DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — WWII Veteran Jim ‘Pee Wee’ Martin passed away on Sunday, leaving behind a legacy that will live on forever.
The Xenia native shared a farewell letter through his Facebook page, which he wrote a few weeks after the passing of his wife Donna in early 2019.
He asked that it be posted soon after his passing, according to the post.
The letter reads:
At the time I am writing this I have lived more than 97 years. When I was a boy, I could not have imagined living such a long life. You are reading this because I have recently passed on.
My interactions with those who view this page and with many others who I have met in person over these last years has brightened my later life more than I can tell you. The level of interest shown by younger generations in our wartime service has gladdened the hearts of my WWII generation. So many of you have worked in a variety of ways to ensure that the legacy and lessons of World War Two will not be forgotten. We old veterans are aware of it and we appreciate it. We know you will continue after all of us are gone.
I thank my family and friends for the support I have been given. Many friends have visited and made sure I was never lonely. At the time of Donna’s passing, we had been married nearly 73 years. How fortunate I was to have her for so long.
I have been privileged to know a great many young people. As a result, I am confident in your futures.
As for the future of this Facebook page. Doug Barber is a (retired) history teacher and was my friend and traveling companion for many years. I leave it to his judgement as to how long the content of this page continues to serve a positive purpose now that I am gone.
Jim “Pee Wee” Martin
Martin was a member of the Screaming Eagles division and parachuted into Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The Screaming Eagles were among the first Allied soldiers to set foot in occupied France. He earned the nickname “Pee Wee” because of his small stature.
Martin was also one of the original “Toccoa Men,” who were featured in the popular television series Band of Brothers.
In Sept. 2019, a 98-year-old Martin leaped from an airplane in the Netherlands, 75 years after he helped liberate the nation as part of Operation Market Garden.
Martin jumped into Son, Netherlands on Sept. 17, 1944, and reenacted the event in a tandem jump with Art Shaffer from Skydive Palatka.
Martin was in the Netherlands as a guest of the Netherlands America Foundation, which coordinated a WWII veterans’ program as part of the Dutch nationwide, multi-day commemoration of their liberation from Nazi rule.
“I enjoyed it very much,” he said.
“I think it’s wonderful to be able to do it at the age I am and show people you don’t have to quit living just because you get old.”
Memorial services for Martin will be held at the Sugar Valley Golf/Country Club at 1250 Mead Road in Bellbrook on Tuesday, Sept. 20. Visitation will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and the Celebration of Life will begin at 7:15 p.m. On Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 9 a.m. an escort will go to the VA for burial. The escort will begin at the Sugarcreek Administration Building. All are welcome to attend.