A 93-year-old D-Day veteran jumped Friday in the skies over Normandy to mark 70 years since he first deployed as part of the world’s largest invasion force.
CNN featured Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, an original member of the 101st Airborne, a paratropper division dropped behind enemy lines just hours before the land invasion of northern France.
“Everybody (was) scared all the time, and if they tell you anything differently they are full of crap,” the former paratrooper recalled. “But you just do what you had to do regardless of it. That’s the difference.”
While he served overseas, Martin fought in Operation Market Garden, which freed the Netherlands from Nazi rule, and the Battle of the Bulge, a major counteroffensive that saw the 101st Airborne, including Martin, surrounded in the French town of Bastogne. World War II ended while he was in Berchtesgaden, the site of Hitler’s famed “Eagle’s Nest.”
If the plot sounds familiar, it is. Martin, who served in G Company, took a similar route through Europe as E Company, the focus of the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers.”
On Friday, Martin, one of the few surviving members of the D-Day jump, again leaped from a plane over Normandy.
“It didn’t (compare),” Martin said, “because there wasn’t anybody shooting at me.”
Martin landed safely and with a smile on his face.
“I’m feeling fine,” Martin told reporters moments after landing in a French field. “… It was wonderful, absolutely wonderful.”
Martin, who lives in Ohio, said he plans to make the jump again should he be in Normandy next year. He plans to keep people updated via his Facebook page.