The new temporary exhibit, Eighth Air Force and D-Day through Images and Memories, opened on 26 April 2019. This exhibit begins with a photographic mural and text to summarize the role of the Eighth Air Force in the months leading up to and during the 6 June 1944 Normandy invasion. The role of the Eighth Air Force in attaining air superiority is emphasized. Three additional photographic murals, Controlling the Sky; History Was Made by Day, 6 June 1944; and Aftermath, provide more detailed information. The B-52 vertical stabilizer is wrapped in cloth printed with intelligence photographs of the Normandy beaches. The original framed 1944 photographic panorama of the Normandy coastline is also on display. It was prepared by photo technicians at USSTAF at the request of Intelligence officer, Lt. Col. John Leggett, Jr. Display cases hold artifacts and documents kept by Eighth Air Force veterans. Highlights include S/Sgt. Robert H. Crocker’s A-2 jacket with its red bomb to represent his D-Day mission as a tail gunner in the 467th Bomb Group; 56th Fighter Group Ace, Lt. Col. Francis S. Gabreski’s B-4 Bag; and 55th Fighter Group Pilot, Maj. Edward B. Giller’s flight helmet, goggles, leather flight gloves and RAF Escape Pattern boots, which convert to shoes. An oral history center allows visitors to hear four Eighth Air Force veterans tell their memories of OVERLORD. The case adjacent to the oral history station includes the Map of Assembly Routes and FRAG Order which Maj. Theo Diltz carried as Formation Commander of “96B Group” on the first mission of 6 June 1944. Maj. Diltz describes his role in an oral history excerpt. In the same case are two Nickels (leaflets) identical to those dropped at dawn on 6 June 1944 to warn French citizens near the invasion coast to go to open areas for safety. Lt. Belton Wolf describes flying this 422nd Bomb Squadron mission in a recording for visitors. Cpl. John L. Fridell describes his care of 93rd Bomb Group B-24 Sleepy Time Gal
on D-Day, and Lt. Robert H. “Punchy” Powell tells of flying his P-51 on D-Day. This exhibit demonstrates the significance of the Roger A. Freeman Eighth Air Force Research Center’s collection since all that is on display is from this collection.
Photo caption: Exhibit Frontispiece