COLORADO SPRINGS — A local World War II veteran celebrated his 100th birthday on Friday surrounded by family.
Joe Albert Martinez is better known as “Papa Joe” was born on July 3, 1920, in Trinidad, Colorado. Decades later, he’s now a father of eight, a grandfather of 10, and a great-grandfather of 11.
“We have a giant family. Having everyone here is really special to him,” Tyler West, one of Papa Joe’s granddaughters, said.
Papa Joe enlisted in the military back in 1942 during the start of World War II. His oldest son said he served until 1945 when the war ended.
“When WWII came along, a lot of people went to sign up. My dad went right along with them,” Joe Martinez, Papa Joe’s oldest son, said.
Once he got back to Colorado, he moved to Trinidad and worked in the coalmines until 1961 when they closed. From there, he moved his growing family up to Colorado Springs and started working for the Air Force Academy.
“He had to work a lot to support his family when we first moved up here. So, he had to work a lot. He had to get different jobs besides working at the Academy. Sometimes even a third job to keep up with his growing family,” his son Joe said.
Papa Joe eventually retired in 1985 from the Academy. He and the majority of his family have stayed in Colorado Springs. His wife Amy, of over 70 years, live in a home together with one of their sons.
“There is always family coming through the front door. There is always family here,” his son Joe said.