A 93-year-old World War II veteran returned this week to a battlefield in western France the same way he first arrived 70 years ago: He parachuted in, this time carrying an American flag.
Jim "Pee Wee" Martin joined parachuters from around he world in a jump Thursday to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy by Allied forces. He completed a tandem jump onto Utah Beach in western France.
Seventy years earlier, he touched down the night before D-Day, landing in enemy territory. This time, he was greeted by smiling faces and a phalanx of cameras.
As a member of the 101st Airborne Division, Martin parachuted over Utah Beach as the Allied forces bid to retake France and, eventually, the rest of Europe from Nazi Germany. They actually touched down in enemy-controlled territory at night, before what's referred to as D-Day.
A Facebook page for Martin says he fought for 33 days in the Normandy campaign. He also was one of the defenders of Bastogne, Belgium, during the subsequent Battle of the Bulge. He was awarded a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Distinguished Unit Citation.
Martin, who lives near Dayton, Ohio, told reporters awaiting his landing that he feels "kind of humbled and embarrassed at the adulation, because I don't feel we did anything that we weren't supposed to do or anything exceptional."
Thursday's jump was fun, but no comparison to 1944, Martin told news reporters, "because there wasn't anybody shooting at me today."