PRESS RELEASE – Paratroopers will perform a WWII combat jump over the skies of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on May 13 at approximately 10 a.m. as part of the events commemorating the 75th Anniversary of D-Day – the largest amphibious assault in history which led to the beginning of the end of World War II in Europe.
Weather permitting, a group of paratroopers will jump out of a C-53D Skytrooper named D-Day Doll, which participated in the Normandy invasion in 1944 by dropping paratroopers, towing gliders, flying supplies and evacuating the wounded. The public is invited to view the jump near the museum’s Memorial Park and interact with the paratroopers after they have landed.
The paratroopers are part of the Airborne Heritage Platoon based in Austin, Texas, who are experienced military jumpers, jumpmasters and parachute riggers that specialize in military static line demonstration jumps for airshows and veterans events. According to Airborne Heritage Platoon Team Leader Cael Kooken, you wouldn’t typically see a WWII combat jump during the day.“Combat jumps were usually done at night in order to surprise the enemy and take advantage of the cover of darkness to conceal the paratroopers,” said Kooken. However, the optics for viewing a jump at night are not nearly as good, so we jump during daylight hours and we’re proud to show the public a small part of what veterans have done for our freedom.”
Built in 1943 by Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica, California, D-Day Doll was delivered by the Women’s Air Corp pilots to the Army and then moved to England. As a troop transport, it carried 28 soldiers in full combat gear, and as a medical airlift plane it could accommodate 14 stretcher patients and three nurses. Today D-Day Doll, is operated and maintained by the Inland Empire Wing of the Commemorative Air Force in Riverside, Calif., and continues to fly at air shows and special events around the country. Following the jump at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, the aircraft will be travelling on to Normandy, France, to reenact and commemorate the events of June 1944. Paying tribute to WWII veterans and the sacrifices they made for our country is what it is all about, said pilot and D-Day Doll Project Officer, Col. (Ret.) Timothy Tarris.
“It is our duty to remember those of the ‘Greatest Generation,’ and we are honored to do so,” said Tarris. “Flying D-Day Doll is not only a fitting tribute to all of the WWII veterans in attendance and the millions of people they represent, but also helps to keep their story alive and educate new generations of Americans.”
At 12 p.m., the paratroopers will introduce the film “D-Day Normandy 1944” in the Air Force Museum Theatre. Theatre ticket information is available at: www.afmuseum.com/movietimes.
That same day the museum and the Air Force Museum Foundation will open a new interactive augmented reality experience titled “D-Day: Freedom from Above,” at 9 a.m. This 3,500 sq. ft. exhibit will focus on the D-Day missions of the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions in Sainte-Mere-Eglise, the first French town to be liberated, by utilizing tablets running the innovative technology “HistoPad,” designed by the French company Histovery.
HistoPad technology allows the visitor to experience the reality of the D-Day airborne invasion using an immersive, interactive augmented reality tablet. The tablet allows visitors to manipulate a series of 3D virtual relics, view unpublished photographs and extracts of exceptional archival films, interact with animated maps, and learn the incredible destinies of some of our nation’s D-Day heroes. The U.S. premiere of this exhibit has been made possible in association with the French Airborne Museum of Sainte-Mere-Eglise, in Normandy.
Beginning May 13 and continuing through the end of the year, tablets using the HistoPad technology will be available to rent through the Air Force Museum Foundation for a fee of $5. Visitors should allow about 40 minutes to tour the D-Day exhibit, but can also customize their own pace by selecting content that is most relevant to them.
Finally at 6:30 p.m., the Air Force Museum Theatre in partnership with Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation and the Royal Air Force Museum, will host the U.S. premiere of the film “Secret Spitfires” as part of a Living History Presentation in the Air Force Museum Theatre. The film examines the story of how the British were able to build Spitfire aircraft in secret, as rural towns and cities south of England became a major manufacturing center for building these aircraft. Spitfires were hidden in sheds, garages, back gardens, bus depots and even a hotel. With a workforce mainly made up of unskilled young girls, boys, women, elderly men and a handful of engineers, thousands of Spitfires were built, and became instrumental in winning the war. Filmmaker Ethem Cetintas will be present to speak before and after the film. Admission is $12 ($10 for Friends Members).
The museum will also commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day on June 6 with a wreath laying ceremony, C-47 flyover; 101st Airborne Division reenactors; military vehicle display; special collections exhibit in the WWII Gallery; D-Day films and a Living History Presentation in the Air Force Museum Theatre.
Museum visitors can currently view a C-47 painted with large black and white invasion stripes like those used to transport paratroopers and tow gliders on D-Day; a CG-4 glider like those towed behind C-47s and released to land troops and equipment; and a variety of special uniforms and equipment used by paratroopers in the WWII Gallery. Additional content will be added in the coming months to further explain the USAAF’s involvement during D-Day.
For additional information on the museum’s D-Day events and exhibit, including complete schedule information visit https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Upcoming/Events/D-Day-75th-Anniversary/.
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, is the world’s largest military aviation museum. With free admission and parking, the museum features more than 350 aerospace vehicles and missiles and thousands of artifacts amid more than 19 acres of indoor exhibit space. Each year about one million visitors from around the world come to the museum. For more information, visit www.nationalmuseum.af.mil.