Monday, April 20, 2020

2020 Prompt - Air - Edward William Martin

52 Ancestors 2020  - Week 16 Prompt - Air
Edward William Martin - 1918 - 2005 
My Uncle Ed - WW II Army Air Corp  

Ancestors with a military history are always an interesting research project. I research to find when did they enlist, what was their rank, where did the engage in conflict, and when were they discharged? My uncle Ed is my project for the prompt AIR. He was a Flying Tiger with the AVG, American Volunteer Group, of the Chinese Air Force 1941-42 and in the U.S. Army Air Corp 
Edward William Martin 1918-2005
American Volunteer Group / Chinese Air Force / U.S. Army Air Corp

Edward William Martin was born September 16, 1918 to Edward Jacob and Mary Catherine (Cronin) Martin in Detroit, Michigan.[1] He was the oldest of four children with sisters, Nina Marie, Josephine Blanche, and Mary Catherine.  He grew up living on Bostwick Street and as a young boy he was actively involved with the Boy Scouts as his father was a scout leader. He graduated from Southwestern High School and went to work for W.M. Chase Valve Company that was located across the street from where he grew up.

Edward W Martin about 1925

Sometime in the late 1930s Edward and his family moved to a flat above his grandparents on 1118 Vinewood Avenue so his father could care for his grandparents, Frank & Nina Martin. Edward registered for the draft October 16, 1940[2] and I would assume shortly after he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corp and then following basic training volunteered for the Chinese Air Force in the AVG, American Volunteer Group better known as the "Flying Tigers".

Edward William Martin WW II Draft Card October 16, 1940

When Edward enlisted in the U.S. Army much of the world was at war and the United States was a neutral state. China had been at war with Japan for many years and defeat was imminent when Franklin D Roosevelt. using the "Neutrality Act of 1939" and sold aircraft and supplies to China. A retired Army officer, Claire L. Chennault, was serving as a military advisor to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, President of the Nationalist China.

The Flying Tigers - American Volunteer Group 

Chennault recruited pilots and maintenance folks for what became known as the AVG or American Volunteer Group. To help Chennault, U.S. military personnel were allowed to resign from their respective services and join the AVG.[3] By the summer of 1941 Edward had volunteered for the AVG and was in route to British occupied Burma for advanced training. The aircraft supplied to the AVG were the Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk. When the aircraft, pilots and support services arrived in Burma they were instructed on details to protect the main Burma supply route to China by attacking Japanese bombers sent to disrupt the road. When the P-40 Tomahawks arrived in Burma their forward nose was painted with a large, tooth filled shark face. This coupled with extraordinary flying skills of the pilots soon caused the AVG to become known as "The Flying Tigers".[4]

Pearl harbor occurred on that infamous day December 7, 1941 and twelve days later the AVG saw their first action on December 19, 1941 attacking Japanese bombers.[5] For the next seven months "The Flying Tigers" protected the supply route with an official record of 296 Japanese aircraft destroyed with the aerial loss of only 14 pilots.
P-40 Aircraft -  The Flying Tigers

With America’s entry into World War II, the renown Flying Tigers reverted to American military control on July 4th, 1942.[6] Edward re-enlisted with the Army Air Corp on August 26, 1942 and reported to training for his next assignment.[7] According to the Army Air Corp patch on Edward's military jacket he was part of the ATC or Air Transport Command flying B-17 aircraft. After China's ocean, rail and road supply routes were blocked, all supplies had to be moved by air over the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains. The China-Burma-India airlift provided supplies to British and American troops in northern Africa, India, Burma and to China. 

P-17 Air Transport Command 

On furlough, Edward went home to marry his sweetheart, Julie Marko, on May 15, 1943 at St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Detroit.[8] Shortly after his marriage, Edward was back into action in the Air Transport Command flying with a crew in a B-17 aircraft. He was with a crew flying from Cairo to Calcutta the day his son, Edward T Martin, was born May 30, 1944.[9]

Edward and Julie Marko Martin Marriage
May 13, 1943 St Aloysius Catholic Church
Detroit, Michigan

Edward's military jacket reveals his action in WW II. He has a United States Army Air Corp patch on his left sleeve and a CBI or China-Burma-India military patch[10] on the right sleeve.  Under his name patch on the right is the ATC or Air Transport Command patch[11] and on the left front is the WWII Air Transport Command naked lady novelty patch.[12]

Edward W Martin's Army Air Corp Jacket
Army Air Corp patch on left sleeve, China-Burma-India military patch on right sleeve
Air Transport Command novelty patch on left front and Air Transport Command patch under name 

His jacket also contains a "blood chit”, issued from the National Government of the Republic of China to the American Volunteer Group.[13] Edward's "blood chit" contains the flags of the United States and Republic of China and the message in Chinese characters reads vertically from right to left: This foreign person has come to China to help in the war effort. Soldiers and civilians, one and all, should rescue, protect, and provide him medical care.[14]

American Volunteer Group "Blood Chit"
American flag / Republic of China flag
China-Burma-India insigna lower left
Blood Chit Chinese characters

World War II ended September 2, 1945 and Edward soon returned to his wife and son in Detroit. He returned to his job with Chace Valve Company and eventually bought a home in Dearborn, Michigan and added two more sons to the family. In May 1993, Edward and Julie celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and on February 9, 2005 Edward William Martin, a member of the Greatest Generation, Army Air Corp veteran of WW II, died in Wyandotte, Michigan. 

Edward W Martin returned home in 1945 to his wife and family
Back row L to R - Josephine, his mother Mary, father Edward, Beatrice and Nina
Edward holding his son, Edward Timothy, and his wife, Julie

[1] U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947; Edward W Martin.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Raschke, Phil, “76th Anniversary Salute to the Famous WW II ‘Flying Tigers”, The Suburban Times, July 19, 2017.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death Files, 1850-2010.
[8] Ancestry. Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952, Edward W Martin, Wayne County, 1943.
[9] Interview with Edward W Martin’s son, Edward T Martin, 21 Aug 2017.
[10] Wikipedia, China Burma India Theatre:
[13] Wikipedia, Blood chit:
[14] China-Burma-India Theatre Blood Chits:

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