Harold Douglas Martin – Major, United States Army


In an era marked by racial segregation, Norwich moved toward integration when it admitted Harold “Doc” Martin as the school’s first African American student in 1916. After graduating, Martin served as a teacher, coach, and athletic director at several black universities before enlisting in the Army Air Force during World War II. He directed the ground school at Tuskegee Air Field before his death in 1945.

Martin at Norwich

In 1916, a member of a Boston-area scholarship committee wrote to Norwich on Martin’s behalf to inquire if the school would consider admitting him. The response was positive, and Martin excelled at Norwich. He majored in electrical engineering and played on the school’s baseball, hockey, track, and football teams. He also played the mandolin, conducted the band, sang in the Glee Club, served on the student council, and contributed to the War Whoop as the student paper’s athletic editor.

Martin as Educator

Upon graduating, Martin accepted an electrical engineering position at the Westinghouse Corporation, but the company rescinded their offer when they realized his race. He then launched a teaching and coaching career at African American schools in the South. He earned a master’s degree in physical education from New York University in 1932, and later directed the health and physical education program at Miner Teachers College, the principal school for training black teachers in Washington, D.C.

Martin’s Army Career

Martin’s life changed significantly after the United States entered World War II. In 1942, he was granted a leave from Miner Teachers College to join the Army Air Force. He rose to the rank of major and served as the director of the ground school at Tuskegee Air Field in Alabama, a new segregated training base for African American pilots. The Tuskegee Airmen’s superior fighting record in the war helped to bring about the future integration of the armed forces. In March 1945, Martin was killed in a military plane crash during a flight over North Carolina. He was buried with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

1899 – Born in Boston, Mass.
1916 – Graduates from Boston Latin School, Boston, Mass.
1916–20 – Studies electrical engineering at Norwich
1917-18 – Stars on Norwich’s state championship football team
1920 – Employment rejected by Westinghouse Corp.
1921–27 – Teaches at universities in Richmond, Va., and Raleigh, N.C.
1927 – Marries Beatrice C. Boyd; they have twin sons
1927–32 – Athletic director at Va. State Univ.
1932 – Earns NYU master’s degree
1932–42 – Teaches at Miner Teachers College, Washington, D.C.
1942 – Joins Army Air Force
1943–45 – Director of ground school at Tuskegee Air Field
1945 – Dies in a military plane crash
1984 – Elected to Norwich Athletic Hall of Fame

Many a football victory has been due to [Martin’s] slipperiness — now you see him and now you don’t; that’s him on the gridiron. Norwich War Whoop


  • DATE OF DEATH: 03/23/1945

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