(WKRN) — WWII veteran James Martin died this month at 101 years old. His life on this earth was an inspiration for many. This week soldiers from Fort Campbell made the drive to Ohio to say a final goodbye.
Martin was the lightest man in his regiment. His friends called him “pee wee,” but his impact on this world was anything but small.
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Martin enlisted in 1942. He was one of 6,000 men to train as a paratrooper, defending the free world from Hitler’s advance.
He served his country in critical phases of the war, including the Battle of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge.
Eventually, Hollywood told his war stories in the well-known series Band of Brothers. But Martin’s life after the war was a simple one. He married his sweetheart, had five kids, and built a life on 52 acres just outside Dayton, Ohio.
Although his military career had come to an end after WWII, his inspiration to his fellow soldiers continued. And this week, 100 soldiers traveled five hours from Fort Campbell to Dayton, Ohio to pay their respects.
“He was a positive influence. He was always looking for the bright side. He always believed in people, motivated people, invigorated people. And he didn’t want to be considered a hero himself, just a part of the team,” said Lt. Col. Dale Marrou, U.S. Army, Commander of 2nd Battalion 506 Infantry of 101st Airborne Division.
Martin’s bravery never ended. He was still jumping out of planes well into his golden years. And before his death, he wrote this message on Facebook: “My interactions with those who view this page and with many others who I have met in person over these last years has brightened my later life more than I can tell you.”
Martin’s funeral is the end of an era. He is the last surviving member of the so-called Band of Brothers.