Martin "Ray" Hertz received his Bachelor's degree in chemical engineering and a Master's degree in bacteriology from Iowa State University. In 1941, Hertz entered the United States Air Force as an aeronautical engineer maintaining B-25 bombers fighting the German submarine menace in the Atlantic Ocean. He then was trained to fly B-25 and B-17 bombers and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after leading missions over Germany.
After the close of the war, Hertz joined Mound Laboratory in January, 1948. There, Hertz was placed in the Source Group and was tasked with making neutron sources using the polonium-alpha-beryllium reaction. Hertz took over the Source Group in 1965, where he remained until 1982.