Death of a ClassMate - Ed Martin - 17th Co.

Annapolis grad and highly decorated pilot, shot down on bombing mission, spent six years in 'Hanoi Hilton'


By Christine Huard
San Diego UT
Jan. 5, 2015

Edward Martin wound up in the hands of the North Vietnamese much the way Sen. John McCain and Vice Adm. James Stockdale did — the Navy commander's A-4 Skyhawk was hit by enemy fire during a bombing mission and downed just southeast of Hanoi.
And like McCain and Stockdale, his cell mates during the nearly six years he was confined and tortured at the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" prison, the Annapolis graduate persevered.
Vice Adm. Martin, who took a fall in his home Dec. 23, died of complications from a head injury that day in a San Diego hospital. He was 83.
The highly decorated war veteran, who rose to the rank of vice admiral before retiring from the Navy in 1989, had said the real unsung heroes of the war were the wives and families of those who had been held captive.
"It was harder for them because they didn't know what the future held," he said in a 2002 Union-Tribune article about the book "Open Doors: Vietnam POWs Thirty Years Later," in which he is featured.
He made it. Through daily brutalities. Through rope torture that broke his shoulders. Through leg and wrist irons, a tiny cell crammed with prisoners of war, and other inhumane conditions. He made it.
Captured July 9, 1967, he was held until March 4, 1973. He credited Stockdale's courage and character for the strength that allowed him and fellow prisoners of war to leave Vietnam proud of the way they handled themselves.
"He gave me inspiration and hope, told me what to expect, how to conduct myself," the retired vice admiral said in an August 2006 issue of Vietnam Magazine.
Edward Holmes Martin was born Sept. 30, 1931, in Savannah, Ga., the youngest of three children to DeCourcey Martin and Caroline White (Holmes) Martin. A distant relation of Paul Revere and Gen. George Patton, he seemingly had service and patriotism in his blood.
Martin's widow on Sunday said her late husband was a lifelong patriot and a chivalrous Southerner who loved to barbecue.
"He was very gentle and strong," Sherry Martin said. "It is kind of a dichotomy, but he was both. He looked after his loved ones very beautifully."
He attended Armstrong College and the University of Georgia Off-Campus Division before receiving an appointment to Annapolis in 1950. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1954.
He went on to receive flight training in Florida and Texas, and in 1955 was based in San Diego to serve in a number of carrier-based operations. In 1959, he became an instructor in the light jet Attack Replacement Squadron at Miramar Naval Air Station, then at Lemoore Naval Air Station. In 1964, duty sent him to the U.S. Naval War College. He would later earn a master's degree in international affairs from George Washington University.
He was home-ported in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1965 to serve as operations officer and executive officer of Attack Squadron 34. It was while leading a flight from the carrier Intrepid that he was shot down. Following his release from captivity and recovery, he served as executive assistant to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air Warfare, and became the commanding officer of the aircraft carrier Saratoga.
He was promoted to vice admiral in 1983. Before retiring in 1989, he served as commander of the 6th Fleet, United States commander Eastern Atlantic, and deputy commander-in-chief of U.S. Naval Forces Europe.
Vice Adm. Martin was awarded a Silver Star, two Legion of Merit medals, the Distinguished Flying Cross and other major honors.
After leaving the Navy, he was director of European business development for Xerox and found E.H. Martin Associates and E.H. Martin Investments. He was active in several civic organizations and served on the boards of the San Diego Maritime Museum, USS Midway Museum and U.S. Naval Aviation Museum foundation, among others, and the National Aeronautics and Space Museum board of advisers.
He and the former Sharron Handly were married 56 years and resided in Coronado since 1990.
Survivors include his wife, Sherry; a daughter and son-in-law, Michelle Martin and Rick Everman of Capistrano Beach; and a son, Peter of Miami. Another son, Beau, preceded him in death.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 10, at Christ Episcopal Church Coronado, 1114 Ninth St., Coronado. Burial arrangements are pending.
The family suggests donations to the United States Naval Academy Foundation, 25 Maryland Ave., Annapolis, Md., 21401. Indicate "In memory of Vice Admiral Edward H. Martin."

Staff writer Teri Figueroa contributed to this report.

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