Air Force’s First ‘Social Media Reenactment’ of the D-Day Invasion

On the evening June 5 and the early morning of June 6, 2018, Joint Base Charleston will conduct a real-time historical reenactment of the D-Day invasion, solely on social media. Starting at 7 p.m., both the 437th and 315th Airlift Wings will start Facebook and Twitter posts as if the D-Day invasion is happening in real-time, as it did 74 year ago, through the eyes of their predecessors, the 437th and 315th Troop Carrier Groups.

In an interesting ‘virtual’ re-enactment of the D-Day airborne operations over the night of June 5th/6th, 1944, Joint Base Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina will be conducting a real-time historical reenactment of the D-Day invasion, solely on social media. Starting at 7 pm EST (or midnight in England), both the 437th and 315th Airlift Wings will start Facebook and Twitter posts as if the D-Day invasion were happening in real-time, noting precisely the actions of their brethren from 1944, when they were known as the 437th and 315th Troop Carrier Groups. “This is a great way for us to celebrate our heritage,” said Col. Jimmy Canlas, commander of the 437th Airlift Wing. “This project will give the public a glimpse of a day in the life of some real heroes that did what our nation needed them to do 74 years ago.”

C-47 Skytrains of the 83rd Troop Carrier Squadron, 437th Troop Carrier Group. C47 No 42-100578 ‘WAGS WAGON’ so called as the first pilot was 1st Lt Frank W Wagoner (SN )-801350), possibly the man standing far left with hands in pocket. Commanded by Lt Wagoner the A/c participated in Mission Detroit the 437th’s initial glider tow into Normandy on June 6th 1944. Flying Formation Position 9, the Co-Pilot was FO Kenneth L A Gavin (SN T-122873), Navigator 2d Lt Ernest B Lampron (SN 0-1017653), Crew Chief T/Sgt Francis J Fallon (SN 37152383) and Radio Operator S/Sgt James W Rudd (SN 34447203). (image & caption via American Air Museum, Duxford)

During the D-Day invasion of June 5th/6th, the predecessors of today’s active duty 437th Airlift Wing flew from RAF Aldermaston in England. Their C-47 Skytrains towed troop-laden gliders over Normandy, France. Meanwhile, antecedents of the current Air Force Reserve’s 315th Airlift Wing flew C-47s from RAF Spanhoe, also in England, dropping paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division near St. Mere Eglise, France.

Captain Richard Bettis, Sergeant Pappas and Warrant Officer Robert Barnes, all engineers of the 315th Troop Carrier Group with a CG-4A Glider. Image via William Brinson. Written on slide casing: ‘Spanhoe, Spring 1944, Cpt Dick Bettis, Sgt Pappas, W/O Barnes (Robt).’ (image via American Air Museum, Duxford)

Both wings will use their official social media to post real-time accounts and photos of events that unfolded for their respective units on D-Day. These perspectives will be drawn from historical and personal observations as well as the official histories of both wing. The “social media re-enactment” will start at 7 pm EST and run until 6:30 am the following morning. All historical posts will use the hashtag #DDayRemembered.

The 437th Airlift Wing can be found on Facebook and Twitter at 437AW and the 315th Airlift Wing can be found on Facebook and Twitter at 315AW.

A total of 821 Troop Carrier C-47s took off at planned intervals from the above bases in England. They all passed over check point Bill of Portland at their assigned altitudes at their designated times in a long string headed toward Normandy. On the evening of June 5th and the early morning of June 6th, 2018, Joint Base Charleston will conduct a real-time historical reenactment of the D-Day invasion, solely on social media. Starting at 7 pm EST, both the 437th and 315th Airlift Wings will start Facebook and Twitter posts as if the D-Day invasion were happening in real-time, much as it did 74 year ago, for their predecessors in the 437th and 315th Troop Carrier Groups. (U.S. Air Force Graphic)

Edited from Joint Base Charleston press release.

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