Corporal Arthur Martin, holding his Purple Heart
Corporal Arthur Martin, holding his Purple Heart
Corporal Arthur Martin, a 95-year-old World War II veteran, received a standing ovation, awards and many thanks for the sacrifices he made as a 19-year-old serving in General Patton’s 3rd Army in the Rhineland area of Germany.

Martin is the 2019 Jon Menke Award for Military Service recipient.

Martin said he was not upset when he was drafted in 1943.

“It was my time to go,” he said simply.

His wife of nearly 72 years, Lyda, said they knew there was a good chance his letter calling him to duty would come and that they knew they’d have to live with the changes it brought to their lives. Lyda was still in high school when Arthur was drafted and they were dating at the time.

“I still remember his serial number because I wrote it so many times,” Lyda Martin said, speaking of the letters she wrote to him while he was training at Camp Polk in Louisiana and when he was in Europe.

Martin was a Sherman Tank gunner in the 18th Tank Battalion of the 8th Armored Division. He served as part of the campaign that liberated the area of Germany to the west of the Rhine River, which was the greatest natural obstacle the Western Allies faced in advancing further into German territory after crossing the English Channel.

Martin’s battalion left Camp Polk around Christmastime 1944. They landed in England, then immediately set out for the Rhineland. Martin was injured in a mortar attack on Jan. 25, 1945.

“I pulled myself out and my sergeant caught me as I fell off the tank,” said Martin, whose body was littered with pieces of shrapnel. He was taken off the battlefield and had three surgeries in three months as a result of his injuries.

Martin still carries dozens of shrapnel pieces inside him today. He was awarded the Purple Heart Medal for the injuries he sustained in battle.

“We couldn’t really rough-house with Dad when we were kids,” said Robin Ferree, one of the Martin daughters. “If we’d ever start to get too rough, we’d get the warnings to ‘take it easy with Daddy.’”

Ferree explained that Martin is missing some of his ribs in his back over his heart. This is another lifetime injury that happened as a result of the mortar attack. Ferree also recalled a time when the family was ice skating and her father fell.

“That was a very scary time for us,” said Ferree.

Ferree grew up in Madison with her parents and her sisters, Diane Yoke and Melissa Allen. The Martins moved to Madison for work in 1960. Martin was employed at Grote Industries in Belleview, Kentucky, and he moved to stay on in the company’s accounting department when the company merged two locations into a new Madison locale.

“Madison is a wonderful place to live and to raise a family,” said Lyda Martin.

Martin’s mother worked in the factory for Grote in Belleview and each of his daughters worked summer jobs in different areas of the company when they were teenagers. Some of Grote’s leadership was present this week to thank Martin for his service not only as an employee, but as an American hero.

“I still call this place ‘home,’” said Ferree, who lives in Colorado.

Arthur and Lyda Martin used to enjoy Madison’s festivals and other events. Their favorite annual events were Regatta and Chautauqua, she said.

“We can’t walk around like we used to, so we really just get out to find something to eat,” said Lyda Martin. “We used to be big golfers, too.”

Diane and her husband, Ed, live in Indianapolis. Melissa, who was known by her family as Missy, passed away in 2015 after a battle with cancer. She was married to Steve Allen, who lives near Grand Rapids, Michigan. Arthur and Lyda Martin have six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Martin was surrounded by family members Tuesday evening as he was presented by the City of Madison with the Jon Menke Award and with other honors from members of the Major Samuel Woodfill Post #9 of the American Legion and the Indiana State Senate.

The Menke award honors the memory of Jon Menke, a Madison native who died in 2008 while serving in Iraq with the National Guard. The American Legion gave Martin small replicas of is medals. The State of Indiana and Indiana General Assembly proclamation given Martin by State Sen. Chris Garten said “Arthur Martin truly exemplifies what it means to be a Hoosier.”