May 05 2020 | Radio Biafra
Captain August “Augie” Harvey Martin and Gladys Frank Riddle Martin (1919-1968)
Captain August “Augie” Harvey Martin was born in Los Angeles, California in 1919. He was an American pilot and Tuskegee Airman. In 1955 he became the first African American to attain the rank of Captain with a commercial airline, and the first black airline pilot in the United States. He was the first African-American to captain a U.S. – scheduled commercial air carrier. Captain Martin undertook numerous humanitarian aid flights to Africa in his spare time and was part of the Biafran airlift operations.
He died on a mercy mission to Biafra alongside his wife, actress Gladys Frank Riddle Martin whilst attempting to land his plane during a severe rainstorm. On 30/07/1968, while on leave from Seaboard World Airlines, Captain Martin volunteered to fly food and relief material in a mercy mission into the embattled and starved stronghold enclave of Biafra during the Nigerian Civil War. While attempting to land his Lockheed L‑1049G Super Constellation on the Uli jungle airstrip at night, during a tropical storm, he was killed in a fatal crash. Also killed in the accident were his wife, actress Gladys Frank Riddle Martin as well as two representatives of the International Red Cross.
The plane was loaded with emergency relief supplies. When the rest of the world turned blind eyes to the killing of Biafrans, when even our own brothers called us rebels, raped our mothers and girls, humiliated us. In the face of world conspiracy against Biafrans, captain August Martin with his pretty young wife took the risks in helping the dying Biafran children. Because of his sacrifice and service to humanity “August Martin High School” in South Jamaica, N.Y. is named after him.
In 1980, the U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Aviation Administration published the August Martin Activities Book, a 20-page book for minority children. On 30th of May 2020, we will remember the sacrifices of August martin and wife for they remained our eternal Hero and Heroine. Their sacrifices shall never ever be in vain. In Biafra they shall be remembered and honoured for they paid the ultimate price for Biafra freedom.
Chibuike John Nebeokike
For: Radio Biafra Media