South suburban post office renamed after pilot part of 1st black military fighter squadron in US

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. (WLS) -- A south suburban post office has been renamed after a member of the country's first black military fighter squadron, the Tuskegee Airmen.

Captain Robert Martin lived in Olympia Fields from 2008 until his death last year at age 99. He was a highly decorated pilot who flew dozens of missions during World War II.

On Wednesday, the U.S. post office in Olympia Fields officially became the Captain Robert L. Martin Post Office. The unveiling followed an afternoon dedication ceremony in the south suburb.

The renaming is the result of legislation authored by U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly. The Democrat from Illinois said she saw Martin's obituary and decided he should be honored. President Donald Trump signed the bill into law in August.

"No matter who you are, where you are from, Capt. Robert Martin climbed into that cockpit and fought for you to be here today," Kelly said.

Robert Martin was born in 1919 in Dubuque, Iowa. As an original member of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen, he served as a combat pilot in the 100th fighter squadron of the 332nd fighter group.

On his 64th mission, Martin was shot down over German-occupied territory. He evaded capture for weeks until making his way across Allied lines.

Martin retired from the U.S. Army in 1945. The decorated flyer not only received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the air medal with six oak leaf cluster and a purple heart. But he was also awarded the Medal of Honor during a ceremony honoring the Tuskegee Airmen in 2007.

Martin was also a founding member of the Chicago chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen.

"A lot of people think the TA is about black history," said Ken Rapier, of the Chicago chapter. "The TA are about United States history. They're American history."

Martin had earned a degree in electrical engineering and went on to work as an electrical engineer for the city of Chicago before retiring in 1988.

Martin's four adult children said it's truly a celebration of a man who served with honor and overcame obstacles.

"He fought and he never quit. He just never quit," said Gabrielle Martin, one of Martin's daughter. "And he wouldn't let us quit. We're his legacy."
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