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Earlier this year, Paul Martin of Lyndeborough, N.H., noticed that many of the signs marking the state’s Purple Heart Trail had become faded and difficult to read. The 70-year-old Army veteran of the Vietnam War, who was awarded the Purple Heart a half-century ago, took it upon himself to get the old signs replaced with new ones. 
Earlier this year, Paul Martin of Lyndeborough, N.H., noticed that many of the signs marking the state’s Purple Heart Trail had become faded and difficult to read. The 70-year-old Army veteran of the Vietnam War, who was awarded the Purple Heart a half-century ago, took it upon himself to get the old signs replaced with new ones.  (Will Cox/U.S. Army)

(Tribune News Service) — Mission accomplished.

Earlier this year, Paul Martin of Lyndeborough, N.H., noticed that many of the signs marking the state's Purple Heart Trail had become faded and difficult to read.

The 70-year-old Army veteran of the Vietnam War, who was awarded the Purple Heart a half-century ago, took it upon himself to get the old signs replaced with new ones. He also ordered additional signs to honor New Hampshire veterans who had not been recognized previously.

In February, Martin was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He has been undergoing chemotherapy at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Calling it his "final project," Martin vowed to finish the trail, using funds previously raised for that purpose by the now-defunct state chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Last week, Martin was on hand when the trail marker on Route 3 at the Massachusetts border in Nashua was dedicated. Joining him for the occasion was his friend Claude Anshin Thomas, a Buddhist monk now living in Florida, whose name appears on the sign.

Martin said he was glad to see the trail dedicated. "It really means a lot," he said Tuesday. "I really didn't know whether I was going to be able to get it done myself or if my son was going to have to get it done."

All 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and Guam, have designated Purple Heart Trails.

In New Hampshire, the original Purple Heart Trail runs the length of Interstate 95 from Seabrook to Portsmouth and then heads west on Route 4 through Durham and across the state to Lebanon.

Lawmakers added the "Buckingham Spur," the portion of Route 3 that leads to the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen. It was named after Byron Buckingham, a World War II veteran who had worked with legislators to create the trail here.

In 2012, another state law added all of Route 3, from the Massachusetts line to the Canadian border, to the Purple Heart Trail.

Martin said he hopes to be able to travel to Pittsburg in the spring to dedicate the northern end of the Purple Heart Trail, "if the guy upstairs gives me some time."

swickham@unionleader.com

(c)2021 The New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.)

Visit The New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.) at www.unionleader.com

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