During the month of June, the 34th Lights for Peace flag to fly at the Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum honors the memory of Manuel “Manny” Martin, Jr. of Wesport, a WWII Veteran and a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

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Manny was the son of the late Manuel and Mary E. (Faria) Martin, Sr., and was a lifelong resident of Westport. He passed away on July 30, 2012 at the age of 90, just two months after being interviewed for a television series entitled, Heroes Among Us.

The late Joseph Langlois, former President of the Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Historical Association,
produced this television series, in conjunction with the New Bedford Cable TV, which included a series of interviews with local citizens, who according to Mr. Langlois, “experienced the trauma, the confusion and drama of war. Ordinary individuals who were confronted by extraordinary events that demanded, at times, more than they may have thought they were capable of enduring.”

In May 2012, Mr. Langlois met up with Manny Martin, at his home in Westport, to get a firsthand account of Manny’s experience during the attack on Pearl Harbor. He wanted to know what Manny heard, what he saw, what he smelled and how he felt.
 

Manny explained that as a young man, he lived and worked on his family’s farm in Westport. As a young man, prior to the U.S. entering WWII, he told his mother that he was going to enlist the U.S. Army. At first, she didn’t take him seriously, but shortly after visiting a recruiting office in Fall River he was on his way to Hawaii. His goal had been to go to Honolulu, so he was assigned to the US. Army Coast Artillery Corps. Within a few days Manny was on his way to Boston to board a ship.

While in Boston, “I was asked to operate a forklift. I was told that I did a good job and I got a choice bunk for my labor,” which made his ride aboard the USS America more comfortable. “A lot of guys were sick, but I wasn’t. I enjoyed the ocean ride.” The USS America was one of the three Kitty Hawk class supercarriers. “I saw Florida and the Panama Canal. I was dumbstruck. I had never been farther than Fall River! The Panama Canal was quite an experience. We went to California and stayed a couple of days. The first time I had ever seen a burlesque show!”

Manny explained that while stationed in Honolulu, he worked on the telephone system in his outfit. There were a total of 52 telephones between the electric power plant, plotting room and two 12” artillery guns.
“A lot of people don’t know how to fire a 12-inch artillery gun. You don’t just pull a trigger. In order to control a 12-inch gun, we had four outposts. I had to maintain all of the phones in every station.” The job of the outposts was to “spot anything and watch and identify. Then they would let the commander know and we’d get the guns ready to fire.” Manny went on to explain that these artillery guns took about 8 men to fire and each had a specific job. The shells were close to 5ft. long and required 272 pounds of gunpowder.

Categories: People