Learn about D-Day anniversary events

Updated March 19, 2019.
The 75th anniversary of D-Day is to be the focus of several special events in the National Aviation Heritage Area.
The National Museum of the U. S. Air Force, the Air Force Museum Foundation, Grimes Field Municipal Airport in Urbana and the WACO Air Museum in Troy are planning special programs and activities to commemorate D-Day in May and June.
D-Day was World War II shorthand for the start of Operation Overlord on June 6, 1944, when more than 150,000 American, British and Canadian forces stormed five beaches of Normandy, France. It was the biggest amphibious assault in history, and it marked the beginning of the liberation of France from Nazi Germany.
At 10 a.m. Monday, May 13—weather permitting—the Douglas C-53D SkytrooperD-Day Doll,” a restored transport airplane that took part in the invasion, will drop a group of paratroop re-enactors over the National Museum. The public is invited to watch the drop and talk to the paratroopers afterward, according to the museum.
A variant of the Douglas C-47 Skytrain and DC-3 Dakota, “D-Day Doll” is operated by the Commemorative Air Force’s Inland Empire Wing. The re-enactors are with the Airborne Heritage Platoon based in Austin, Texas.
At noon, the paratroopers will introduce the film “D-Day Normandy 1944” in the Air Force Museum Theatre. That same day at 9 a.m., the museum and the museum foundation will open a new interactive, augmented reality experience titled “D-Day: Freedom from Above.” This 3,500 square foot 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.
It will utilize tablets running “HistoPad augmented reality technology designed by the French company Histovery. Tablets using the HistoPad technology will be available to rent for $5 through the Air Force Museum Foundation. The special exhibit will run through the end of the year. Watch this video for a preview.
The day’s capstone event will be the U. S. premiere of the film “Secret Spitfires” in partnership with the Royal Air Force Museum and the RAF Museum’s American Foundation. It will be one of the Air Force Museum Theatre’s Living History presentations, featuring Filmmaker Ethem Cetintas. Admission is $12 ($10 for Friends members.)
On Thursday, June 6, the museum will commemorate the anniversary with a wreath laying ceremony at 10 a.m. in the museum’s Memorial Park. The event will include a C-17 transport plane flyover, and re-enactors will perform impressions of 101st Airborne Division paratroopers.
Also on June 6, the Air Force Museum Theatre will again screen “D-Day Normandy 1944” at 12 p.m. and 4 p.m., and host a Living History Presentation and film at 6:30 p.m. Theatre ticket information is available at: /movietimes.
At Grimes Field Airport, “D-Day Doll” will be available for rides on Sunday and Monday, May 12-13, from noon to 2 p.m.. Go here to register for a flight. The airport is located at 1636 N Main St., Urbana.
On June 6, the WACO Air Museum will screen “Silent Wings,”a film about the WACO-built CG-4A gliders flown in the D-Day invasion, at 10 a.m. and again at 6:30 p.m. in the WACO Learning Center. The screening is free and open to the public.
The WACO museum will extend its open hours on June 6 to 6:30 p.m. and will highlight its glider display. Admission will be free for all veterans, active military with an ID, and former WACO employees for this special event. Admission for others is $6 per adult and $3 per student. The WACO Air Museum is located at 1865 South County Road 25A, Troy.