XENIA — Jim “Pee Wee” Martin will be celebrating his 100th birthday in style.
The World War II paratrooper from Greene County will be honored with The “100th Birthday Jump Fest” at Skydive Greene County on Saturday, April 24.
Martin was a member of the “Screaming Eagle” 101st Airborne Division, part of G Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Its members were some of the first Allied soldiers to enter an occupied France. He also participated in Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge.
Due to his small size in stature, Martin was given the nickname “Pee Wee” during training.
The 100th Birthday Jump Fest will also honor all members of the hailed Screaming Eagles, who freed citizens from Nazi Germany’s control. Remaining Screaming Eagles Bob Izumi, Tom Rice, Dan McBride, Dick Klein, and Vincent J. Speranza will be in attendance to participate in the celebration. Each man is over 90 years old.
A fly over with a mass parachute drop that includes three historic aircraft will honor Martin. As part of the 101st Airborne Division, Martin jumped on D-Day. Aircraft owned and operated by the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) will participate in the celebration.
C-47 Placid Lassie of the Tunison Foundation; C-47 That’s All Brother; and C-53 D-Day Doll, active members of the D-Day Squadron, are the participating aircraft. In order to represent their respective role in the Allied invasion of Normandy, each aircraft has been restored and preserved.
“Collaborative efforts as these between multiple notable veteran organizations allows us to collectively fulfill our mission: commemorate the greatest generation that ever lived,” Director of Marketing, Communications and Corporate Relations for the D-Day Squadron Lyndse Costabile said in a press release. “We also launched our Young Historians Program in fall 2020, and our young members are beyond ecstatic to witness history coming alive with surviving D-Day veterans, as well, flying museums through the legendary DC-3 dropping paratroopers — all to celebrate a milestone birthday for the amazing Pee Wee Martin. We are honored to take part in this historic event and cannot be more grateful to our friends at W&R Vets for pulling this together.”
In addition to performances from WWII demonstration teams, the event will include participation from the U.S. Army 101st, 82nd Airborne Divisions and Golden Knights.
Martin’s granddaughter, Jodi Martin of Bellbrook, will be participating in the event as well. She will be making a celebratory jump from a plane and at the end of her jump, Pee Wee Martin will be there to greet her.
“He is very humble. When you ask him about the events honoring him, he says that it should be about someone else,” Jodi Martin said. “If people call him a hero, he will correct them. He tells them that he was paid to do a job.”
The event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., is free and open to the public. All attendees must abide by the event’s COVID protocols. For more information about the celebration, visit https://wandrvets.org.
A fireworks display will be conducted by Pyrotecnico FX at 8 p.m. Performances by country singer and viral sensation Karen Waldrup will be included in the event.
Skydive Greene County is located at 177 S. Monroe Siding Road, Xenia.
Reach Darryl McGee at 937-502-4534