SUGARCREEK TOWNSHIP — A World War II Veteran who parachuted into Normandy on D-Day will be laid to rest today.
James, “Pee Wee,” Martin was a staple in the Miami Valley, and the story of his life and service has been told to people all over the world.
On Tuesday morning, a procession took place in Sugarcreek Township. Law enforcement, military personal and loved ones gathered at the Sugarcreek Township Administration building to escort Pee Wee to his final resting place.
The procession brought Pee Wee from his hometown of Sugarcreek Township to the Dayton National Cemetery.
Before Pee Wee died, his family said he wanted one of his longtime pals, Governor Mike DeWine, to speak at his funeral.
The two shared a friendship over the past 50 years, and DeWine said he has always been amazed at how Pee Wee could bring people together.
John Burri, from Wyoming, attended Pee Wee’s past two birthdays. He lost his son in Baghdad serving in the 82nd Airborne Division in 2005.
He drove five hours to pay his respects.
Pee Wee is similar to his son— he was a member of 101st Airborne Division.
Burri, DeWine and everyone in attendance could agree Pee Wee was a remarkable man.
Pee Wee is a decorated war hero. He parachuted into Normandy on D-Day, infiltrated Nazi France, jumped in Operation Market Garden and participated in the Battle of the Bulge.
“He jumped into occupied France,” DeWine said. “What kind of guts did it take to do that?”
Burri said if Pee Wee was here he wouldn’t say he was a hero.
“He said the heroes are the ones that didn’t make it home they came home in a box or didn’t come home at all,” Burri said.
He said Pee Wee and everyone else who serves should always be remembered and believes he would be honored.
Burri said he hopes there will be a ceremony every year for Pee Wee and would have no problem making the drive from Wyoming to attend.
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