Veterans Air Express Navigator Edward Martz

Proud to have met 1946 Veterans Air Express Navigator Edward Martz

Ed Martz at home in November 2015 sharing stories of his 1946 adventures in Prague and Warsaw as navigator for Veterans Air.

Ed Martz at home in New Jersey on November 14, 2015.

Ed Martz back from first Veterans Air flight to Prague on April 23, 1946. Standing in far back row on left.

Ed Martz stands back row (left side) between Veterans crew Thomas Cowart and UNRRA representative. Kneeling front row left is Dick Broughton. PHOTO CREDIT: The Star Ledger, April 1946 (page and actual publication date unknown).

Ed Martz started our very first scheduled phone conversation with a whopper.

“Mr. Martz, I presume?”

“Yes. Last I heard of you, you were selling for Beechcraft after the airline shut down.”

I looked at the phone. Stunned. “How do you know that?”

Dick Broughton told me.”

“You knew Broughton?”

They had flown together in 1946, so certainly Ed “knew” him. My question was stupid. But I couldn’t understand the timeline.

“Oh yes. He went back in service after Veterans. Came out a General, I think. Not sure. He told me you were selling Beechcrafts.”

But, if Dick Broughton knew I was Saunie’s daughter…???

I try to piece the pieces together. “Ed, I did sell for Beech. But that was around 1990 – 1992. So you were in touch with him that much later?”

But how would Broughton know that? I’m not even sure I was still using my maiden name Gravely back then. And, if he knew I was Saunie’s daughter, why wouldn’t he have come introduce himself???”

When I asked Ed a second time how he knew I was with Beech, he said, “I was pretty sure it was Broughton. Maybe not. We lived a couple blocks away from each other in Maplewood.”

That kicked-off our first phone conversation. And it stayed that way for 45 minutes. It was November 3, last month.

Ed (I asked his permission to call him Ed)…Ed’s memory gifted me with all sorts of things. His sister Marie was attending secretarial school in Newark in the same building as Dad’s “corporate offices.” (Ed’s term, not mine.) Marie learned they were looking for pilots and told Ed.

Ed Martz’s aviation background

1943 aerial view of Great Bend Army Airfield, Kansas where during WWII Ed Martz taught radar navigation.

Great Bend Army Airfield where Ed Martz was a B-29 radar navigation instructor. PHOTO CREDIT: United States Army Air Forces Public Domain.

Ed was trained as a B-29 navigator in Victorville, CA during World War II and became an instructor on the first radar navigation systems installed on the B-29 at Great Bend (Army Airfield), KS.  “I taught them how to interpret the returns.”  Fun tidbit (and Ed interjected many as we talked), he told me Great Bend was home of Fuller Brush Company.  “Remember them?” he asked me.

After Veterans, Ed Martz stayed in aviation, navigating for United Airlines under their Military Air Transport Service (MATS) contract and later for Aer Lingus, TWA, and Riddle Airlines.  He met his bride, Marie, then a flight attendant, during this time.  They just celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary in November.  Mazel tov, Marie & Ed!

Discharged from service on Long Island, Ed remained on Inactive Status and joined the New Jersey Air Reserves at Newark Airport.  He flew AT-6’s four hours a month to maintain his reserve status.  I mention this because John Greenleaf (Veterans Air founding member and General Manger) flew fighters in the NJ Air National Guard until the late 50’s.  I know those are different “units,” but I wonder if their paths crossed?

Smallest of worlds…you can’t calculate these odds!

Speaking of crossing paths…and I know I’m going far afield here, but…I must tell you this story.

Gaye Lyn pictured standing by the building Directory where Ed Martz's insurance agency is based.

Gaye Lyn in front of the Martz Directory listing. Red arrow courtesy of the author. PHOTO CREDIT: Owner of San Francisco Mercantile, Madison, NJ.

While I was  still searching online for Edward F. Martz, I found an insurance agency of the same name in Madison, New Jersey.  That looked hopeful because Ed is from New Jersey.  But the city and street address made me gasp!  Couldn’t be!!!  But it was — the same building in which one of my dearest, longest-time friends owns a fabulous women’s clothing store, San Francisco Mercantile.  I even Google-Earthed the address because I was questioning my memory.  There it was.  No doubt.

The internet listing had a phone number…a commodity hard to come by in my research!

After business hours in New Jersey?  I called anyway.  Left my astounding-sounding message about “our Dad’s knowing each other in 1945.”  And, because I couldn’t stand still, promptly called my friend, Bea, to tell her the story.  While on the phone, she walked into the foyer of the building and, sure enough, the agency was listed there.  I had my picture taken by the Directory when I visited two weeks later.

Marie Martz welcomes Gaye Lyn to the Martz insurance office on 11-17-2015.

Marie Martz, Ed’s daughter, and Gaye Lyn. Amazing 30+ year conjunction of people and events…Martz’s insurance office above Gaye’s friend’s boutique in Madison, NJ. PHOTO CREDIT: Owner of San Francisco Mercantile.

You cannot calculate the odds.  I’ve spent hours and hours over 30 years in Bea’s shop.  I bought my wedding dress there 20 years ago, while Ed, no doubt worked upstairs – walking above my head.  His father founded the business. He filed papers there as a kid, took over the agency when he quit flying, and retired at the tender age of 83.  Like only seven years ago!

His daughters run the business today; his eldest daughter, Marie, is President.  First time Marie spoke with me on the phone, she promptly went downstairs to ask Bea if “Gaye Lyn is the real deal?” Bea assured her!

 

I digress!!!! Back to Ed when he was with Veterans Air…

The first months he worked for Veterans, while he awaited delivery of our first DC-4, Ed sold tickets and dispatched our morning DC-3 flights between Newark and Miami.  Those are the same flights for which Marilyn Gries occasionally greeted and seated passengers as Veterans unofficial first hostess.  (When my researched stories knit together, I love it!!)

“One morning a little old Jewish guy gave me his card and said we should apply for government work. ‘They’ll love your Veterans name. Give my card to your boss.’”

The boss was my Dad, Saunie Gravely.  And he did follow up.  The little old man had served in the Truman Administration and “was an influence peddler” who pulled some strings for us.  Ed said it resulted in Veterans picking up our first C-54 (aka DC-4) and getting the UNRAA contract…the same aircraft and trips Ed would crew as navigator!

In a later conversation, Ed told me this Truman man was killed in an airplane crash on an “Eastern Constellation over South America.”  Someday I’ll research that incident after I confirm with Ed that he meant Eastern Airlines flying a Lockheed Constellation.

Other factoids from Ed

Ed explained our DC-4 needed dump valves installed and afterwards was christened by Czech opera singer Novotna. (Another confirmation of my previous research.)

“One morning after my shift, I was standing out watching the airplanes and I met Morgan Cooper Walker. He had just been hired as Chief Pilot on the DC-4’s and was looking for the office.”

Ed had just spoken for the first time to the man with whom he would crew on at least three UNRRA international flights. Prague twice and Warsaw.  According to crew manifests, Thomas Cowart flew as Flight Engineer on all three trips, but neither Ed nor Thomas recalls the other.

Gaye Lyn crashes at Teterboro

When I mentioned the DC-3 Gaye Lyn, Ed said, “Oh, yea. It crashed.”

DC-3 GAYE LYN named after Veterans Air Express founder's daughter the week she was born.

Turned-up nose DC-3 named GAYE LYN.

In John Noll’s voice-over to his film footage, as he panned Veterans’s first DC-3 (the GAYE LYN), he said “it wrecked at Teterboro.” Because of conflicting aircraft records, I thought John meant the crash occurred under ownership of another company, but Ed Martz confirmed otherwise. (The following account of what happened comes directly from Ed.  However, he’s a man of few words.  So, these quotes are an amalgamation from one phone conversation and our two face-to-face meetings.)

“Was it destroyed?”

“No, it was a landing accident at Teterboro, went off into a ditch and damaged the undercarriage. We had to paint over the name because we didn’t want it in the newspapers.”

I erroneously assumed by “name,” Ed meant GAYE LYN. But during our meetings, I remembered to ask him if they painted over GAYE LYN on the side of the aircraft.

Movie star pose of Carole Landis who re-christened a Veterans Air DC-4.

Ed remembers that Carole Landis christened a Veterans’ DC-4. Wish we had photos. THIS PHOTO: Courtesy of Glamour Girls of The Silver Screen.

No, it was the company name…which demystified how it was my Dad had the name plate as a souvenir many years later. I lusted after his giving it to me, but a home fire would destroy it, along with most of my Dad’s personal things.

“Do you remember my Dad? What was he like?”

“Sure. Smart. Nice guy. Had enough sense to keep it going.”

“How long were you there, Ed?”

“‘til the end.”

“What happened?”

“The second DC-4 needed dump valves installed. We sent to it Matson Steamship maintenance base in Oakland. They wanted to be paid. We didn’t have the money. They put a lien on it.  That was the end.” As an afterthought, “Carole Landis christened that aircraft.”

Dear Reader, I leave you here with this introduction to Veterans Air Navigator Ed Martz. I have much more to tell from his vivid recall. (And I will.)

We met, along with his wife Marie and two daughters, on Thursday and Saturday, November 12th and 14th , in their home in New Jersey. I had already spoken with him prior to the trip…and four times since then over the phone, easily and happily visualizing his engaging smile.  You’ll have to visualize MY smile and continued amazement that I’ve become friends with this lovely man who connects me to my Dad!  He truly sounds happy to hear from me. As I’m fond of saying these days…Pinch me!

Gaye Lyn


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Then & There…

A RECOMMENDED READ and irreplaceable for me: "Memories of the Jing Bao & Beyond," Authors Choice Press, 2001. Written by our own JACK Z. STETTNER - Veterans Air Express Co-Founder, Investor, Pilot and Operations Manager. As well as his considerable WWII experiences, Jack's book revealed new details about Veterans Air Express...plus the spirit and character of this organization that Jack obviously loved!