Martin known for his ministry, veteran support work

By DAISY WASHINGTON / Community Columnist

“Volunteering is a ministry. I feel the very least that we can do for our veterans is the very best we can,” said Emmett Milton Martin, the son of a United States Air Force military police veteran.

Known simply as “Duke” for the past 76 years, he served his country in the United States Navy as a Navigator on the USS Shangri La CV8-33 air craft carrier.

Duke Martin has served as a hospital and American Legion chaplain, and assists with numerous veterans’ events. (Contributed)

He was released from active duty at the end of 1962. “Next to marrying my wife Linda, the Navy was the best thing I ever experienced,” he said. “I learned more in that than any part of my life.”

The younger of two children, Duke was born in Haleyville, Alabama. Duke is married to Linda, his wife of 54 years.

In 1983 Duke was licensed and ordained as a minister and has had the honor of officiating each of his three children’s weddings, as well as baptizing each of his six grandchildren. Beginning his ministry as a Gideon speaker provided much of the necessary groundwork. He served as Oncology Chaplain at Brookwood Medical Center for seven years.

Chaplains make rounds and are on-call throughout the week for patients and families, offering spiritual support as needed.

At that time he was approached by several veterans groups about serving as their chaplain too.

Since retiring, all of Duke’s time is spent working with veterans groups.

He has served as State Chaplain for the Alabama American Legion for the past seven years. “It seems I have a reputation. It is said that I ‘pray good,’” Duke said.

From saying the invocation at a Blue Star ceremony when troops are being deployed or at a memorial service at the Statehouse in Montgomery, to setting up chairs at a Memorial Day event, to assisting with placing wreaths on graves for the Wreaths Across America event each December, Duke has demonstrated unwavering commitment for the past 10 years.

He officiates at veteran and non-veteran funerals. “I am happy to carry chairs, wreaths, flags or whatever to help out as long as it honors our veterans,” he added.

He serves on the Support Committee for the Alabama National Cemetery and has been a volunteer with Blue Star Salute and Wreaths Across America.

Duke has been an RSVP member since 2011 and has logged 20,258 hours.