On June 6, 1944, 73,000 American men invaded Normandy, landing on beaches and parachuting over enemy lines to liberate occupied France during World War II.
On June 5, 2014, one World War II paratrooper demonstrated the spirit of the Greatest Generation by reenacting the heroic jump he made over Normandy 70 years ago today:
Seventy years ago, Jim ‘Pee Wee’ Martin of the legendary 101st Airborne Division parachuted into France, behind enemy lines, hours before the D-Day armada launched across the English Channel.
Today, at the age of 93, the Ohio World War Two hero jumped out of a plane again to mark the anniversary of the June 6, 1944, landings as a mark of respect to his comrades of the Greatest Generation who could not be there.
This time however, despite the veterans advanced age, the jump was a whole lot easier.
‘It didn’t compare,’ said Martin to CNN, ‘because there wasn’t anybody shooting at me today.’
Martin made his jump as ceremonies to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day draw thousands of visitors to the cemeteries, beaches and stone-walled villages of Normandy this week.
The badass nonagenarian groused, “They are making me do a tandem. 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.'”
2,500 Americans lost their lives on D-Day. Now, an average of 555 WWII vets die a day, leaving us with a little more than 1 million of the 16 million who served.
Thank you, Mr. Martin, and the other brave men who stormed the beaches of Normandy and saved the world from totalitarianism. We are all in your debt.