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Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and many war veterans from our nation’s Greatest Generation are returning to the beaches of Normandy to honor their fellow soldiers and to reminisce on the significance and struggles of their achievement.
One of those veterans, Jim Martin, will land on the beaches of Normandy the exact same way he did 70 years ago: by parachute. Martin, 93, was a private in the 101st Airborne, and he was one of the paratroopers dropped behind the German lines hours before soldiers landed on the beach.
With what might be the most hardcore, badass quote ever, Martin recalls the D-Day mission.
From CBS News:
Asked what was going through his mind as he slowly descended through the clouds into hostile territory, Jim says, “Fascination, because of all of this fire coming up towards us.”
“It was absolutely fascinating to see all these various colored tracers coming up there,” he says.
While their mission was to keep the Germans from reinforcing their fellow soldiers on the dunes, the paratroopers unfortunately landed directly in the middle of the German troops.
“That was a slaughter house,” he recalls. “There was SS all over the place, and they just slaughtered us. My colonel was lost. My company commander was lost.”
Despite being told the fighting would only last a few days, the paratroopers ended up having to battle the Germans for a month.
“That’s the way we were trained, we accepted that,” Jim says. “And no matter how many people are there against you, what the odds are doesn’t matter. We’re going to win.”
Now, Martin will make that same jump–just 70 years later, and under peaceful conditions.
Best of luck, Jim. You’re a true American hero. Thank you for your service.