(CNN) — A 93-year-old veteran who parachuted into Normandy, France, 70 years ago wanted to try to it one more time.
Paratroopers are known for their checklists, and at the top of former paratrooper Jim “Pee Wee” Martin’s list coming back to France for this D-Day anniversary, it was taking the opportunity to make one more parachute jump over Normandy.
And so with young servicemen and women a third his age, Martin suited up and prepared to board a C-47, not much different than the one he boarded in England almost exactly 70 years ago to the hour.
Like his old comrades from the 101st Airborne, Martin first parachuted into France on a dark night with enemy soldiers shooting at him.
“Everybody is scared all the time,” Martin said, “and if they tell you anything differently, they are full of crap. But you just do what you had to do regardless of it. That’s the difference.”
But if he wanted to come back one more time to the spot where he was part of history, it was not to see the relics of his past or wallow in glory. It was because of that harrowing historical time that permanently bonded together all those who shared in it. A chance to honor those who will not be coming back.
Because if Martin was going to be the last of his generation to parachute into Normandy, well, this was one for the team.
“What made me do it today? A little ego, because I am 93 and I can still do it, and also I just wanted to show all the people that you don’t sit and die, just because you get old,” he said.