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World War II veteran Jim ‘Pee Wee’ Martin celebrates 101st birthday

XENIA — People took the sky and parachuted out of historic C-47s to honor World War II veteran Jim “Pee Wee” Martin turning 101.

Martin celebrated his birthday with a “Jump Fest” a way to celebrate the hero.

Martin was a paratrooper in World War II, including on D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge.

He served in the 101st Airborne Division and is a member of the “Screaming Eagles.”

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People traveled to Greene County from across the area, state, and even country for the chance to line up and get a photo and chat with “Pee Wee”.

“It’s really humbling to see all these people here,” Martin told News Center 7′s James Rider.

This year’s event is significantly scaled down from a year ago.

Martin said when he turned 100 he didn’t know if he’d make it to 101, he explained what this birthday means to him.

“Well, it means I’m still here. I don’t know why I’m still here but I’ll take every day of it. I enjoy all the people whether they like me or not I like everybody,” he said.

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Martin is the last remaining “Toccoa original” of 1942 which was made famous by the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers”.

“I miss them and for 50 years after the war or longer we kept friendships. Now I’m probably one of the very last originals,” Martin said.

Many people in attendance wanted to thank Martin for everything he’s done.

Martin gave some advice for living a long, fulfilling life.

“We take life for granted but every day is precious. It’s a gift from somebody. Don’t use your life to try to get ahead. Use it to make other people happy. Always be optimistic. When you’re always optimistic you’re going to enjoy life a great deal more,” he said.

The Jump Fest will continue Saturday with even more people expected to come through and pay their respects to Martin and celebrate his big weekend turning 101.