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On 75th Anniversary Of D-Day, Museum Remembers The Army Air Forces

Ken LaRock
Courtesy of NMUSAF
The Douglas C-47 and Waco CG-4A glider took part in D-Day. Both aircraft can be found in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton.

The National Museum of the United States Air Force near Dayton is marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day Thursday. There's a wreath-laying ceremony and flyover by two C-47s, the main transport aircraft used on D-Day.A host of other events are scheduled as well (see below), including reenactors representing the 101st Airborne Division, and special movie screenings.

"If it wasn't for the Army Air Forces, there wouldn't have been a D-Day," says Curator Jeff Duford.

"The reason is because the German air force had to be broken because if the German air force was viable then we couldn't have attempted a landing, and had we tried to attempt a landing, it would have failed because their fighters would've shot down our transports and their bombers would have hit our ships."

Several World War II veterans will be on hand for an evening sneak-peek screening of Sunken Roads: Three Generations After D-Day, a documentary portraying veterans returning to Normandy on the 70th anniversary of the allied invasion.

"They'll be commenting and speaking about ... what's in the production from first-hand experience," Duford explains.

The Air Force Museum last month debuted several exhibits honoring the allied invasion at Normandy.

The exhibit, "D-Day: Freedom from Above" offers visitors an interactive augmented reality experience. Using HistoPad technology (think of a tablet or iPad), visitors can experience D-Day from a first-person point of view, following along as troops from the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions liberate the French town of Sainte-Mère-Église.

A new permanent exhibit titled "Operation Overlord: D-Day" looks at the role of the Army Air Forces in D-Day.

"On June 6, 1944 - D-Day - the largest amphibious assault in history took place as more than 150,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified French coast," the museum writes in a release. "This risky invasion of France's Normandy region caused over 4,000 Allied casualties on the first day alone. Code-named Operation Overlord, the Normandy campaign led to the liberation of France and the beginning of the end of World War II in Europe."

Air Force Schedule Of D-Day Events On June 6, 2019

The full schedule and details can be found on the museum's website.

  • 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Commemoration activities including: D-Day trivia in WWII Gallery, artifact displays in WWII, and Gallery Stamp Cancellation in museum store
  • 10 a.m.  Wreath-laying ceremony with WWII military vehicles and C-47 flyover. Location: Memorial Park
  •  12 p.m.  D-Day: Normandy 1944 movie ($8, adults; $7, seniors; $6, child). Location: Air Force Museum Theatre
  •  12:15 p.m. – 5 p.m.  Reenactors representing the 101st Airborne Division. Location: WWII Gallery
  • 4 p.m.  D-Day: Normandy 1944 movie ($8, adults; $7, seniors; $6, child). Location: Air Force Museum Theatre
  • 6:30 p.m.  Living History Series movie featuring Sunken Roads: Seventy Years after D-Day ($8, adults; $7, seniors; $6, child). Guest speakers: WWII D-Day veterans. Location: Air Force Museum Theatre
Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Prior to joining Cincinnati Public Radio, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She enjoys snow skiing, soccer and dogs.