William Martin was born on January 26, 1935, in Callands, Virginia. He was commissioned a 2nd Lt in the U.S. Air Force through the Air Force ROTC program at the Virginia Military Institute on June 7, 1955, and went on active duty beginning January 24, 1956. Lt Martin next completed Undergraduate Pilot Training and was awarded his pilot wings at Laredo AFB, Texas, in March 1957, followed by Combat Crew Training in September 1957. His first assignment was with the 510th and then the 508th Fighter-Bomber Squadron at Langley AFB, Virginia, from September 1957 to February 1958, and then on the staff of the 405th Fighter-Bomber Wing at Langley from February to August 1958. Lt Martin next served on the staff of the 6200th Air Base Group at Clark AB in the Philippines from August 1958 to April 1959, and then as a pilot with the 510th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Clark AB from May 1959 to October 1960. He served with the 612th Tactical Fighter Squadron at England AFB, Louisiana, from October 1960 to February 1963, and then with the 613th Tactical Fighter Squadron at England AFB from February 1963 until he was killed in action while deployed to Southeast Asia on November 18, 1964, during a combat mission over Laos.
His Air Force Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pride in presenting the Air Force Cross (Posthumously) to Captain William Reynolds Martin (AFSN: 0-60944), United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force while serving as an F-100 Pilot of the 613th Tactical Fighter Squadron, DaNang Air Base, Vietnam, in action on 18 November 1964. On that date, Captain Martin was leading a flight of two F-100 aircraft escorting an unarmed RF-101 aircraft on a mission of major importance. As they approached the mission area, a heavy barrage of hostile ground fire was directed at the unarmed aircraft. With complete disregard for his own safety, Captain Martin reacted immediately and repeatedly flew his aircraft at extremely low altitudes over the gun emplacements to divert hostile fire. His aggressiveness and determination in pressing his attack allowed the RF-101 aircraft to withdraw safely. On his third over flight of the hostile positions, the full force of their gun emplacements was directed at his aircraft, resulting in the sacrifice of his life. Captain Martin's courage and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the American fighting man under attack by an opposing armed force. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Captain Martin reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.