Shortly after midnight on June 6, 1944, more than 13,000 Allied paratroopers dropped into Nazi-occupied France behind the beaches of Normandy, where they secured bridges and exit ramps from the beaches, providing tactical support for Allied troops that would hit the Normandy beaches that morning.
The amphibious landings began at 6:30 a.m. More than 150,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified French coast.
Codenamed Operation Overlord, the risky invasion of Normandy later became known as the beginning of the end of World War II in Europe, or simply "D-Day."
Joining Cincinnati Edition to discuss the importance of the Normandy invasion and events commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day are National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Curator Jeff Duford; Marie Angoulvant, 3D modeler and texture artist with Histovery, the French company that created a fully interactive augmented reality (AR) experience exhibit focusing on American Airborne missions on D-Day; and Air Force Museum Foundation Executive Director Mike Imhoff.
We also speak with WWII veteran Jim "Pee Wee" Martin, who parachuted into German-held territory behind Utah Beach at 12:30 a.m. on D-Day. Martin was a member of the 101st Airborne Division, one of the original "Toccoa Men" of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
The 101st Airborne was relieved and returned to England in July, after 33 days of fighting in the Normandy campaign. Jim Martin took part in "Operation Market Garden," the defense of Bastogne during the "Battle of the Bulge" and the occupation of Adolph Hitler's mountain home in Berchtesgaden. Martin shipped back home to the U.S. in September, 1945.
On the 70th anniversary of D-Day in 2014, Jim Martin, then age 93, became the last “Toccoa Original” (1942) American paratrooper to jump over Normandy.
Events commemorating the 75th Anniversary of D-Day take place throughout today and this evening at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. D-Day exhibits, including the augmented reality "Freedom from Above" interactive experience, will be at the museum through the end of 2019.
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