May 11, 2004
Phoenix - The Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force has announced the opening of "The Normandy Invasion," a special limited-run exhibit to memorialize the 60th anniversary of Operation Overlord -- commonly known as D-Day -- the Allied invasion of Europe on June 6, 1944, during World War II.
No single event is more credited with the end of Nazi Germany's domination of Western Europe than the Allied landings in Normandy in the early hours of June 6, 1944. Led by a vast airborne armada of paratroopers and glider-borne troops, hundreds of thousands of soldiers from the United States, Great Britain, Canada and France landed on beaches along the French coast to secure a beachhead from which the Allied armies would sweep across France, Belgium and Holland and eventually into Germany itself. This massive effort would see an end to the conflict in Europe some eleven months later.
D-Day -- the day designated for the massive planned assault -- was an enormous undertaking. By the first evening following the landings, the Allies had put ashore approximately 155,000 troops along with 20,000 vehicles; the count for killed, wounded or missing was reported at 10,000, far less than anticipated.
The air campaigns leading up to D-Day played an important role in the crusade to free Western Europe from German occupation. For months before the actual landings, American and British bombers attacked roads, railroad facilities, munitions factories and other military targets to hinder the German Army's ability to respond to the landings. Allied fighters sortied over France to cripple German airpower. By the time of the landings, virtually no German aircraft were present to oppose the Allies. Moreover, the very first troops to set foot in occupied France were those paratroopers transported by air across the English Channel. The Normandy Invasion exhibit will feature a number of aircraft, military vehicles and numerous artifacts of that period, as well as recreations of the invasion beaches.
"We need to remember the beginning of the end of W.W. II and the men and women involved with an event as momentous as the Normandy Invasion," says Jeff Furnari, Director of the Arizona Wing CAF Museum. "To see just a part of what the first invasion day was like can shed some insight of what the men went through to get ashore and on to the beaches."
"The exhibit presents a view of W.W. II not too many people get to experience. Making history come alive for the current and future generations is a means to commemorate recall the sacrifices made by our parents and grandparents and to keep us from forgetting the men and women who were a part of writing history itself."
"The Normandy Invasion" is scheduled to open on June 3, 2004 at the Arizona Wing CAF Museum, located at 2017 N. Greenfield Road, at the intersection of McKellips Road in Mesa, Arizona and will run through July 4, 2004. The Museum is open seven days a week, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Admission is $5.00 for adults and $2.00 for children under 14 years of age. There is no admission charge for children under six years of age. Contact the Arizona Wing CAF Museum at (480) 924-1940 for further details. All proceeds are used to support the Museum and its restoration and preservation of historic aircraft and aviation-related memorabilia.
The Arizona Wing CAF is a volunteer organization devoted to the restoration and preservation of historic aircraft that participated in the great military conflicts of the Twentieth Century.
Arizona Wing CAF Museum