FILE: Parachutists exit a C-47 airplane in a D-Day paratrooper demonstration during the Wings of Freedom air show at Hook Field in Middletown, Ohio Saturday Sept. 20, 2008. Staff photo by Pat Auckerman
Photo: PAT AUCKERMAN
Photo: PAT AUCKERMAN

Air Force Museum to celebrate 75th D-Day anniversary this week: How to go

Aircraft that helped liberate Normandy, France on D-Day will fly over the National Museum of the Air Force this week to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the invasion.

Two C-47 aircraft will participate in a 10 a.m. flyover Thursday at the museum’s Memorial Park, part of a full day of events scheduled to salute the Airmen and other service members who risked their lives on D-Day

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A C-47 “Sky King” that dropped 18 Paratroopers during D-Day along with a C-47A that transported cargo and paratroopers will be the planes to fly past the museum. The “Sky King” is from the Mid America Flight Museum in Mt. Pleasant, Texas and the C-47A is from Vintage Wings in Terre Haute, Indiana.

“That will be really cool to see,” said Denise Bollinger, the museum’s special events coordinator. “It will be a really great honor to comm the 75th anniversary of D-Day over at Memorial Park.”

Visitors to the museum can get an up-close look at a D-Day C-47 and a CG-4 glider like the one towed behind the aircraft in the facility’s World War II exhibit.

June 6, 1944 was the day allied forces launched a combined naval air and land attack on Nazi-occupied France. More than 13,000 paratroopers from allied countries were dropped behind enemy lines early on D-Day, which is commonly known as the turning point of World War II.

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Reenactors representing the 101st Airborne Division will be in attendance during the flyover and wreath-laying ceremony at the park, according to the museum. Starting at noon Thursday, visitors to the museum’s WWII gallery can interact with the 101st Airborne Division reenactors, check-out rarely seen D-Day artifacts and archival materials from the museum’s Collections and Research Divisions, and test their knowledge of D-Day trivia.

A variety of WWII-era military vehicles will be on display including four Willys Jeeps, two Dodge Command Cars, an M2 Halftrack, and a GMC 6x6 truck. Visitors will be able to catch a screening of the film “Sunken Roads: Three Generations After D-Day” which chronicles veterans returning to Normandy for the 70th anniversary of the invasion five years ago.

An interactive exhibit featuring touch screen tablets is also available for museum guests to explore.

“D-Day: Freedom From Above” opened in May and focuses on the missions of the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions in Sainte-Mere-Eglise, France. The exhibit costs $5 and is open through the end of the year at the museum.

“We are the beneficiaries of their monumental and costly achievement,” museum curator Jeff Duford said of the D-Day paratroopers. “We have an obligation to take a moment out of our busy lives to remember what they did.”

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