A U.S. Army paratrooper who parachuted into Normandy on D-Day 70 years ago today relived his jump into what was once considered enemy-occupied territory.
Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, who now lives in Ohio, was part of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division that parachuted down over Utah Beach on June 6, 1944, in a mission to retake France and the rest of Europe that was occupied by Nazi Germany, CNN reports.
Now 93-years-old, Martin called the jump a lot easier than his initial descent onto the beach.
“It didn’t (compare),” Martin said in an interview with CNN, “because there wasn’t anybody shooting at me today.”
Martin and his comrades were met with heavy fire in 1944 when they landed right in the middle of the German reinforcements, CBS News reports.
This year, Martin’s visit to Normandy was met by a swarm of reporters and people who asked for his autograph. But Martin said he came to honor his comrades with whom he served.
Martin said he’s “humbled and embarrassed at the adulation because I don’t feel we did anything that we weren’t supposed to do or anything exceptional.”
His jump, however, was motivated by ego, he said. And if he gets the chance to return next year to jump again, he said he will.
“I just want to show all the people that you don’t have to sit and die just because you get old,” he said.