The Army drafted Gerald Martin in June 1942. Despite weighing 15 pounds under the minimum, he joined the Army Air Forces and attended clerical and administration school at Fort Logan, Colo. After training, Martin went to Peterson Field to learn photo reconnaissance and mapping.
In March 1943, he was one of the first of ten enlisted men serving with the 6th Photo Reconnaissance and Mapping Group. Later, in September of the same year, Martin deployed overseas, first to Australia and then to New Guinea.
From New Guinea, Martin and his unit moved on to Leyte in the Philippines. Leyte received Japanese kamikaze pilots attacks. Martin witnessed one crash into a ship next to him. After the Allies captured Leyte, Martin moved on to Luzon and saw Manila in ruins. He then traveled to Okinawa and saw photos of post-bombing Hiroshima. Martin left the military shortly after.
When he returned home, Martin began a career in photography, showing pictures of his travels from around the world. He was also active with the Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum where he often talked on the importance of reconnaissance during World War II.
Martin died in 2011.
More of his story can be found at http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/story/loc.natlib.afc2001001.00328/.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Savannah Labbe
Editor: Michelle Cannon
Fact checker: Nohely Diaz
Graphic artist: Robert McPherson