D-Day Veteran of the a hundred and first Airborne, Jim ‘Pee Wee’ Martin, Dies at 101

On June 6, 1944, James Martin was among the many first Allied paratroopers to leap into Normandy with the a hundred and first Airborne, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. At 19 years outdated, he had skilled for that second since becoming a member of the Army in 1942. His unit’s goal was to seize two bridges and maintain the Germans from sending reinforcements to the seashores.

He instructed the Dayton Each day News in 2014 that his important purpose after the conflict, ought to he survive, was to discover a plot of land, cool down and dwell a quiet life. When he got here dwelling, he discovered that plot of land in Sugarcreek Township, Ohio. He died there on Sunday, in response to the Each day News, after residing the quiet life he promised himself.

He joined the Army not lengthy after the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor. He initially needed to enlist within the Navy, however there was a six-month wait to get in, so he joined the Army as an alternative. He ended up at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, the place he skilled to be a brand new sort of soldier, a paratrooper. Whereas there, he additionally received a brand new nickname: “Pee Wee” for his small stature.

Martin not solely survived D-Day; he would later drop into occupied Holland throughout Operation Market Backyard, discover himself surrounded by Nazis on the Battle of the Bulge and combat his approach into Germany, the place he helped seize the Berghof, Adolf Hitler’s non-public dwelling.

The a hundred and first briefly ready to return to america and redeploy to the Pacific Theater, the place they could have dropped into Japan. Happily, Japan surrendered earlier than it grew to become a actuality. Pfc. James Martin was discharged in September 1945. Quickly after his return stateside, he married his spouse, with whom he would keep married for almost 73 years, till her demise in 2019.

In 2021, Martin met nation singer Karen Waldrup, who carried out at his one centesimal birthday celebration. The 2 collaborated in writing a track recounting his experiences in World Struggle II. She introduced the track, referred to as “Normandy,” to him in April 2022, in time for his a hundred and first birthday.

Learn: A Nashville Singer and a World Struggle II D-Day Veteran Co-Wrote a Music About Normandy

“I requested Jim what he needed folks to recollect,” Waldrup instructed Army.com. “He stated he needed folks to do not forget that they [paratroopers] did not wish to go in there, however we had been those who had been attacked. So teenage youngsters placed on their gear to go in for freedom all over the world.”

Operation Market Backyard wasn’t “Pee Wee’s” final leap. Regardless of his purpose of residing a quiet life, he made one final leap at age 99 in Palatka, Florida. His granddaughters, nevertheless, proceed to leap in his honor.

These occupied with supporting the reminiscence of Jim “Pee Wee” Martin and the a hundred and first Airborne, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment could make a donation or buy at JimPeeWeeMartin.com.

— Blake Stilwell may be reached at blake.stilwell@army.com. He may also be discovered on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Fb.

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