Saturday, November 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

93-year-old D-Day vet reenacts jump over Normandy 70 years later

On June 6, 1944, a 23-year-old Jim ‘Pee Wee’ Martin parachuted down onto Utah Beach, France, just hours before the D-Day force launched across the English Channel. Seventy years later, the veteran paratrooper reacted the same jump to mark the 70th anniversary of invasion of Normandy, a day that heralded the beginning of the liberation of Europe from Hitler during World War II.

Jim Martin lands after he performed a tandem parachute jump on to Utah Beach, western France (AP Photo)

Martin was a private first class with the elite 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. He said he wanted to make the jump again because he may be the last man from his division to ever do it again. “To tell you the truth, riding around in the plane is boring. It’s when you get off the plane, that’s when it gets exciting.” Martin told CNN, “but there’s no fear to it. It’s just something you do.”

Jim Martin leaves the landing area after he performed a tandem parachute jump. (AP Photo)

According to his regularly updated Facebook page, Martin fought for 43 days as part of the Normandy campaign before parachuting into Holland in ‘Operation Market Garden,’ fighting at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge and finishing off by taking Berchtesgaden, which was the site of Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest.” He was later awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.

See powerful images of D-Day

“The one thing I want to emphasize is that we were not heroes. A hero is someone not expected to do something,” he told CNN. “We just did what we trained to do.”

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Isabelle Raphael
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