D-Day: 93 year old makes one last parachute jump over Normandy

CNN
Friday, June 6, 2014 - 8:04am

Paratroopers are known for their checklists. At the top of former paratrooper Jim "Pee Wee" Martin's list is coming back to France for this D Day anniversary and taking the opportunity to make one more parachute jump over Normandy.

So with young servicemen and women, a third his age, Martin suited up and prepared to board a C-47 not much different than the one he boarded in England almost exactly 70 years ago to the hour.

"This is the helmet from Don Francis, who was next to you when he was shot."

Like his old comrades from the 101st Airborne, Martin first parachuted into Normandy on a dark night with enemy soldiers shooting at him.

"Everybody is scared all the time and if they tell you anything differently they are full of crap. But you just do what you had to do regardless of it that's the difference."

Private Martin did what he had to do with the 101st right up until the end of the war.

"That's my jacket."

If he wanted to come back one more time to the spot where he was part of history, it was not to see the relics of his past or wallow in the glory.  

"People think you come back and you are all emotional about it and I am not that way about it. I enjoy the people, but I am kind of humbled and embarrassed at the adulation because I don't feel that we did anything that we weren't supposed to do or anything exceptional. We just did what we were trained to do. And I think people look at us as a little more than we really were."

No, it wasn't for the glory. If Jim Martin was back in Normandy it was because of that harrowing historical time that permanently bonded together all those who shared in it. A chance to honor those who will not be coming back. 

A chance for those still alive to savor the fact that they are. 

"I am ready to see you jump. I wouldn't miss that for the world."

A moment all members of the 101st from back then would love to share because if Martin was going to be the last of his generation to parachute in Normandy, well this was one for the team.

"What made me do it today? A little bit of ego because I am 93 and I can still do it and also I just wanted to show all the people that you don't have to sit and die just because you get old."

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