XENIA — A Greene County native who jumped from planes as a paratrooper in World War II, including on D-Day, is about to celebrate jumping into the next century of his life.
Jim “Pee Wee” Martin served in the 101st Airborne Division and is a member of the “Screaming Eagle” division as one of the first Allied soldiers to infiltrate Nazi-occupied France. In addition to the invasion of Normandy, Martin also parachuted in Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands and the Battle of the Bulge.
Ahead of Martin’s 100th birthday, a massive celebration is planned in Xenia Saturday full of paratroopers, restored WWII planes, fireworks, and a reunion of the remaining surviving members of the Screaming Eagles. Bob Izumi, 97, Tom Rice, 99, Dan McBride, 97, Dick Klein,98, and Vincent J. Speranza, 96, will all be in attendance for the celebration.
“This may be the last time this group of Screaming Eagles will be together. We want to honor them while they’re still with us,” said Dave Krasner, Founder and CEO of W&R Vets, the organization putting on the event.
The restored C-47 aircraft, That’s All, Brother, that’s been making rounds across the region the last week, and C-53 D-Day Doll, will flyover with a large parachute drop. Also expected to participate Saturday are members of the Army’s 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions and the Army Golden Knights parachute group.
The event is free, open to the public, and runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at Skydive Greene County on South Monroe Siding Road. The fireworks display will start at 8 p.m.