Remembering one of the last World War II veterans, Jim “Pee-Wee” Martin
Jim “Pee-Wee” Martin, a local WWII veteran, passed away on Sunday, September 11, 2022. He was 101 years old.
Martin was among the last of what are known as the “Toccoa originals,” the men who joined the 101st back in 1942 at its formation. He was with the division when they landed in Normandy on D-Day, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, liberated a concentration camp, and even helped seize Adolf Hitler’s Bavarian home.
While many would consider Martin and the 101st Airborne as heroes, he didn’t share this sentiment.
“If you volunteer for something and you’re trained for it and you get paid for it, you’re not a hero,” Martin said in 2020 in an interview here on WYSO.
He shared similar thoughts in 2015 on Veterans Voices.
“I'm nothing special,” He told Veterans Voice’s Jeremy Dobbins. “I am a representative of our unit. I feel it was an obligation to go. I do not consider it a sacrifice. I considered it an honor and a privilege to have been a part of history. Look what I've gained and where I've been, what I have done. It's just phenomenal.”
Martin got the nickname “Pee-Wee” from his fellow paratroopers for being the lightest paratrooper in his division. He accepted the nickname as a badge of respect.
“I miss ‘em,” Martin said of his late comrades in an interview that aired on WHIO. “And for 50 years after the war or longer, we kept friendships. Now I’m probably one of the very last originals.”
At the end of the war, Martin returned to Ohio. His biggest priority was to settle down and live a quiet life, he told The Dayton Daily News in 2014.
He settled in Sugarcreek Township in Greene County and remained there for the rest of his days.
But in 2014, on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, Martin was back in Normandy jumping out of planes. He was 93 years old.
“People have the idea that just because you get old, you can't do anything,” Martin said in an interview on “Veteran of the Day,” a show put out by the VA. “And there's two elements to it. One: yeah, it's a little ego on my part to say, you know, hell yes, I can do it. And the other is to show people that just because you get old doesn't mean you have to sit around, die.”