Jim Martin, a veteran 101st Airborne paratrooper tells his story, personally on Facebook

To celebrate the D-Day anniversary in Normandy, France, 93 year-old veteran paratrooper Jim Martin once again did a parachute jump over Normandy. Mr. Martin served as a paratrooper in the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, which was vital in achieving the liberation of France and finally the rest of Europe from the Nazi Germans. Mr. Martin had landed at midnight in German-occupied Normandy just before the D-Day invasion of  June 6, 1944, which ultimately resulted in the victory of Allied powers over Germany.

Image@ Warrick Page

To share his experience of parachuting Mr. Martin went public on  radio channel, 91.3 WYSO .  He was 24 when he went to serve his nation for the coming D-Day invasion of 1944. At that time he was the oldest member of his group. Since he was the lightest member of the others in his unit he was nicknamed “Pee Wee”.

Mr. Martin went on sharing his lifetime experiences in a series of interviews co-created by Jeremy Dobbins, a Wright State University student and graduate of Xenia’s High School. Wright State University has collaborated with public radio station 91.3 WYSO so that it could shed light on the life and experiences of  military veterans who started life afresh after the war. The series is called “Veterans Voices”.

At the start of the interview Mr. Martin said: “Well, to begin with I’m here because my only claim to fame is I outlived almost everybody that was with me. So there’s nobody around right now to refute what I’m saying.”

He added: “At reunions people would ask about certain things that happened, and all of them referred their questions to me.  I’ve got hundreds and hundreds of letters that people sent me, and I’ve always sent pictures and copies of documents and that’s how it got started.”

Dough Barber, local history teacher and oral historian, was the man who interviewed Mr. Martin.  As he came to know more about Mr. Martin’s life history, he decided to make Mr. Martin much more renowned among the people, the WYSO reports.

Dough said: “Jim’s whole idea is transferring the information to the next generation.  And if you want young people to know something you have to put it where their eyeballs are. Well, their eyeballs are on social media, so we began a public-figure Facebook page as a conduit for putting his material out there. It’s just gone great guns; he passed the 15,000 followers mark last week.”

When Jim Martin’s life history came up on the internet he became famous, so much so  that he has been approached by people across the United States and Europe to travel in their countries and publicly share his military experiences.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE