Politics & Government

Fort Worth WWII veteran gets medals

Johnny Wayne Martin, 91, of Fort Worth finally got the medals and recognition he earned for his service in World War II in a ceremony Tuesday at Rep. Kenny Marchant’s office in Irving.

Martin’s daughter, Bonnie Sue Story, contacted Marchant’s office last year asking about what commendations her father might be entitled to. “He had some of them,” Story said in an interview. “He just assumed that was all he had.”

But when Marchant’s staff looked into Martin’s history as a crew chief on a Lockheed C-46 during World War II in the China-Burma-India Theater, they found he had earned many more decorations than the two or three medals that he had.

“Assisting veterans in retrieving their overdue military decorations is a wonderful privilege,” Marchant, R-Coppell, said in a news release. “The awards they earn in the line of duty represent their valor, sacrifices, and experiences. Mr. Martin and his family will now be able to share his legacy for generations to come, and I am happy to have helped preserve his history of service.”

In 2013 Marchant helped Joseph Ray Perry, the father of then-Gov. Rick Perry, secure the medals he had earned in World War II, as well. Joseph Ray Perry received his awards in Marchant’s office, including one he wasn’t expecting, a Sharpshooters badge.

On Tuesday, Marchant presented Martin seven awards, which were all secured in a picture frame: Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, World War II Victory Medal and Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII.

Martin, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, was very pleased at getting the decorations and recognition. “He was very proud to get them,” said Story, whose husband, Jim Story, is a former Bedford mayor. “But at the same time there were so many heroes. He was surprised he was getting any more medals. It was very, very sweet.”

Martin was born and raised in Saint Jo, a small community in North Texas near the Red River. In 1942, he joined the Army Air Forces and logged over 750 hours as a crew chief, often flying over the Himalaya Mountains, which were known as “The Hump.” The trips were hazardous because of primitive navigation tools and bad weather.

According to Marchant’s office, during one mission, Martin and the C-46 crew were stranded on a grass field in the mountains while Japanese aircraft attacked them. After three days, a rescue plane reached them and delivered the parts to fix the plane.

Martin returned to the U.S. and worked for Convair, now part of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., as an electronics inspector for 40 years. He and his wife, Eleanora, had been married almost 67 years when she died in 2011. Martin has three daughters, nine grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Maria Recio is the Star-Telegram’s Washington bureau chief.

Twitter: @maria_e_recio