” from this season as well. Outside of athletics, Sexton was also a member of the Latch-key club, which helped welcome teams from other schools on campus when they came to play at Maryland, served as the junior basketball manager, and was a member of the Men’s League.

1941, Jordan’s would-be senior year (he did not graduate), was by far his most notable year as a member of the varsity lacrosse team. Anyone paying attention to Maryland Lacrosse knew Sexton’s name.  In July 1941, he was selected as one of five men from Maryland for the nation’s All-American teams.

Jordan “Smiley” Sexton, 1940 Varsity Lacrosse

In August 1941, Sexton, who would later be nicknamed “Stormy,” enlisted in the US Marine Corps for what would become a very, very successful 25-year military career. When the United States entered World War II following Pearl Harbor, Corporal Sexton was stationed at Parris Island as a drill instructor. He became a second lieutenant just a year later. “Stormy” became a capable and inspirational leader, serving in a position of command through three wars – World War II in the Pacific, Korea, and Vietnam. His excellence as a battalion commander was recognized in 1962 when Stormy was featured in an article in Life Magazine, where his men referred to him as “the best battalion commander in the Marines.”

Eventually Colonel Sexton was appointed the Chief of Staff of the entire 4th Marine Division. Sexton was awarded several medals: the Silver Star for his help in recapturing Guam during WWII, the Legion of Merit, three Bronze Stars, and a Purple Heart. He was stationed in Italy between Korea and Vietnam.

Stormy Life Magazine
Colonel “Stormy” Sexton, featured in Life Magazine

Stormy Sexton retired from the Marines in 1970, and he became a high school coach and teacher in Oceanside, California. There he became a champion tennis coach, winning several championships and over 500 matches. Sexton was also an instructor for the Marine Corps Junior ROTC in Oceanside for nine years.

Stormy Sexton passed away in June of 1999, at the age of 81. He is remembered today by the Marine Corps in quite a unique and special way. In September 2002, a study alcove was created and dedicated in Colonel Sexton’s name at the General Alfred M. Gray Marine Corps Research Center Archives and Libraries at Quantico, VA. The alcove is decorated with several features to “portray his lasting influence and impact on so many individuals taught, led, coached, and inspired by him.” You can read about Colonel Sexton, the alcove, and where it’s located here.

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