The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

October 10, 2012

Tag design to honor Tuskegee Airmen

(Continued)

"We have at least four Medal of Honor recipients come to that event every year," Martin said of the Jackson layover, which is held at a Harley-Davidson dealership.

His move to design the commemorative license plate came after several dealings with the Legislature, including proclamations honoring him and his father, the late L.J. Martin Sr., who ran unsuccessfully in 1965 for the McComb city board.

Martin's proclamation celebrated his artwork in preserving the legacy of the airmen.

Martin said he pays careful attention to historical detail in his illustrations, which all tell a story about specific missions or battles.

On a recent day, he showed off one piece that's still a work in progress. It shows a hobbled B-24 being led to safety by a Tuskegee Airman, which had staved off a threat from a German squadron, whose planes are seen as tiny silhouettes retreating into the clouds.

The bomber pilot was Hattiesburg oil magnate Curt Weaver, who lived for decades not knowing the name of the Tuskegee Airman who saved his life.

Martin learned about the story while living in Hattiesburg and knew who the identity of the mystery pilot, who had the word "Lucifer" painted on his plane. Turns out it was his old neighbor from California, Ed Gleed.

"This painting is what that's supposed to be about — that mission," Martin said. "I had to do this based on the story."

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