More than 500 active duty soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division attended funeral services on Tuesday for former paratrooper Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, who died Sept. 11. He was 101 years old.
Martin, of Sugarcreek Township, Ohio, was one of the first paratroopers to jump on D-Day during World War II. According to a local obituary in the Dayton Daily News, he parachuted behind Utah Beach, near Saint-Come-du-Mont, at 12:30 a.m., which would make him one of the first soldiers to begin the D-Day invasion.
In response to news of Martin’s death, the 101st Airborne released a statement, saying that the number of soldiers that attended the services “displays the profound effect Martin had on the military and our nation.”
“We are deeply saddened to hear of Jim ‘Pee Wee’ Martin’s passing,” a 101st Airborne spokesperson said in a statement. “He is a true legend in the 101st and will live on forever. This division was founded on the sacrifice, valor, audacity, and grit of Soldiers like Martin.”
Martin would later fight against the German counteroffensive in the Battle of the Bulge, and received the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and European African Middle Eastern Service Medal for his actions during the war, the obituary read.
He also helped liberate concentration camps and capture Hitler’s Bavarian home, the Berghof.
After the war ended, he would live in Sugar Creek, Ohio, with his wife from the late 1940s until her death in 2019.
Zamone “Z” Perez is an editorial fellow at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa, where he helped produce podcasts. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched humanitarian intervention and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.