information provided by the Office of Robin Kelly
WASHINGTON, DC (August 4, 2019) – On July 30, 2019, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved Congresswoman Robin Kelly’s legislation to rename the Olympia Fields post office in honor of Captain (USA, ret.) Robert L. Martin.
“Through his life and career, Captain Robert L. Martin taught us to pursue excellence and be dedicated to service,” said Congresswoman Robin Kelly. “Honoring Captain Martin’s life and accomplishments by naming the post office in Olympia Fields the ‘Captain Robert L. Martin Post Office’ is a fitting tribute to this American hero.”
Captain Martin was a member of the famous 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, he was shot down over German-occupied territory, and he evaded capture for five weeks as he made his way safely across Allied lines. He retired from the U.S. Army in 1945.
Captain Martin’s bravery and service was recognized with several war decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with Six Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Purple Heart. In 2007, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President George W. Bush at a ceremony honoring the Tuskegee Airmen.
After the war, Captain Martin made his home in Chicago and worked as an electrical engineer. In 2008, he moved to Olympia Fields. He married Odette Ewell; the couple was married for 68 years and had four children. Captain Martin passed away on July 26, 2018.
Gabrielle Martin, Captain Martin’s daughter, said:
“The news arrives just over one year following the passing of Captain Martin. Captain Martin’s life in public service is being honored and will serve as a beacon for younger generations. Captain Martin served his country in WWII, despite its policies on race. Captain Martin’s composure under duress helped him roll from his burning plane which caught enemy fire during a strategic strafing mission. As a civilian, Captain Martin reached out to comfort and assist the family of his fellow officer, Captain Lawrence Dickson, whose remains recently were returned to Dickson’s daughter. Captain Martin served the City of Chicago as a street lighting engineer who lit the way for its citizens to safely drive its streets and by-ways. Captain Martin tutored young students, gave inspirational speeches, and assisted in introducing young people to aviation careers. Known best as ‘Dad,’ he would say of this honor— ‘I just did the right thing and was glad to be of help. Thank you for the recognition. I hope my life serves as an example of what can be accomplished for one’s family and community.’”
Congresswoman Kelly introduced legislation to rename this post office in late February, and it was approved by the U.S. House on April 30. On July 30, it was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate and now advances to the President’s desk for his signature.