Thanks to the generosity of former Club member Stan Cohen, who is relocating to Kissimmee, Florida, and current Club member Irv Perlstein we were able to purchase a refrigerator at a significantly discounted price which was then donated to United States Army Lieutenant Ann Martin, the first female African American Veteran honored by the Lower Makefield Board of Supervisor’s 14th Annual Veterans Commemorative Ceremony held on November 7th at the Township’s Vietnam Memorial Wall.
Ann’s family lived under Nazi occupation and amid the evacuation of over 7,200 Jews to Sweden.
Ann was born on July 1957 in Cape Town, South Africa. In 1963, when she was age 6, the family moved to Denmark, the grandparent’s home, thereafter to England, then Frankfurt, Germany, and at 8 years old to San Juan Puerto Rico where Ann became a naturalized United States citizen. Ann’s life and values were shaped, in part, by her grandparents and the Danish resistance.
In 1969, Ann’s family moved to Ewing, New Jersey. She graduated Pennsbury High School 1976, and Temple University with a BSN in 1982.
October 1985, seeking a military career Ann enlisted, and attended Army Officer Training at Ft Sam Houston, Texas. In 1986, Lt. Martin deployed to Berlin, Germany and the 7th Medical Command, 279th Station Hospital.
On April 5th, 1986, the 279th received victims of the La Belle Disco bombing: 3 were killed and 299 wounded, 79 who were American.
Tensions between the US and Libya heightened after the June 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 and the March 1986 U.S. Naval engagements in the Gulf of Sidra the international waters off the coast of Libya. Libyan leader Gaddafi responded by calling for Arab assaults on American interest worldwide.
In 2001 a German court convicted a former Libyan diplomat and three accomplices on murder charges. Prosecutors presented radio messages between Tripoli and the East Berlin Libyan embassy. The messages were intercepted April 1986 by a National Security Agency listening station in West Berlin.
During these events, due to her language abilities and international experience, Lt. Martin was recruited by the NSA. Over a 1-year period, Lt. Martin passed through Check Point Charlie as a counterintelligence operative.
She wore her Army uniform and traveled under the guise of being a disgruntled nurse seeking work, and possible patronage in the east. Her guise worked, nothing had to be construed.
Lt. Martin was in pain and disgruntled over a bad hip being ignored by Army medical. She asked for and gained employment as a nurse at the East Berlin Medic Hospital. By consorting with staff, locals, Russian Officers, and bureaucrats, she obtained names, identified key individuals, and gathered information on missing people. Her information was critical to our listening stations, defense, and diplomatic operations.
Lt. Martin fooled the Stasi and conducted her missions while facing imminent danger. The Stasi, the feared and hated secret police of the communist East German Republic, is charged with 1,393 killings.
The Checkpoint Charlie Museum list 245 killed during crossing attempts.
June 1987 Lt Martin attended President Ronald Regan’s Berlin Wall Speech when he declared: “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall.”
While little was made of the event at the, two years later the words became immortalized when the Berlin wall was torn down.
Lt. Martins service as an operative ended when East Berlin operatives requested that on her next reporting day, she avoids Check Point Charlie and crosses instead at a certain Café hiding a secret passageway between the divided city.
After Germany, Lt. Martin deployed to Walter Reed Army Hospital, Bethesda, Maryland.
June 1991, Ft Dix, New Jersey, after 5 years of military service, Lt Martin was medically discharged from the United States Army.
Ann currently lives in Lower Makefield. She is the proud mother of 2 daughters Liddy and Marlena, and proud grandmother of 3 Kevin, Allen, and Harris.
Delivering the refirgerator on November 24th, 2020
(l to r) Irv Perlstein, vilunteers Bobby Burns and his son Max who made teh delivery, and Stan Cohen