A notable historic aircraft, the C-47 “That’s All, Brother,” made an unscheduled trip from its home base in San Marcos, Texas, to Dayton, Ohio, on March 17, 2019, to visit and honor World War II veteran Jim “Pee Wee” Martin. Martin is one of the last remaining “Toccoa Originals,” U.S. Army paratroopers made famous by the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers.”
After learning that deteriorating health would prevent Martin, 97, from making a planned trip to France for the 75th anniversary of D-Day, volunteers with the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) decided to take the airplane to him. Martin was expected to join the restored “That’s All, Brother” along with other vintage aircraft this June as part of the commemorative events.
He was especially looking forward to seeing “That’s All, Brother.” In 2015, Martin helped with a campaign to save the aircraft from being scrapped and supported efforts to restore the C-47.
“The round trip was about 2,000 miles and took 14 hours,” said Joe Enzminger, Wing Leader of the Central Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, the organization that cares for the aircraft. “Despite the challenges, we wanted to take the aircraft to Ohio to make sure Jim Martin had a chance to see the finished restoration and fly in the aircraft that carried him into France in 1944. We are proud to have an opportunity to honor his contributions in combat and personally thank him for sharing his story with others.”
“It’s extraordinary to imagine that 75 years ago, a young Jim Martin was preparing to jump into enemy territory from one of the aircraft following “That’s All, Brother” across the English Channel into France,” said Doug Rozendaal, chief of staff of the Commemorative Air Force and a “That’s All, Brother” pilot. “Connecting the tremendous courage and sacrifice of the Greatest Generation to future generations will be the ongoing mission of this aircraft, and the enduring legacy of Jim Martin. We must never forget.”
“I’m not usually emotional, but I’m emotional today,” said Martin after his flight on ‘That’s All, Brother.” “People don’t realize what could have happened and people don’t realize we could have lost the war. I’m very proud to have been part of history.”
After visiting Martin in Ohio, “That’s All, Brother” will tour the country before departing for Europe. Along the way, the aircraft will stop in Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Delaware, and will leave from Oxford, Connecticut. This aircraft will be joined by 17 other American C-47s for the crossing of the Atlantic.
The American fleet of C-47s, known as the D-Day Squadron, has spent years preparing for the epic journey. The D-Day Squadron will participate in “Daks Over Normandy” an event that commemorates the Allied invasion of Normandy by flying aircraft from Duxford, England into France with more than 200 paratroopers jumping into the historic drop zones, all wearing World War II era uniforms.
About Jim “Pee Wee” Martin
A member of the 101st Airborne, Jim Martin earned his nickname “Pee Wee” as the smallest man in the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, the regiment made famous by HBO’s “Band of Brothers.”
Martin participated in several historic missions, including the Normandy Invasion, Operation Market Garden, and the Battle of the Bulge.
Martin is one of the last remaining veterans of the 506th.
In 2014, Martin parachuted into France again as part of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion. Martin continues to serve as a representative of the veterans of the 101st Airborne Division who are no longer here to promote and preserve the legacy and lessons of the Second World War.
About That’s All, Brother
“That’s All, Brother” is a C-47 troop carrier aircraft that carried the crew that led the main force of paratroopers into France during the D-Day Invasion on June 6, 1944.
After the war, the aircraft was sold as surplus and its contribution to history forgotten. It was discovered by a historian in a boneyard in 2007, destined to be scavenged for parts or converted into a more modern aircraft.
The Commemorative Air Force purchased the aircraft in 2015 after a successful Kickstarter campaign and subsequently raised several million dollars to fund a complete restoration of the aircraft to its June 6, 1944 configuration. It flew for the first time since its restoration in January 2018, and will return to France in June 2019 for the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day.