WWII Vets to Parachute into Normandy Again

Originally part of the Allied invasion

Jun 5, 2014
Outside Magazine

WWII paratroopers ready for drop.    Wikimedia Commons

Ninety-three-year-old Jim "Pee Wee" Martin originally parachuted into Normandy, France, 70 years ago as part of the Allied invasion of Europe. Now he's going to try it again, hopefully with less shrapnel whizzing through the air.

"They called us the tip of the spear," Martin told CBS News. "We wanted to get out of the plane quickly, because it was hitting the plane. Planes were blowing up, and we wanted to get the hell out of there." Martin was a private in the 101st Airborne, one of the paratrooper divisions dropped behind enemy lines mere hours before the D-Day boats landed. He would go on to fight in Holland, the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, and Germany.

He won't be making the jump himself, however. "They are making me do a tandem," he said in a phone interview. "They are worried about me getting hurt. I said, 'Don't worry about it. If I get hurt or I get killed, what is the difference? I've lived 93 years. I've had a good life.'" 

Martin isn't the only veteran on a quest to peacefully recreate history. He is joined by another veteran, Jock Hutton, formerly of the 13th Parachute Battalion of the British 6th Airborne Division, who will jump into a field near Ranville, along with hundreds of other British, Canadian, and American paratroopers who will reenact the operation. A meeting with the Prince of Wales will follow.

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