Lt. Colonel (Ret.) James Donald Martin

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James Donald Martin
James Donald Martin

Lt. Colonel (Ret.) James (Jim) Donald Martin, husband, father, brother, and friend, passed away on Thursday, January 4, 2018. He had been fighting Parkinson’s Disease for the last 10 years. Jim recently celebrated his 77th birthday on December 8th.

He was preceded in death by his parents, John Clyde and Louise Thomas Martin, sister Carolyn Martin Mims, brothers John Robert,Thomas Milton (Millie) and David Lee Martin (survived by Shirley).

He was born and raised in Cramerton, N.C., the place on Earth he loved the most. There, he attended grade school and high school, during which he earned his Eagle Scout. After graduating from Cramerton High School, Jim attended Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, N.C. While at Wake Forest, he pledged Theta Chi Fraternity and married his high school sweetheart, Saundra Eppley. In 1964, he graduated with a Business Administration degree and with an Army commission of Second Lieutenant, which he obtained through the Wake Forest ROTC program.

Shortly after entering the Army at Ft. Lee Virginia, he attended the US Army Aviation schools at Ft. Wolters, Texas and Ft. Rucker, Alabama. He graduated as an Army Aviator in June 1966. He completed his first tour in Vietnam in 1967 with the 229th Aviation Battalion “A” Company 1st Air Cavalry Division. He left the army in 1969 and for a brief period served with the Federal Bureau of Investigation before re-entering the army in 1970.

In 1971, after training as a pilot for the Cobra helicopter at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga., he completed his second tour in Vietnam. During the following years, he and his family were stationed in Ft. Eustis, Va., Heidelberg and Hanau, Germany and many other stateside locations.  Some of his military education included the Transportation Officers Advanced Course and the Army Command and General Staff College.

Among many other positions, Lt. Col. Martin served as the research and development coordinator of the Applied Technology Laboratory at Ft. Eustis, Va. and as the Chief of the Transportation Division, Director of Logistics at Ft. Benning, Ga.

His military success was reflected in the many medals he received. Among those are Meritorious Service Medal, Medal of Honor, Master Aviator Badge, and Bronze Star.

His final tour, culminating 23 years of military service, was at Ft. McPherson, Ga., from where he retired on August 31, 1988.

After retiring from the military, he began a second career in education, earning degrees from the University of West Georgia. He served the Fayette County School System for 11 years as a middle school science teacher, a middle school administrator, and a high school administrator. In May 2005, he retired.

Jim leaves behind his beloved family and the gifts of life he gave to them. This includes Saundra E. Martin, his wife of 57 years, his two children Kelly Taylor (Jay Taylor) and Craig Martin (Tyler Martin), two grandchildren, Madison Ann and James Andrew, many nieces, nephews, and extended family.

He was responsible, kind, considerate, respectful, and above all, known for his sense of humor. One of his many goals was to instill patriotism and responsibility in young people.

The family and friends who will gather together to celebrate his life are a testimony to the impact he had on each person’s life in a unique way. In the end, what was in his heart reflected the life he lived.

The Celebration of Life will begin at noon with a gathering of friends and family at Carl J Mowell and Son Funeral Home in Peachtree City, 200 Robinson Road, on January 13th.  The memorial service will take place at 2 p.m. Interment will take place at Arlington National Cemetary in Arlington, Va. on a date to be determined. Expressions of sympathy may be made to Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund at www.fallenheroesfund.org.

Carl J Mowell & Son Funeral Home, Peachtree City –www.mowellfuneralhome.com.