Jim ‘Pee Wee’ Martin’s WWII heroics, his 100th birthday celebrated this weekend

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Martin, a Sugarcreek Twp. resident, parachuted into Normandy near Saint-Come-du-Mont behind Utah Beach on D-Day.

Parajumpers from antique aircraft peppered the bright sky on Friday to honor a Greene County hero.

The two-day celebration of sky-high proportions kicked off in Xenia Friday to honor Jim “Pee Wee” Martin’s 100th birthday.

ExplorePHOTOS: Jump Fest honors Jim ‘Pee Wee’ Martin’s 100th birthday

Martin, a Sugarcreek Twp. resident, parachuted into Normandy near Saint-Come-du-Mont behind Utah Beach at 12:30 a.m. on D-Day. 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 turns 100 on April 29.

Three historic aircraft flew over with a mass parachute drop to honor Martin on Friday. They will also jump on Saturday morning. The aircraft participating include, C-47 Placid Lassie of the Tunison Foundation, C-47 That’s All Brother and C-53 D-Day Doll are owned and operated by the Commemorative Air Force. All aircraft are also active members of the D-Day Squadron, which flew missions on D-Day and have been restored and preserved to represent their role in the Allied invasion of Normandy.

Hundreds gathered at Skydive Greene County to pay tribute to Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, who turns 100 on April 29. Martin was celebrated by a mass jump out of vintage aircraft.
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Hundreds gathered at Skydive Greene County to pay tribute to Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, who turns 100 on April 29. Martin was celebrated by a mass jump out of vintage aircraft.

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The 101st, 82nd Airborne Divisions and Golden Knights participated in the celebration.

Russ Battiato of Pennsylvania jumped twice with the Phantom Airborne Brigade on Friday. Other jumpers came from all across the country. Battiato said he wanted to honor Martin and the other living Screaming Eagles by jumping this weekend.

“I mean, not only has this guy been around for a hundred years, but look at what him and his brothers endured,” Battiato said. “The greatest generation is an understatement. We may never see all these walking history books together again.”

Hundreds gathered at Skydive Greene County to pay tribute to Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, who turns 100 on April 29. Martin was celebrated by a mass jump out of vintage aircraft.
Caption
Hundreds gathered at Skydive Greene County to pay tribute to Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, who turns 100 on April 29. Martin was celebrated by a mass jump out of vintage aircraft.

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Remaining Screaming Eagles, Bob Izumi, Tom Rice, Dan McBride, Dick Klein and Vincent J. Speranza, all in their 90s, were also in attendance Friday.

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Battiato said he is a second generation paratrooper, his father was also 101st Airborne, like Martin.

87-year-old Fred Vocatura, from Rhode Island, was one of the oldest people to jump on Friday. He was a parajumper in the Vietnam War.

“It’s so exciting (to jump),” Vocatura said. “It keeps me young.”

Hundreds gathered at the event to celebrate Martin and watch those jumping from the airplanes. There were food trucks, old military memorabilia and a chance to take photos with Screaming Eagles.

Hundreds gathered at Skydive Greene County to pay tribute to Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, who turns 100 on April 29. Martin was celebrated by a mass jump out of vintage aircraft.
Caption
Hundreds gathered at Skydive Greene County to pay tribute to Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, who turns 100 on April 29. Martin was celebrated by a mass jump out of vintage aircraft.

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Friday, Greene County Commissioner Rick Perales and his brother jumped to honor Martin. Perales said Martin is part of “the greatest generation.”

“It is important to show multi-generational respect,” Perales said. “He is a hero.”

Martin told the Dayton Daily News that he’s not a hero.

“When you volunteer for something, you train for it and get paid to do it, you’re not a hero,” he said.

Martin called his time with the Screaming Eagles the best time of his life. He said his service to his country was “damn worth it.”

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Martin said he doesn’t feel 100-years-old until he looks in the mirror.

“But even then, I don’t feel that old,” he said.

Martin has lived in Sugarcreek Twp. since 1946. He and his wife, Donna, who died a few years ago, built the house he still lives in. They paid as they went, and lived in the barn until the house was built. It took about 10 years to built their house, Martin said.

Martin served on the Sugarcreek Twp. Board of Zoning Commission for a number of years and up until recently attended most township and local school board meetings.

“I have a very good life here,” Martin said.

Martin will not be jumping in the event this weekend, but watched his granddaughter and Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Twp. Chamber President Jodi Martin, jump in his honor on Friday afternoon. He met her on the landing pad. The last time Jim Martin jumped was a year ago.

People will be skydiving all weekend to honor Martin’s service to his country and the Sugarcreek Twp. community. Five different skydive brigades from all over the country participated in Friday’s festivities. Non-professional jumpers also jumped and will jump on Saturday.

There will be comments from Army officials and local government officials on the evening of Saturday, April 24 at Skydive Greene County, located at 177 S. Monroe Siding Road in Xenia. On Saturday at 8 p.m. there will be a fireworks show donated by Russ Battiato, whose company also did the Super Bowl fireworks. Country music singer Karen Waldrup will also be performing Saturday.

Hundreds gathered at Skydive Greene County to pay tribute to Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, who turns 100 on April 29. Martin was celebrated by a mass jump out of vintage aircraft.
Caption
Hundreds gathered at Skydive Greene County to pay tribute to Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, who turns 100 on April 29. Martin was celebrated by a mass jump out of vintage aircraft.

Credit:

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