Most readers will recall the name of Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, the pugnacious WWII 101st Airborne paratrooper veteran who came to prominence in recent years for parachuting – deep into his 90s – from vintage C-47 transports during D-Day anniversary celebrations. Well, Pee Wee will be turning 100 years old this month, so to pay tribute to this remarkable milestone for this remarkable man, W&R Vets will be hosting what will likely be the largest birthday tribute of 2021 in his honor. The event will take place at Skydive Greene County in Xenia, Ohio on Saturday, April 24, 2021, and will feature three historic, D-Day veteran transports performing a mass parachute drop over the airfield.
Jim “Pee Wee” Martin was a member of the Screaming Eagles the legendary 101st Airborne Division, serving within G Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He gained his nickname during training, but his small stature belies the man’s incredible bravery. In addition to parachuting into Normandy on D-Day, Martin also took part in Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge. And as already noted, Pee Wee has made repeated parachute jumps despite his advanced age… feats which have proved so inspiring to so many, showing all of us that our age or physical stature need not define us…
Participating aircraft in Pee Wee Martin’s centenary celebrations will include the Tunison Foundation’s C-47A Skytrain 42-24064 Placid Lassie alongside the Commemorative Air Force’s C-47 Skytrain 42-92847 That’s All Brother and C-53D Skytrooper 42-68830 D-Day Doll. These aircraft, readers might remember, are also active members of the D-Day Squadron, which helped organize and coordinate the passage of 15 US-based DC-3-type aircraft across the Atlantic during 2019 to participate in numerous celebrations for the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
“Collaborative efforts as these between multiple notable veteran organizations allows us to collectively fulfill our mission: commemorate the Greatest Generation that ever lived,” expressed Lyndse Costabile, director of marketing, communications and corporate relations for the D-Day Squadron. “We also launched our Young Historians Program in fall 2020, and our young members are beyond ecstatic to witness history coming alive with surviving D-Day veterans, as well, flying museums through the legendary DC-3 dropping paratroopers – all to celebrate a millstone birthday for the amazing Pee Wee Martin. We are honored to take part in this historic event and cannot be more grateful to our friends at W&R Vets for pulling this together.”
Along with WWII demonstration teams, the U.S. Army’s 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions and Golden Knights are also expected to participate. Pee Wee’s 100th Birthday Jump Fest will serve as a tribute to all members of the Screaming Eagles, for their role as liberators of Europe and freeing citizens from Nazi Germany’s control. Remaining Screaming Eagles, Bob Izumi (97), Tom Rice (99), Dan McBride (97), Dick Klein (98), and Vincent J. Speranza (96), will also attend the celebration.
The host, W&R Vets is a veteran-owned, nonprofit organization based in New Orleans, with a mission to support all U.S. veterans through events and financial support. “This may be the last time this group of Screaming Eagles will be together. We want to honor them while they’re still with us,” stated Dave Krasner, Founder and CEO of W&R Vets.
This event is free and open to the public. All attendees must comply with the event’s COVID protocols. Those wanting to send Pee Wee birthday greetings can purchase an e-card at https://wandrvets.org/fundraiser. Sponsorship and VIP packages for the event are available and donations are welcome at www.paypal.me/wandrvets. All proceeds will support Pee Wee’s 100th Birthday Jump Fest. Find more information about the event and W&R Vets at https://wandrvets.org or follow on Facebook at https://fb.me/e/gMD2zZ13n or search by #JUMPFEST #JUMPFEST100 #PEEWEE100 #PeeWee100JumpFest.
Promo video: https://vimeo.com/526930150