Three of the Last WWII Screaming Eagles
As a native Dutchman born and raised in the Netherlands, the history of World War II has always been important to me. The sacrifices made by the Allied Forces for the liberation of the Dutch people is taught in school since childhood and the legacies of these heroes are honored every May on Remembrance Day. Many parents, including my own, who endured the hardships of war as children, pass on their stories to ensure we never forget the true cost of freedom. You can say it's instilled in the Dutch people to remember our liberators and to appreciate those men and women who fought for us. It is the highest form of respect.
Writing Three of the Last WWII Screaming Eagles is my personal tribute to three American men who fought valiantly for our freedom; men who to me are the perfect personification of what has been called "The Greatest Generation." However, this book is also a thank you to all who helped the Dutch overcome our oppressors in World War II. I believe so many deserve to be honored for their part in our liberation. No amount of books could contain the stories and deep gratitude we feel about these heroes who fought and died for people they had never met.
As the veterans of World War II are getting older, Three of the Last WWII Screaming Eagles is one of the final opportunities to read incredible stories based on first hand interviews. What you will hold in your hand is priceless, especially as we lose a large number of these incredible veterans each and every day. Furthermore it is equally valuable to capture more than just the war stories of those who served. I've strived to provide a glimpse into their lives before and after the war to provide a well-rounded look at their lives.
I hope you enjoy and appreciate learning about these three paratroopers who led the way for a future generation of heroes.
Photo credit: Arnoud Lathouwers
Jim "Pee Wee" Martin
G Company, Third Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Jim "Pee Wee" Martin was born in Portage, Pennsylvania, on April 29, 1921. He enlisted in the US Army in July 1942. Jim is a Toccoa original and was one of the first enlisted men to complete airborne training at the jump school, Fort Benning, Georgia.
Jim made his first combat jump on June 6, 1944, into Normandy during the D-Day invasion. His second combat jump was in the Netherlands on September 17, 1944, for Operation Market Garden. He was wounded in the ankle on September 25, 1944, and received treatment before fighting in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, where he sustained nonfreezing cold injuries.
After Bastogne, hardly recovered from his cold weather injuries, Pee Wee returned to his unit for the Ruhr Pocket Operations in April 1945 before ending up at the Eagle's Nest at Berchtesgaden in May 1945.
In September of 1945, Jim was discharged from the Army and returned home, where he married the love of his life, Donna on March 10, 1946. Sadly, Donna Martin passed away on January 11, 2019. He currently lives in Xenia, Ohio.
F Company, Second Battalion, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment
Dan McBride was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 9, 1924. He enlisted in the US Army and completed basic training at Camp Wolters, Texas. In November of 1942 he completed jump training at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Dan made his first combat jump on June 6, 1944, into Normandy during the D-Day invasion. His second combat jump was in the Netherlands on September 17, 1944, for Operation Market Garden. He was then sent to fight in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.
Regardless of being wounded three times (D-Day, June 12, 1944 | Market Garden on The Island, Oct 1944 | Bastogne, January 1945), Dan McBride remained with his unit throughout the war. He would go on to fight in the Alsace Operations (Feb 1945), the Ruhr Pocket Operations (Apr 1945) and ended up in Berchtesgaden (May 1945).
On September 22, 1945, Dan was discharged from the Army and returned home. He married his bride Ann on December 4, 1945. Sadly she passed away on September 5, 2000. He currently lives in Silver City, New Mexico.
HQ Company, 3rd Bn, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment
Richard "Dick" Klein was born in Huron, Ohio, on January 9, 1923. He enlisted in the US Army in December 1942 and started basic training at Camp Toccoa. Afterwards, he earned his paratrooper wings at the parachute school at Fort Benning, Georgia.
He made his first combat jump on June 6, 1944, into Normandy during the D-Day invasion. His second combat jump was in the Netherlands on September 17, 1944, for Operation Market Garden. He then joined the brutal fighting in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, where he was severely wounded in the thigh on December 20, 1944, which ended his participation in the war.
Dick Klein was discharged from the Army in November of 1945 and returned home. He married his lovely bride June on September 17, 1949. They continue to enjoy their lives together in Sandusky, Ohio.