October 21, 1924 – June 11, 2019
Mr. Earl Martin was born October 21, 1924 in Franklin, Louisiana. He served with the Army Air Corps as part of the Tuskegee Airmen. Earl entered the US Army Air Corps in 1942 at age 17. In 1945, after serving three years in the European Theater, MSgt Martin returned to the United States. Assigned to Chanute Field in Rantoul, Illinois, he received specialized training and served as a Crew Chief on the Billy Mitchell B-25 (Medium) Bomber, Martin B-26 Marauder (Medium) Bomber, and AT-6 “Texan”. At Chanute, he met and worked with the All-Black 477th Bombardment Group (aka “Tuskegee Airmen”) on the B-25 aircraft. The war ended before the 477th could deploy overseas. In 1949, the year after President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981, leading to “desegregation” of the U. S. military, MSgt Martin relocated to Ellington Air Force Base, Houston, TX, becoming its first Black Crew Chief on the flight line working on B-25 and B-26 Bomber aircraft. During the Korean War, MSgt Martin received technical training as an Aviation Engineer Specialist and was relocated from Ellington AFB to Johnson Air Base in Japan, where he worked on all American radar type combat aircraft. After serving in the Far East, he was re-assigned to Hamilton AFB in California. He served as a Crew Chief on the Douglas C-47 military transport aircraft, including Crew Chief to Brigadier General Monro MacCloskcys’ personal aircraft, logging more than 4,000 flying hours, and numerous honors.
In the 1960’s, he relocated from Hamilton AFB to serve in the U.S. Missile Command at Sheppard AFB, TX. In his new vocation, maintaining ICBM missiles, he earned outstanding recognition for his service with the 577th Strategic Missile Squadron at Altus AFB, Oklahoma. On June 5, 1962, he was selected “Instructor of the Month” for the 3750 Technical (Missile) Training School at Sheppard AFB, TX and promoted to Master Sergeant. MSgt Earl Martin’s distinguished military career (spanning two decades) includes many honors and awards. Among them a Letter of Recognition for Exceptional Performance in the repair of a C-47, another for the repair of an Atlas Missile (Rocket) in record time.
After 24 years of active-duty service in three 3 wars (WWII, Korean and Vietnam), MSgt Earl Martin retired from the USAF, June 1, 1966.
In 2007, he received the highest civilian honor “collectively” bestowed the Tuskegee Airmen (a bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal). MSgt Martin was a longtime member of the Atlanta Chapter Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
Watch his interview “World War II Veteran Earl Martin – Private, Tuskegee Airmen | Georgia Oral History.” Mr. Martin remembers overcoming the racist attitudes of his white, superior officers. He recalls studying for and passing a test designed to keep African-Americans out of the cockpit, having to use the back door to the mess hall while POWs could use the front door, and running for his life after a friend of his was assaulted and murdered.