An American flag always flies outside the small cottage at the Franklin United Methodist Community.
Robert Martin has set a flag out every day since he became a U.S. citizen in 1950. He fought for that flag, and his involvement in the military laid the foundation for his career and helped him buy his first house.
But for a short time, he remembers when it represented the enemy.
Martin has experienced two unique perspectives of military service. The two-year veteran of the U.S. Army served during the Korean War as a photographer, just a few years after being drafted as a teenager into the German army to fight in World War II.
He credits the U.S. Army with saving his life.
“It was very positive arrangement, the fact that as a former enemy, if you would call it that, could now speak on the other side with nothing but positive feelings,” he said.
“It’s certainly not every day that you’re serving two armies, one after another.”
Martin doesn’t keep any signs of his military service around his house, other than an American flag. The 86-year-old downplays his service, stressing that there was nothing extraordinary about it. He doesn’t like to talk about it much, only sharing with close friends at the Methodist community, said his wife, Florence Martin.
Though his story was recorded by then-Sen. Richard Lugar’s Veterans History Project and is kept on file at the Library of Congress, he has listened to a copy of the recording just a few times.
“There was no heroism involved in any of it. I was there and I was here,” he said.