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Archive for the ‘Donor Spotlight’ Category

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A CCKW truck tows an artillery piece onto a shore during amphibious training on Guadalcanal in March 1944

A CCKW truck tows an artillery piece onto a shore during amphibious training on Guadalcanal in March 1944

As we continue down the Road to Tokyo and through the Guadalcanal, we come first to two exhibits that detail why this Allied campaign signaled a pivotal point in the War in the Pacific.

Landings/Initial Operations

The U.S. military chose Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Island chain, as their first offensive campaign in the Pacific beginning in August 1942. The Solomons represented the farthest reach of Japanese territorial control in the Pacific, and would be the first of many islands the U.S. would retake in a brutal three-year island-hopping campaign to reach the home islands and defeat Japan. This exhibit space covers the initial landings, the Battle of Savo Island, the Battle of the Tenaru River, and the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. An environmental projection will augment the text panels describing these operations with video footage and still images from the battles.

Bloody Ridge

Bloody Ridge will provide an overview of the Battle for Guadalcanal through mid-October 1942. Bloody Ridge will detail the significance of the Tokyo Express, the Iron Bottom Sound, the Cactus Air Force, Edson’s Ridge, and the marine defenders as they engaged in intense warfare with tremendous dedication. The difficulty of obtaining US reinforcements and supplies (while the Japanese continued to receive both) will be emphasized, and personal items attained by soldiers based in Guadalcanal will be displayed. An environmental projection will project images and historic footage, including ambient sounds of warfare in the dense jungle background, to evoke the fierce fighting on Guadalcanal.

The Bloody Ridge exhibit within Road to Tokyo has been made possible through a generous gift from Dwight Anderson.

Donor Spotlight: Dwight Anderson

Dwight Anderson

Dwight Anderson

Dwight Anderson, who currently serves on the Museum’s Board of Trustees, is the Co-Founder, Principal, & Portfolio Manager of Ospraie Management, an asset management firm located in New York City. Dwight first became involved with The National WWII Museum through his long standing friendship with Board President Richard Adkerson. Dwight states that Richard’s “passion and enthusiasm in the way he described the Museum was infectious,” and sparked him to visit New Orleans.

On his very first visit to the Museum with his family, Dwight was indeed impressed by the content and substance of the Museum, backing up Richard’s glowing reviews. It was after this visit that Dwight decided to become more involved with institution and its expansion.

As a history major in college, Dwight believes in the importance of passing on the story of this monumental conflict to future generations. He noted “to be able to support an institution that was putting together all of the different elements of memorabilia [of the war] and also the multimedia presentations to instruct, teach, show people….that would really be beneficial.”

Dwight’s studies of World War II moved beyond his college days, as he has become an avid reader of World War II history. One of the first books that he read as he gained more interest in the war was “The Guadalcanal Diary,” a memoir written by war correspondent Richard Tregaskis. The stories of the months-long battle in the Pacific, and eventual Allied victory, inspired Dwight to make a capital gift to sponsor the Bloody Ridge exhibit within the Guadalcanal gallery.

However, Dwight’s connection to the war extends further than his studies. Two of Dwight’s great uncles fought in the war, and the souvenirs that his Uncle Eddie brought back, which Dwight used as toys when he was young, were physical reminders of the recent struggle.

Dwight shared that his involvement with the Museum has been very special. He remarked that hearing the veterans’ stories at the Museum — and the humor and humility that they bring to retelling often horrific circumstances — is very memorable and meaningful. He believes strongly that it is important that these stories are passed along to new, younger audiences. Dwight has demonstrated his belief that the depth and quality of the Museum is something that should be sustained, and his generous support helps ensure that it will continue.

The National WWII Museum is incredibly thankful for Mr. Dwight Anderson’s support as we continue to advance along our Road to Victory.




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Road to Tokyo Countdown: Life Aboard Ship

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Serving in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II presented a unique set of advantages and challenges which differed from the experiences of other service men and women. Life aboard ship was characterized by cleaner environments and the availability of better food than in the life of an infantryman. However, engaging in naval combat with the Japanese was often intense and terrifying, and required precision and level-headedness under fire. Battles had a high risk of casualties, as men could easily become trapped when aboard a sinking vessel.

As we travel through Road to Tokyo, and within the New Naval Warface gallery, the Life Aboard Ship exhibit will convey the experiences of the men and women in US Navy, from the ordinary to the extraordinary, of being onboard ships in the vast Pacific Ocean.


Donor Spotlight- Strake Foundation

George W. Strake, Sr. and Pope Paul VI

George W. Strake, Sr. and Pope Paul VI

The Life Aboard Ship exhibit has been made possible through a generous donation by the Strake Foundation.

George W. Strake was born in 1894, and raised in St. Louis, MO. He was the youngest of nine children and both of his parents passed away when he was very young. His first job was as a Western Union runner making $10 a week and putting $2 of his weekly salary into the Sunday church collection basket. Though he did not attend high school, he was admitted to St. Louis University after taking an entrance exam. Upon graduation, the United States was in World War I. He joined the Army in Florida, and became a wireless instructor in the Army Air Corps. He fell in love with a young lady from Florida but he would not marry her because “she had more money than I did.” She suggested to him to travel to Mexico as “that’s where the fortunes were going to be made.”

He followed her advice and moved to Tampico, Mexico. He began working with Gulf Oil Co. where he remained for two years. After leaving Gulf Oil Co., he began putting drilling deals together for fellow Americans. He married Susan Kehoe, from Houston, Texas. They had their first child, Betty Sue, in Houston, and they lived for a total of seven years in Tampico, Mexico.

The family then moved to Havana, Cuba where Strake sought to explore for oil but took on the Hutmobile dealership, in hopes of a quicker cash flow. Unfortunately, the dealership turned out to be an unsuccessful venture. After residing in Havana for two years, they family decided to move back to the United States. His intent was to move to Oregon to go into the timber business, but his mother-in-law became ill in Houston. In order to keep himself occupied while in Houston, Strake began putting drilling deals together in Texas. His signature accomplishment was drilling the discovery well in the Conroe Field, southwest of Conroe, Texas, in 1931. Prior to independently drilling the discovery well, he was turned down by eight major oil companies, who choose not to participate.

It was after the discovery of the Conroe Field that Strake established the Strake Foundation. This allowed him and his wife an opportunity to help many needed institutions and individuals.

George W. Strake, Jr.

George W. Strake, Jr.

The Strake Foundation continues the many charitable works that were started by George and Susan Strake today. One of their major philanthropic ventures is the Catholic Church and the Vatican. A highly significant project that the Strake Foundation supported was to fund the excavations beneath St. Peter’s Basilica, where the tomb of St. Peter was found. George Strake was bestowed the honor of Knight of St. Sylvester by the Pope. Mrs. Annette Strake’s grandparents on her father’s side, Frank & Gladys DeWalch, were also Italian and emigrated to the United States. It is because of these two facts that Strake Foundation found it appropriate to sponsor the Liberation of Rome exhibit within the Road to Berlin that opened in December 2014.

George Strake died in 1969, and his work through the Foundation has been continued by the Strake Family under the guidance of their son, George W. Strake, Jr. and their third child, Georganna Parsley. Young George graduated from St. Thomas High School in Houston, the University of Notre Dame and Harvard Business School. After George Jr. graduated from Notre Dame he was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy where he served for two years in the Pacific Fleet on an LST. This time in the US Navy inspired the Strake Foundation’s support for the Life Aboard Ship exhibit within the Road to Tokyo.

George and Annette Strake with President George Bush & his wife Barbara.

George and Annette Strake with President George Bush & his wife Barbara.

George Jr.’s love of the Navy and the United States Military began in his formative years when he was 6-10 years old during World War II. He can remember wanting to participate in the war effort with all other Americans. As a young boy he would collect newspapers, magazines and aluminum foil, taking them to the fire station “for the war effort.” He also planted vegetables for a “victory garden” in his mother’s azalea bed. His reaction was a reflection of the spirit that existed in WWII where everyone, regardless of their age, was a participant in the war effort. His uncle flew bombers in the European Theater and his two brothers-in-law, Bob Parsley and Bob Dilworth, flew for the United States Air Force and the United States Navy. George remembers his mother crocheting blankets for hours for the troops overseas. As George Jr. says, “the reason we won this terrible war, was because all Americans were involved.”

The Strake Foundation has been a generous supporter of The National WWII Museum since its opening in the year 2000. The National WWII Museum’s work helps fulfill the Strake Foundation’s mission of teaching the fact that “this is the greatest country in the world. It will not always be that way unless we are always vigilant.” We are very appreciative of the generous support the Strake Foundation provides to The National WWII Museum. George’s leadership and the foundation’s participation allow us to expand – with a sense of urgency – so we can share the stories of our WWII veterans while as many as possible are around to see it.

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Road To Tokyo Countdown: New Naval Warfare

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2-2_Briefing_RoomThe effort to secure victory over the Japanese military in World War II brought about entirely new methods and strategies of naval warfare. The availability of innovative resources and technologies, coupled with the need to devise an alternative naval approach after the US fleet of battleships was diminished by the attack at Pearl Harbor, forced naval warfare to evolve rapidly. The introduction of unrestricted submarine warfare and aircraft carrier-based combat completely changed the way battles at sea were waged.

As we continue down the Road to Tokyo, we stop next at the New Naval Warfare gallery, which will demonstrate how the United States employed these new strategies, point to the obstacles they faced, explore the key naval battles that shifted the course of the war, and share the experiences of those who served on ships, submarines, and aircraft in the Pacific.

The New Naval Warfare will include six major exhibits that will employ an array of artifacts, interactive displays, and audio visual presentations to capture visitors’ imaginations and bring the history of the war in the Pacific to life. Visitors will learn about sailors’ and aviators’ experiences in their own words through oral histories that recount battles and everyday life at sea. Throughout, the exhibits will communicate both the broad strategic complexity of naval warfare and the individual bravery and leadership of the service members who took part in it. The New Naval Warfare gallery will connect with visitors to cultivate a better understanding of naval warfare in the Pacific, and its significant contribution to Allied victory in World War II.

Donor Spotlight: Lt. Commander Alden J. “Doc” Laborde, USN

The New Naval Warfare gallery in Road to Tokyo has been made possible through a generous gift from the late Lt. Commander Alden J. “Doc” Laborde, USN.

Born in Vinton, LA and raised in Marksville, Alden “Doc” Laborde, came from a long line of determined and hardworking individuals. He enrolled at the Naval Academy in June of 1934, and reveled in the traditions and regulations. He took great pride in the marching orders, strict rules, and square meals that shaped him into a man of great patience and character.

According to Alden, the Naval Academy changed his life, and upon graduating in 1938, it was not long until WWII forced his skills into use. He served as commander of three combat vessels in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. His convoys took him through various training sites in the US to Okinawa in August of 1945, arriving on the Japanese shore a few days after the atomic bombs were deployed. He remained in Japan for a few months, sweeping the harbors, before returning to the US in December of 1945 during a time of peace.

After the war, Alden began working for Kerr-McGee Corporation, as a mine-marine superintendent. At his time at Kerr-McGee, Laborde believed that the need to build a platform for each new well site was inefficient and costly, and that it may be possible to construct a mobile, submersible drilling rig. Inspired, he left the company and found an investor, Murphy Corp., to launch the first offshore drilling rig, pulling in Shell Oil Company as his first customer.

Alden found that his new method was incredibly successful and went on to establish three listed offshore service companies during his life: The Ocean Drilling and Exploration Co. (ODECO) in 1953, Tidewater Marine in 1954, and Gulf Island Fabrication Co. in 1985.

According to his son Jack, Alden was “very passionate about what he did, but often said you could always do things better.” He surrounded himself with intelligent and dedicated employees. He preached moderation in all things and was a devoted Catholic, receiving daily communion until his death. His attitude of being “happy with what you have,” is a lesson that his family continues to take to heart.

The Laborde family first became involved with the National WWII Museum shortly after Hurricane Katrina. The Almar Foundation, which tends to focus its efforts on poverty and rehabilitation, recognized the importance of the Museum remaining open in a city facing such dire straits, and chose to sponsor the Museum’s Road to Victory Capital Campaign.

The Museum is fortunate to have the opportunity to honor Lt. Commander Alden “Doc” Laborde and his courage through the Laborde Services Gallery and the upcoming New Naval Warfare gallery in Road to Tokyo. We are grateful for the Laborde family and the Almar Foundation for their support of our programs and capital expansion.

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Road to Tokyo Countdown

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Guadalcanal Gallery in Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries

Pacific Theater Galleries

We are proud to present to you the Road to Tokyo, the second floor Pacific Theater Galleries scheduled for completion in December 2015. In combination with the first floor, the Road to Berlin, which opened in December 2014, the Campaigns of Courage Pavilion portrays the bravery, sacrifice, and sense of duty demonstrated by soldiers in each branch of the US military services in all campaigns of World War II.

For America, World War II began in the Pacific.  Although the nation’s attention had long been drawn to events in Europe, it was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that officially brought America into World War II.  The Asia–Pacific Campaign builds on that galvanizing event, following the path that leads from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Harbor by way of New Guinea and Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, Burma, and the islands of the Pacific.  Road to Tokyo will explore the evolving strategy for fighting in Asia and the Pacific, and the cultural differences and tremendous range of extreme conditions that confronted our soldiers. Galleries will include: The New Naval Warfare, Guadalcanal, Pacific Campaign Challenges, Island Hopping, China-Burma-India, Philippines, Death at Japan’s Doorstep, and Downfall.

All design for these galleries is now complete and exhibit construction has begun. In anticipation of these incredible exhibit spaces, and the completion of a major step in the Museum’s Capital Expansion, we would like to give you a sneak peek of the galleries and spotlight the generous donors who have made the construction of Road to Tokyo possible.


Donor Spotlight: Richard C. Adkerson

Museum Board Chairman, Richard C. Adkerson

Museum Board Chairman, Richard C. Adkerson

The Museum is immensely proud to highlight Board Chairman Richard C. Adkerson, who, together with his company, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., pledged $5 million.  Mr. Adkerson’s gift honors the service of his father, a Seabee in the Pacific during WWII.  Freeport’s gift recognizes its large-scale mining operations in Papua, Indonesia on the island of New Guinea. Mr. Adkerson is the President, CEO & Vice Chairman of Freeport-McMoRan.

Adkerson’s parents came from small-farm families in Lauderdale County in west Tennessee. His father,  J.W. Adkerson, enlisted immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He became a Marine and a Seabee, a support unit in the Navy best known for construction projects, and he served two tours in the South Pacific including on Guadalcanal, the Marshall Islands, the Caroline Islands and Guam.  His mother’s twin brother, William Lawton “Buddy” Thornley, served in the Army in New Guinea under General MacArthur.  Regrettably, both died during the early 1970s.  J.W. never talked much about the war, and never wanted to vacation at beaches. Years later, in his mother’s memorabilia collection, the younger Adkerson found a piece of a map of the South Pacific where his father had traced the places he had been during his two WWII tours. Richard Adkerson often landed en route to Indonesia on air strips constructed during WWII in Majuro in the Marshall Islands and Paulu in the Caroline Islands where his father once was – and these experiences would later influence his involvement with the Museum.

After graduating from Mississippi State University with highest honors, Mr. Adkerson began his career in New Orleans and, after living in Washington D.C., Houston and Chicago, Adkerson returned to New Orleans in 1989 to join Freeport-McMoRan. A few years later, Stephen Ambrose began speaking with executives at Freeport about early plans for the Museum. Adkerson expressed strong interest from the beginning. His favorite memory of the Museum is the opening on June 6, 2000, and the feeling he had watching the veterans in the parade through the streets of New Orleans and the warm, patriotic reception they so richly deserved.

Adkerson's Parents

Adkerson’s Parents

Museum President and CEO Gordon “Nick” Mueller and Trustee Donald “Boysie” Bollinger approached Adkerson about joining the board in 2002, and Adkerson enthusiastically agreed. That year the Museum’s annual Victory Ball gala fundraiser, of which Freeport was a sponsor, honored former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a Freeport emeritus board member and close friend of Adkerson’s. Adkerson left the board in 2007 when Freeport moved its headquarters from New Orleans to Phoenix, but four years later Museum Trustee Governor Pete Wilson visited Adkerson and suggested that he re-join the Museum board. Adkerson accepted the invitation, and then in June of 2013 he became the Museum’s Board Chairman.

Adkerson felt that as he assumed the Chairman’s role, “it would be a good time for Freeport and myself personally to make gifts that would help the Museum move forward in achieving our goals and encourage others to participate as well.” Adkerson and Freeport decided to donate $5 million to name the Road to Tokyo. They felt this would fit naturally with his father’s involvement in the Pacific and Freeport’s current mining work in New Guinea.  In addition, Freeport’s predecessor company played a significant role on the Home Front by supplying copper materials during WWII.

With the help of this leadership gift, we will be able to tell the complete story of the war in the Pacific.  We extend our sincere thanks to Richard C. Adkerson and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. for their commitment to the Museum’s essential mission.

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Donor Spotlight: Boysie Bollinger Becomes Museum’s Largest Private Donor

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Joy and Boysie Bollinger with Museum President & CEO Nick Mueller in the newly named BB’s Stage Door Canteen with a rendering of the Canopy of Peace in the background (Image Courtesy of The National WWII Museum)

Twenty years after first becoming involved with The National D-Day Museum, Boysie Bollinger remains tireless in his support of the institution now known as The National WWII Museum. In his work on the Museum’s Board of Trustees, Bollinger has lobbied government officials, potential donors, friends, and anyone who will listen to support the Museum. On March 24, 2015, he and wife Joy led by example with their own donation to the Museum of $20 million.

Ranking among the top donations in the country to a non-profit organization or museum, this is the largest private gift ever received by the Museum. But Bollinger, who cites humility as the quality he most admires in WWII veterans, is not looking to hold onto the top spot for long. “I would hope somebody loves it a little bit more than me—or a lot more than me—and wants to become the largest donor. I think it’s going to raise the bar. I don’t need to stay there. I’d very much appreciate it if somebody beats me.”

The gift will be used to add an iconic architectural piece to the Museum’s six-acre New Orleans campus: the Canopy of Peace. Bollinger calls the Canopy “the finishing touch” to the Museum’s expansion. The Canopy will symbolize the hope and promise unleashed by the end of WWII hostilities. Commanding attention on the New Orleans skyline, the 150-foot-tall structure will also unify the Museum’s diverse campus in the enduring spirit of the wartime slogan, “We’re all in this together!”

Expansion Rendering

A rendering of the completed $325 million campus expansion with the Canopy of Peace (Image Courtesy of The National WWII Museum)


A portion of the historic donation will also go to the Museum’s endowment, a step Bollinger noted as significant to the institution’s future. The endowment guarantees the Museum will always have a steady source of funds to support the growing campus. Bollinger, a key player in the Museum’s leadership through critical phases, has always understood the importance of expanding the institution’s campus and its reach, and his donation will guarantee the Museum can continue on this essential path.

Additionally, a reference to Bollinger’s name will go on the Museum’s existing Stage Door Canteen, a 1940s-style entertainment space that serves as a living exhibit for music of the war era. The space will now be called BB’s Stage Door Canteen. “BB is what my grandkids call me,” said Bollinger. Noting that he doesn’t want his name in lights, Bollinger adds, “Some people will never know that’s me, but those who are important to me will know. It’s very personal.”

Bollinger’s passion for the Museum is easily noted through his unwavering commitment to telling the story of the Greatest Generation. He first became hooked during a trip to Normandy while serving as Vice Chairman of the Board. “Being close to the story of World War II made me a lot more humble,” Bollinger says. “What these people did for us is mindboggling. I worked every day of my life with two uncles that fought in the Pacific, neither one had ever mentioned a word about it. It forced me to go sit with them and make them tell me their stories. I never would have had that experience without being involved here.”

Bollinger became aware of how the war affected the families left behind. He thought about his grandfather who had to become an inventor to make the most of wartime shortages. “All of these things contributed to a realization, an understanding of the circumstances that America was going through during the war. I never would have had that without being exposed to the Museum.”

Bollinger’s remarkable career in shipbuilding and his bold reputation as an entrepreneur often prompt comparisons to a famous WWII-era boat builder, Andrew Jackson Higgins. Higgins Industries in New Orleans took the lead in producing thousands of the flat-bottomed landing craft that made it possible for Allied forces to successfully invade enemy-held beaches in Europe, North Africa, and across the Pacific. It is because of Higgins that the Museum is located in New Orleans, and it is largely because of Bollinger that it became a reality. Now he will put his name on a defining piece of the campus.

When first approached about getting involved with the Museum, Bollinger was told “It won’t take you any time and it won’t cost you any money.” All these years later, Boysie knows better. He believes his work with the Museum will be central to his life’s legacy. As the Museum strives to collect the funds needed to complete its expansion, he hopes his gift will spark the momentum for others to donate. “I’ve got a lot of time invested in this Museum, going back 20 years, and it’s time we finish it,” said Bollinger. “And I hope this is the gift that helps make that happen.”

IN THE NEWS: Read more about this remarkable gift in news outlets across the country.

The New York Times: $20 Million Gift to Expand National WWII Museum

The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Shipyard Executive Gives $20 Million to National WWII Museum

The Times-Picayune: National World War II Museum receives a record-setting $20 million gift

The New Orleans Advocate: New Orleans’ National World War II Museum receives largest gift in its history from shipbuilding magnate Boysie Bollinger

WGNO-TV: Bollinger donates millions to the National World War II Museum

WVUE-TV: National WWII Museum receives $20 million individual donation

WWL-TV: Bollinger makes $20 million gift to World War II Museum

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Donor Spotlight: The Joe W. and Dorthy Dorsett Brown Foundation

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The Saluting the Services: Service Branch Cases in US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center pay tribute to the six service branches for the US Armed Forces, and the 16 million men and women who served during World War II. The six cases–highlighting the US Navy, US Army, US Marine Corps, US Army Airforce, US Coast Guard, and US Merchant Marines–display WWII-era uniforms from each branch and the stories of the individuals who wore them.

The Command Center, located in the center of the gallery, is an interactive exhibit highlighting how the many branches of the US Armed Forces worked together to secure victory. Visitors can use touchscreen technology to explore major battles and campaigns, and to view maps, archival images and associated weaponry.

Donor Spotlight: The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation

The Saluting the Services: Service Branch Cases exhibit has been made possible through a generous gift from The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation. The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation was established in 1958 with a mission of alleviating human suffering. This notable Foundation’s efforts primarily target south Louisiana, including the New Orleans area, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

D. Paul Spencers2

D. Paul Spencer, President of the Board of Trustees at The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation

Joe W. Brown and Dorothy Dorsett Brown moved to New Orleans in the mid-1920s, and their successes in real estate and the oil industry allowed them to pursue philanthropic endeavors. Mrs. Brown led the Foundation until she passed away in 1989, and the Foundation is now led by the Board President, D. Paul Spencer, along with the Board of Trustees. After Spencer completed college and his Army service, a mutual friend introduced him to the Browns and he remained their dear friend and employee for decades afterwards, up until their deaths.

Spencer is a WWII veteran of the European Theater, where he served as a platoon commander in the 90th Infantry Division of the US Army. His platoon was part of a battle in Hof during the latter part of the war, where he recalls “all kinds of hell broke loose.” He remembers a German truck crashing into the side of the road and roughly a dozen German soldiers came toward him. Spencer realized after the crash that his carbine was jammed, and the German soldiers begged him not to shoot. “Thank goodness they were not firing at me. My guys were just behind me a little bit and I was all alone. I put my hand over the cover that was exposed so they wouldn’t see that I couldn’t fire at them.”

Paul Spencer and the men of the 90th Infantry Division engaged in several battles as they made their way through Germany near the end of the war. Spencer and his fellow soldiers liberated the Merkers Salt Mine, where Nazis were hiding gold hoard, silver, and stolen art.

The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation’s loyal support of The National WWII Museum predates the Museum’s opening in 2000. The Foundation has provided significant funding for the Museum’s capital expansion since its earliest phases and the expansion has made it possible for the Museum to fulfill its mission of telling the epic story of WWII for all future generations.

In addition to generously naming Saluting the Services: Service Branch Cases, the Foundation has also sponsored The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation Special Exhibits Gallery, Into the German Homeland gallery within Road to Berlin, and a gallery in the upcoming Liberation Pavilion.

The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation is truly one of the cornerstones of The National WWII Museum’s support, and we could not be more grateful as we continue on our Road to Victory.


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Donor Spotlight: Bill and Dina Riviere

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B-24 Liberator and Norden Bombsight

The United States produced three heavy bombers in WWII, one of which was the B-24 Liberator. The B-24 has the distinction of being the most produced US combat aircraft of all time – more than 18,000 by the end of the war. The Liberator was a powerful symbol of US industrial might, armed with 10 .50-caliber machine guns and carrying an 8,000 pound bomb load.

On the floor of the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center sits the impressive B-24 Bomber and Norden Bombsight exhibit, made possible through a generous gift by Bill and Dina Riviere. The exhibit honors Bill’s father, First Lt. Clarence Riviere, highlighting his bravery as a B-24 bombardier in the South Pacific.

The Norden bombsight could be found in many medium and heavy bomber aircraft in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. It was such a closely guarded piece of technology that bombardiers had to swear an oath to protect the secrets of the device by destroying it before letting it fall into enemy hands, even at the cost of their own lives. The USAAF wartime claims of the Norden being able to place a bomb in a pickle barrel at 20,000 feet were greatly exaggerated. In reality, the Norden bombsight was a complex machine consisting of many gearwheels and ball bearings, prone to produce inaccuracies when not in proper calibration, which was often the result of the aircraft’s turbulent journey to the target.


Donor Spotlight: Bill and Dina Riviere

Bill Riviere in Flight

Bill Riviere in Flight

The Rivieres, who were first introduced by a mutual friend at a holiday party in December of 2000, have been involved with the Museum since its creation. Bill attended the opening ceremony with his father, while Dina was nearby watching the parade of veterans on Poydras Street. She remembers that the parade was “much more emotional than you thought it would be.”

Bill knew that the creation of the Museum would be “special due to the personnel involved,” particularly founders Stephen Ambrose and Nick Mueller, as well as some of the influential trustees they each knew in the business community. The Rivieres became charter members soon after the opening and attended many functions at the Museum. It was at one of these events, the annual Victory Ball, where Bill met Stephen Watson, now the Museum’s Executive Vice President. The two quickly hit it off when they discovered they were both alumni of Nicholls State University.

First Lt. Clarence Riviere

First Lt. Clarence Riviere

Riviere questioned Watson about the fact that there was no Norden bombsight on display in the Museum which, according to Bill’s father, was “the thing that won the war.” Watson explained that there were three in Collections behind the scenes, but that the Museum was interested in displaying a strategic bombing exhibit in the upcoming Boeing Center. This sparked a brainstorming venture. Watson worked with Riviere to gather information on his father’s combat record in the Pacific so that his personal history could be on display with the equipment he was so proud of.

Riviere states that his father rarely discussed the war when he grew up, and only started to open up about his role in the 1990s, when his grandchildren began to ask questions. When Lt. Riviere passed away, Bill and Dina went on a hunt for information, searching through three old suitcases that the Lt. had kept in the attic. They discovered a wealth of information.  Lt. Riviere had kept every document he had received during his time in the Pacific, from his flight log to transfer requests to the arrival of a new pair of socks. Included in the suitcases were many photos of Lt. Riviere in uniform, none of which Bill had seen before, as well as a letter written by his commander recommending Lt. Riviere for the Silver Star.

The B-24 exhibit and Norden bombsight exhibit opened in 2014 with a commemorative ceremony on what would have been Lt. Riviere’s 95th birthday.  Bill notes that his fondest memory of the Museum so far was having his mother present at the dedication of the exhibit. Many family members from Thibodaux and surrounding areas came in for the celebration. Dina said that the most rewarding aspect of their gift, and why they continue to give, is because of the inspiration the Museum gives to veterans. She believes that, because of the institution, there is “much more open dialogue” about the war and that it is “rewarding to see that shared with future generations.”

First Lt. Clarence Riviere with Crew

First Lt. Clarence Riviere with Crew

Bill went on to say that “to donate is one thing, but the sacrifice of those who served is unimaginable.” He states that, even living with someone who participated, it is hard to grasp the sacrifice and the amount of human resources the war effort took. The Rivieres choose to donate so that these stories are never lost. They agree that, “this Museum is a mere tribute to the sacrifices that those in the war effort gave. And we need to do all we can to preserve this for generations to come.”

The Museum is so fortunate to have the encouragement and dedication of Bill and Dina Riviere. We are most grateful for their ongoing support of our programs and capital expansion.

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Tom Brokaw and Tom Hanks Honored by The National WWII Museum

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Tom Brokaw, Tom Hanks, and

Tom Brokaw, Tom Hanks, and Museum President and CEO Gordon “Nick” Mueller, PhD at The American Spirit Awards Gala at Cipriani Wall Street in New York on Tuesday, February 24, 2015.

When The National WWII Museum first opened its doors on June 6, 2000, as The National D-Day Museum, legendary broadcaster Tom Brokaw and award-winning actor Tom Hanks were already among the ranks of its supporters. It was a natural fit for two men who have done so much to honor the personal stories of World War II, and the beginning of an enduring friendship with the Museum. Both Brokaw and Hanks have worked tirelessly throughout their careers to document the World War II story, educating millions of Americans about our shared history and strengthening the legacy of the greatest generation. During a private awards banquet, held at Cipriani Wall Street in New York on Tuesday, February 24, 2015, The National WWII Museum applauded their remarkable careers with the presentation of its American Spirit Award, an honor recognizing individuals who demonstrate extraordinary dedication to the principles that strengthen America’s freedom and democracy.

The American Spirit Award is given to those who make unselfish contributions to their community, state or nation; lead by example; exhibit the highest standards of integrity, discipline and initiative; and exemplify core values that were critical to the Allied war effort – teamwork, optimism, loyalty, courage and sacrifice.

“In addition to being leaders in their fields, Tom Brokaw and Tom Hanks have served as dedicated public historians, using their respective platforms to bring the stories of World War II to new generations,” said Museum President and CEO Gordon “Nick” Mueller, PhD. “They have also been integral to the growth of this Museum and fulfillment of our educational mission.”

7 Brokaw at Road to Berlin opening gala 2014

Brokaw at The National WWII Museum’s Road to Berlin Opening Gala in December 2014.

Well known from his career in broadcast journalism, in 1998 Tom Brokaw became a best-selling author with the publication of “The Greatest Generation.” Inspired by the mountain of mail he received from his first book, Brokaw published “The Greatest Generation Speaks” in 1999. Brokaw was the only network evening news anchor to report from Normandy, France, during the D-Day 60th Anniversary ceremonies in June 2004. He returned to Normandy for the 70th anniversary in June 2014, leading a Museum delegation to the ceremonies and events and reporting on behalf of NBC. Brokaw has been in attendance at nearly every major building opening at The National WWII Museum since 2000 and has been a champion for the Museum in the media and in the fundraising arena.

Tom Hanks has lent his tremendous acting, directing, producing, and voice talents to an array of WWII-focused projects over the last two decades. He earned his fourth Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for “Saving Private Ryan,” garnered praise and awards for the miniseries “Band of Brothers,” helped narrate the Ken Burns documentary “The War,” and reunited with Steven Spielberg for the HBO miniseries “The Pacific.” Hanks also offered an iconic performance in the Home Front-focused “A League of Their Own.” In 2009, The National WWII Museum debuted the exclusive 4D film “Beyond All Boundaries,” with Hanks serving as executive producer and narrator. Offscreen, he played an active role in the creation of The National WWII Memorial and, as a champion for The National WWII Museum, has been instrumental in achieving its goal to become the preeminent museum on World War II.

“Without the efforts of these two men,” said Mueller, “this Museum might not have happened. Their contributions have been that important to our institution.”

Hanks serving food to the troops at The National WWII Museum's Solomon Victory Theater open 2009.

Hanks serving food to the troops at The National WWII Museum’s Solomon Victory Theater opening in 2009.

“From the beginning I was inspired by the determination of the late Stephen Ambrose and Nick Mueller to erect a permanent tribute to honor the men and women I wrote about in “The Greatest Generation,” said Brokaw. “The dreams and determination of these two historians have given that generation and the world an enduring reminder of the military genius, personal sacrifice and political will required to win the greatest war in the history of mankind. It’s an honor to have played a small part in their magnificent effort.”

During the ceremony in New York, NBC’s Lester Holt emceed the event as a taste of New Orleans was brought to the stage with entertainment by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. Throughout the evening, proceeds were raised to benefit the Museum’s Brokaw-Hanks Fund for Digital Access. This fund supports digitization of The National WWII Museum’s vast and growing collection of artifacts, archival materials, images and oral histories – providing invaluable access to these resources for teachers, students and others interested in the study of World War II.

Strengthening online access broadens the Museum’s reach to individuals who may never visit the campus while honoring the distinctive contributions of Tom Brokaw and Tom Hanks to the Museum and to America’s memory of World War II – both in words and film. The Museum’s growing digital archive can be seen at ww2online.org.


Watch Tom Brokaw and Tom Hanks discuss their awards on NBC’s Today Show and MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

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Donor Spotlight: Laborde Services Gallery

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The Laborde Services Gallery, located within the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, has been made possible through gifts in honor of Alden, John, Lucien & C.E. Laborde. The space pays homage to the 16 million men and women who served in the US Armed Forces in World War II. The Services Gallery features three exhibits –Command Central, Voices of Courage, and the Medal of Honor—each highlighting the incredible citizen soldiers of the time.

Command Central is an interactive exhibit that discusses the roles of all branches of the US Armed Forces and how they worked together to secure victory in WWII. Visitors can use touchscreen technology to explore major battles and campaigns, and to view maps, archival images and associated weaponry.

The Voices of Courage exhibit showcases personal accounts of WWII from the Museum’s expansive collection of oral histories.

The Medal of Honor wall displays 464 Medal of Honor recipients, the nation’s highest honor, and gives visitors the opportunity to learn about their actions and search for recipients by state, service branch, or theater of operation.

The Laborde Services Gallery honors the Laborde family and all families whose sacrifices and achievements made this country the richest and freest nation in the world. We are thankful to all who have supported this gallery and for their commitment to the Road to Victory.


The Almar Foundation
Mr. and Mrs. John P. Laborde
Tidewater Inc.
Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc.
Gulf Island Fabrication Inc.
Murphy Oil Corporation
Stone Energy Corporation
V.T. Halter Marine, Inc.

Mr. and Mrs. David A. Condon
Laura and Ruben Dauzat
Mr. and Mrs. John Horigan
Mr. Cliffe F. Laborde
Mr. Cliffe E. Laborde III
Kevin A. Laborde
Mr. Lucien P. Laborde
Mr. Lucien Laborde, Jr.
Mr. Theodore Laborde
Eric and Sarah Laborde Ehrensing
Mr. Kent Liliedahl
Noonie and Clay LeJeune
Pan-American Life
Joan L. Ross
Nancy and Sidney Williams

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Spotlight: “What Would You Do?”

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_MG_9242sMade possible though a generous donation from GE Foundation, the What Would You Do? exhibit within the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center is an interactive experience that challenges viewers with complex moral and ethical choices that men and women were forced to make during the WWII era – tough decisions that still have relevance today.  The exhibit produces ten unique dilemmas that challenge participants to make difficult wartime decisions using historical footage from the Museum’s archives, voiceovers, and key data.  Museum visitors then ‘vote’ on each challenge and learn how their vote compares with what really happened during that time, as well as how other visitors’ decisions compare to their own.

Engaging thousands of participants each year, What Would You Do? is a powerful teaching tool for visitors, teachers and students about the responsibilities and choices citizens must make in a free and democratic society. The National WWII Museum is grateful for GE Foundation’s leadership support of this exhibit and the Road to Victory capital campaign.

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