Published on 10/1/2014
If you’re looking to help solve a great mystery, this is one for the ages! I’m reaching out to the public for help, and am hoping to crowd-source some missing photographs.
I’m the grandson of the late Col. Maurice L. Martin (USMA Class of 1943, pictured right), who was a fighter pilot in 3 wars including WWII. “Colonel,” as my extended family called him, had quite a career in the US Air Force. After graduating from West Point, he went to Germany at the end of WWII, and quickly climbed the “ladder” of the military, and was a commander by 1947.
Later, he went on to become the third Athletic Director for the Air Force Academy from 1960 – 1963, and oversaw the building of the Falcon’s stadium!
In November, 1946, my grandfather got married in Germany. But this is where the story really gets interesting!
Because of his rank and influence, many of the higher-ranking fighter pilots who were in Germany at the time attended his wedding.
Little did anyone know that the hired photographer was there to spy on the wedding guests, and was going to try to pass the wedding photos over to the Russians! The wedding photographer was later captured (with the photos) after trying to enter a Russian zone. The photos were classified, we think under the photographer’s name (which we do not have).
After several family members have spent years researching where these photographs might have turned up, and after I’ve spent months writing emails to various museums, the National Archives, and various Air Force historical associations, as well as countless hours on Google, I’ve decide to reach out to the public for crowd-sourced help in finding any photographs of my grandfather – but especially for help in finding any possible wedding photographs!
Here’s a snippet of Col. Martin’s career around the time that he got married:
- 2 October 1944 (Captain): 390 Fighter Squadron
- 1945 (Major): 9th Air Force
- November 23rd, 1946 – Got Married
- February 1947 (Col): Commander, 86th Fighter Group
The wedding was at St. Peter’s Church in Fritzlar, Germany, and the reception was at the Fürstenhof Hotel, in Bad Wildungen.
This is an interesting account from one of my aunts before my grandmother passed away several years ago:
Mom had found out from one of their friends at the Pentagon (while dancing with him at some affair) that he had seen their photos in Classified documents that at that time were still classified. He told mom that he had seen her wedding photos. She replied that their weren’t any because of bad developments and he told her that they had been sold to the Russians. When I searched, with help from a member of the Armed Services Committee in Congress, I was told that the documents were no longer classified but that they were filed under the name of the Russian spy who had them when captured, so we needed his name to find them.
No additional information is known about the photographer. At one time, I believe someone in my extended family contacted St. Peter’s Church to ask if they have any records from that time period, and learned that they do not. However, I have not directly corresponded with the church (nor do I speak or understand German).
If you, or someone you know, might be able to help me locate these wedding photographs, please leave a comment below, or contact me. Thank you in advance!