As a 23-year-old private in the 101st Airborne, Jim Martin parachuted into Normandy, France, and helped the Allied Forces liberate Europe from Nazi tyranny.
Now, nearly 70 years after the invasion of Normandy, Martin intends to make the same jump, this time without the bullets whizzing past his head, the risk of his airplane exploding, and the fate of the free world resting on his shoulders.
Martin was one of the first Americans to fight in the European theater. "They called us the tip of the spear," he told CBS News. Martin said that he and his fellow solders couldn't wait to jump because "planes were blowing up."
Martin's mission back in 1944 was to stop the German forces from being able to reinforce troops on the dunes of Normandy. Unfortunately, Martin and his fellow troops landed among the German reinforcements, which led to "a slaughterhouse." Martin lost his colonel and company commander.
"The fighting was savage," Martin said in a separate interview with War Memories From Normandy. "There were atrocities on both sides. That's one story you don't hear. You always hear, the Germans did bad things. Well, so did the Americans. It happens in every war."
Martin wasn't finished after Normandy. He went on to participate in the Battle of the Bulge. Later, he ventured to Hitler's "Eagle's Nest" Bavarian retreat in Berchtesgaden, Germany.
Why does he want to jump again? Martin, a man of few words, told CBS News that making that jump again would give him "a great deal of satisfaction."
Martin was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star while serving in the military. On his official website, he writes, "We did not consider ourselves to be heroes. We were trained to do our jobs for our country ... and we did them.”
Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter (@mikekrumboltz).
- Politics & Government