During the Second World War, in 1944 when he turned 20, he joined the Internal French Forces, before being integrated into the 71 st Infantry Regiment, where he was made sergeant. During the French campaign, he exhibited outstanding fighting qualities in several confrontations against the Germans, which earned him one commendation and the War Cross.
As a non-commissioned officer, Martin was sent to the Ecole militaire interarmes ( Interservices Military Academy ) and was promoted to second lieutenant in 1945. Two years later, he was transferred to the Foreign Legion, in Sidi Bel Abbès, Algeria , before leaving for Indochina , where he served within the 13 thDBLE for the first time. During the battles of To Hap, Cochin China , he was commended in the Army Order and received the TOE War Cross.
After serving in Algeria for sometime within the 3 rd Foreign Parachutists Battalion, he returned to Indochina in 1953. Commanding a company of the 1st BEP with the rank of a lieutenant, he was wounded several times during confrontations in Ha Dong, Hung Yen and Ban Lun. He was parachuted on 21 November 1953 at Dien Bien Phu , where he headed his unit in extremely bloody battles. He was made Knight of the Legion of Honour in January 1954. Barely a few days after he was promoted to captain in April 1954, he was captured and taken prisoner by the Viet-Minh. While in captivity, he was elevated to the rank of Officer of the Legion of Honour prior to his liberation in August of the same year.
On return to Algeria , Captain Martin led his unit in an outright campaign against the ALN combatants, in the Aurès Nementcha and Algérois, during which several enemy units were disabled.
In the Autumn of 1956, within the framework of the Alpha Force, he participated in the Suez expedition where he once again distinguished himself. Three months later, on return to Algeria , he served as a commander within the 1st REP and recorded outstanding feats of arms in the Djebel Mountains against rebel units. He was then promoted to Battalion Commander, awarded the military bravery cross, and lifted to the rank of Commander of the Legion of Honour.
On return to Europe , he spent sometime in Germany , and later on served in the 126 thRI of Brive la Gaillarde before quitting the army in 1963 due to the after-effects of his war injuries. The new page of civilian life which opened to him witnessed him serve successively as a senior official and technical adviser in Vietnam , Yemen and Congo . He ended his career in Gabon , in 1990, as President Omar Bongo’s adviser.
During his 18 years of service, 12 of which were spent in the Foreign Legion, the volunteer serviceman Louis Martin heaved himself up the military ladder exclusively by merit of war bravery. He was wounded on five occasions and commended fourteen times in the Army Order. He holds the most honourable military distinctions, with the most recent being the Cordon of the Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour which he received in 2005.
Commandant Louis Martin died on Monday, september 19, 2005, at the age of 81.
Information communicated by Union Nationale des Parachutistes (National Union of Parachutists) and translated freely by FNCV.