Phillip Martin
U. S. Army
Civil Rights
Korean War
Dates of Service: 03/23/1953 - 04/1955
Heavy Equipment Driver

Phillip was born in Longwood, Louisiana, as one of six children. His parents were Fonzo and Wealthy Moore Martin. By age five young Phillip was already helping on his father's farm and in his garage. "Once you got home there was work still to be done," he says of his school days. He spent one year at Booker T. Washington High School in 1951. That was a time, he remembered, when "everything was colored and white. You had colored for your water fountain; you had white for the water fountains. When we did get buses, trolleys, we had to ride on the back," he says. His text books in schools were those discarded from white schools, often with pages missing, he recalls. In 1952 he left for Port Arthur, Texas, where he worked until he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1953. Phillip took basic and advanced training at Camp Chaffee in Fort Smith, Arkansas, then shipped out to Korea in 1954. There he was attached to the 528th Field Artillery Battalion, and saw combat "right at the end of it," he says of the war. He recalls the summers as "hot, hot," and winter as "twenty-five and thirty below zero." Mail took about two weeks to reach him from the States. After rest and recuperation in Japan, commonly known as R&R, Phillip returned to Korea and was re-assigned to the 196th Field Artillery Battalion. He enjoyed watching entertainers Bob Hope and Marilyn Monroe in a show on his base. Phillip served in Korea for 17 months and 21 days, and was paid up to $160 per month. His parents received $175 a month during his time in Korea. He returned to Fort Chaffee and was soon discharged as a corporal. In his first job as a civilian, working in cement, he made $18 for his first weekly paycheck. "The next check was fourteen, and that's when I walked," he recalls. He went to work for Shreveport Budweiser Distributing Company and Murphy Syrup Company, then spent 30 years at Blanchard, a chemical plant, where he retired. On March 27, 1957 he married Claudette Coleman. They have four children, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.