Jim Martin, 93, did a tandem parachute jump from a plane over Utah Beach in France on Thursday, but he wasn't just checking off something from his bucket list. Martin was commemorating the first time he had made the jump, 70 years ago.
"It didn't [compare]," Martin told CNN, "because there wasn't anybody shooting at me today."
Martin, 23 at the time, was among a few dozen members of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division that parachuted over Utah Beach into enemy-controlled territory the night before the invasion of Normandy.
As part of the ceremonies to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day, several veterans parachuted over Utah Beach, but Martin was the only one from his generation to jump.
CNN has a poignant video report covering Martin's big day, or as he wrote on his active Facebook page , titled Jim "Pee Wee" Martin (G/506), "For me, this will be the 'day of days.' One long anticipated…'Okay, let's go.'"
"Everybody [was] scared all the time, and if they tell you anything differently they are full of crap," Martin told CNN about the D-Day mission 70 years ago. "But you just do what you had to do regardless of it. That’s the difference.”
Martin says he fought for 43 days as part of the Normandy campaign before being part of an invasion of Holland and the Battle of the Bulge, according to his Facebook writings.
"We just did what we trained to do," he told CNN.
On Thursday, jumping from a plane over Utah Beach seemed like old hat to Martin. It was anything but scary.
"To tell you the truth, riding around in the plane is boring," he said. "It’s when you get off the plane, that’s when it gets exciting…But there’s no fear to it. It’s just something you do."
Martin admitted to being motivated by ego and wanting to prove he could still parachute at age 93.
"And also I just want to show all the people that you don't have to sit and die just because you get old," Martin told CNN. "Keep doing things."
Mission accomplished, Pee Wee, mission accomplished.
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