Hometown Hero James "Pee Wee" Martin
James H. “Pee Wee” Martin
101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION, 506TH PARACHUTE INFANTRY REGIMENT, 3RD BATTALION,
G COMPANY 1942 - 1945
D-Day / Market Garden / Bastogne / Berchtesgaden
One of Colonel Sink's original "Toccoa Men", Jim Martin joined the now famous 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment at Camp Toccoa in July, 1942. He was soon given the nickname "Pee Wee" due to being the lightest man in the regiment. He accepted the moniker as a badge of respect. After completing their initial training at Camp Toccoa, the 506th moved to Ft. Benning for jump training and then on to Camp Mackall for further training. In anticipation of the coming invasion of Hitler's "Fortress Europe", the 506th crossed the Atlantic on the HMS Samaria. After arriving in England in September, 1943 3rd Battalion was billeted in the town of Ramsbury in Wiltshire where they completed their pre-invasion training.
Jim Martin parachuted into Normandy (landing near Saint-Côme-du-Mont behind Utah Beach) at 12:30 AM on June 6, 1944. "Pee Wee" Martin fought in the Normandy campaign for thirty-three days until the 101st Airborne was relieved and returned to England in July. On September 17, 1944 the 101st Airborne Division jumped into Holland in the leading wave of "Operation Market Garden". Jim Martin landed near the town of Son. G Company fought to secure "Hell's Highway" during this ill-fated operation. The 506th PIR was then sent to Mourmelon, France in November after more than sixty days of fighting in Holland. On December 16, 1944 Germany launched its last major offensive in the West, The Ardennes Offensive...soon to be known as the "Battle of the Bulge". The 101st Airborne Division was trucked over 100 miles to the Belgian crossroads town of Bastogne. The 3rd Battalion established defensive positions on the northern perimeter where they endured bitter cold and some of the most difficult fighting on the Western Front. After participating in operations in Germany early in 1945, the 101st Airborne Division ended their war by occupying Adolph Hitler's mountain home in Berchtesgaden, Bavaria in April, 1945. Being a "high point man" Jim Martin shipped home out of Marseilles in September, 1945.
In early 1946 Jim married Donna Veverka of Newton, Iowa. They built their own home in Sugarcreek Township and had five children. After nearly 73 years of marriage Donna passed away in 2019. Jim continued to live in their home in Sugarcreek Township until his death on September 11, 2022. At the time of his death Jim “Pee Wee” Martin was one of the last remaining “Toccoa Originals” of 1942 (made famous by the HBO mini-series, “Band of Brothers”) and continued meetings with the public and carrying forward an eyewitness account of his unit’s experiences until his death. He did so as a representative of the veterans of the 101st Airborne Division and in an effort to promote and preserve the legacy and lessons of the Second World War.
On the 70th anniversary of D-Day (2014) at the age of 93 and on the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden (2019) at age 98, Jim Martin became the last “Toccoa Original” (1942) American paratrooper to jump over Normandy and Holland.
On October 31, 2020, Jim at 99 years of age jumped out of a UH-1 Huey aircraft with the Round Canopy Parachuting Team-USA at Skydive Palatka in Palatka, Florida with “Operation Black Cat IV.” The helicopter was the same model as his son David Martin served with during the Vietnam War. His son, Roger Martin jumped out of the aircraft with his father and “Pee Wee” proudly pinned his son’s honorary jump wings upon landing on the drop zone.
In celebration of “Pee Wee’s” centennial birthday in 2020, a mass tribute jump was demonstrated by members of WWII living history parachuting organizations from around the world including the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team, Liberty Jump Team, Round Canopy Parachuting Team – USA, WWII Airborne Demonstration Team, Phantom Airborne Brigade, X-35 and retired members of the elite special forces from all services. Three historic aircraft participated in the mass drop of parachutists; C-47 Placid Lassie with the Tunison Foundation, Commemorative Air Force’s (CAF) C-47 That’s All Brother and C-53 D-Day Doll. All aircraft are members of the D-Day Squadron, which flew missions on D-Day and have been restored and preserved to represent their role in the Allied invasion of Normandy. Jim “Pee Wee” Martin’s 100th Birthday Jump Fest took place in “Pee Wee’s” hometown of Xenia, Ohio at Skydive Greene County.
At 100 years of age, Jim remained active in his community of Sugarcreek Township, voicing his opinions on leadership with wisdom and dignity. In admiration and respect for “Pee Wee’s” dedication to country and the community, Sugarcreek Township would like to dedicate a monument in his honor that resembles the strength of Jim “Pee Wee” Martin’s character…A statue and historical landmark that will remind and inspire the free citizens of the world, that the strength of a man is not measured in height and stature, but lies within his fortitude and character.
To make a donation to Pee Wee's monument fund, please send to Sugarcreek Township, Attn: Pee Wee Fund, 2090 Ferry Road, Sugarcreek Township, Ohio 45305 or visit https://4everbricks.com/donors/JPM/ .
C U R R A H E E !
(Bio courtesy of Historian Doug Barber, Board of Directors, WWII Foundation)