Greene County WWII hero on coronavirus: Wearing a mask is a small service compared to fighting Germans

A Greene County World War II veteran spoke about the importance of wearing a mask during the coronavirus pandemic.

Now 99, Jim “Pee-Wee” Martin was a paratrooper in WWII who said it was a “small service” to wear a mask compared to fighting Nazi soldiers.

“As a World War II veteran, a lot of us did our duty during that war. In this war against the coronavirus, I wear my mask to protect others.” He said. “Seems pretty easy. It’s very little to ask. Please do your part, and thank you for your service.”

Martin spoke in a video that Lt. Gov. Jon Husted posted on Twitter and was part of Gov. Mike DeWine’s press conference Tuesday.

Martin joined the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, in July 1942. He parachuted into Normandy near Saint-Come-du-Mont behind Utah Beach at 12:30 a.m. on D-Day.

“Everybody was all gung-ho, we’re going to kill all the damn Germans. Of course we had never been any place. We had no frame of reference,” Martin said. “People said: ‘Were you afraid?’ We were too stupid to be afraid.”

Martin later fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and he received a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and European African Middle Eastern Service Medal for his service.

Martin earned the nickname “Pee Wee” by being the lightest paratrooper in his regiment. He now lives in Sugarcreek Twp.

About the Author