By Mary Martin-DuFran
Daughter, Army, World War II
My father, John L. Martin, served in the U.S. Army during World War II.
A native of Shawnee, he and his best friend, Tommy Ferguson, enlisted in 1941.
He and my mother, Sarah Ruth Medlock, began dating while in high school. After enlistment, he was sent to Camp Barkley in Abilene, Texas, then received notice that he would be sent for training to bases in the northeast part of the United States.
Corresponding daily by mail, my mother received a letter asking her to marry him. She took a train to Abilene on the weekend, and they were married July 19, 1941, at a Methodist minister’s home.
My father soon received notice that after training in the northeast, he would be sent for combat in Europe.
My mother quit her job at the telephone company and went with him. Wherever he was stationed, she would find a room to rent and locate a job, so that they could be together on weekends and in the evenings.
At one point, they were in Leominster, Mass., and she told stories of working in a costume jewelry factory. At another location, she worked in a department store.
When my father was shipped overseas, my mother returned to Shawnee and lived with her parents. She was pregnant with my older sister when he left, and my father did not see his baby until she was 18 months old when he returned after the war.
During the two years he was overseas, he lost his father and his father-in-law. He received family news from my mother’s daily letters and from other relatives. My mother would receive letters sporadically and many times they would have pieces cut out of them, since all mail was censored due to security of the troops.
My mother would tell stories of waiting on the front porch each day for the mailman. He would deliver the mail across the street first, but if he had a letter from my father, he would wave to her. She would then run across to get her letter, rather than have to wait until he arrived to her side of the street. Waiting for letters and wondering if he was safe were the hardest, she said.
When my father returned in 1945, he found a position at the Chevrolet dealership in Shawnee, and in 1946 my older brother was born. In 1950, my family made their home in Norman, where I was later born.
My father passed away in 1975 from a massive heart attack.
Rarely did he speak of his years during the war and the horrors he experienced. He always had the biggest smile, loved his family, and had a wonderful sense of humor. He was kind, gentle and one of the most honorable men I have ever known.
He was definitely a hero.