The Medal of Honor exhibit rests above The Laborde Services Gallery in the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center.
The Medal of Honor exhibit in the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, a key interactive attraction of The National WWII Museum, was made possible through a generous gift from The Goldring Family Foundation and The Woldenberg Foundation. This exhibit features 464 Medal of Honor recipients who hold our nation’s highest honor and esteem. The exhibit gives visitors the opportunity to see the faces of these brave men, read about their actions and conduct a search for recipients by state, service branch or theater of operation.
Donor Spotlight: Goldring Family Foundation and The Woldenberg Foundation
The Goldring Family Foundation and The Woldenberg Foundation have been loyal supporters for many years, contributing to the Museum since its inception. William “Bill” Goldring, an important New Orleans civic figure and longtime Chairman of the two foundations, feels particularly close to this philanthropic effort. He currently serves on the Museum’s Board of Trustees.
Goldring is a New Orleans native who earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Tulane University. In 1972, Goldring became Chief Operating Officer of Magnolia Liquor, founded by his father and Malcolm Woldenberg. After selling what later became the Republic National Distributing Company in 2010, Goldring devoted his attention to the Sazerac and Crescent Crown Companies, as well as his humanitarian ventures.
Goldring strongly believes in strengthening major developments in New Orleans, and was instrumental in the reopening of the Museum after Hurricane Katrina damaged the institution and temporarily paralyzed the local tourism market. Goldring states that his “feelings from the very beginning were that The National WWII Museum would be one of New Orleans’ greatest assets,” and he was reassured after meeting with Founder Stephen Ambrose and Museum President Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller. Goldring fondly recalls having the opportunity to sit with Ambrose and listen to his anecdotes from WWII history, learning more about what made the victorious war effort so important in American culture. “That was more chilling than sitting in a room with anyone (else) I can think of,” he said.
Goldring cites the Museum’s vital role as an economic engine for the city, and feels particularly strong about supporting institutions offering unique educational opportunities. He believes the Museum provides a “phenomenal educational experience” for visitors of all ages.
The Goldring Family Foundation and The Woldenberg Foundation were drawn to naming the Medal of Honor exhibit due to Mr. Goldring’s belief that those who represent our country in a time of war should be celebrated. The exhibit provides search tools that allow visitors to quickly find details on the war service of any WWII recipient of the medal. Individuals who go beyond the call of duty should be “singled out” and the heroes displayed in the Medal of Honor exhibit are “exemplary models for our nation to behold,” Goldring said. He is humbled to be a part of the creation of an exhibit where these armed service members and their sacrifices can be remembered.
We are extremely grateful for the leadership of Bill Goldring and the support of The Goldring Family Foundation and The Woldenberg Foundation for preserving the stories of this extraordinary group of Americans, for the benefit of many generations to come.
The US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center at The National WWII Museum
The soaring, dramatic building that anchors The National WWII Museum campus—The U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center—portrays a nation mobilized for war and pays tribute to those who supported the war effort. The pavilion, which opened to great acclaim in January 2013, is made possible through a generous gift from The Boeing Company and has been a major factor in the museum’s record-setting attendance in 2013 and 2014.
Donor Spotlight: The Boeing Company
There are many reasons why Boeing is proud to support The U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, says Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing’s Vice Chairman, President and Chief Operating Officer.
“We have a sense of gratitude to World War II veterans and the servicemen and servicewomen who sacrificed so much,” Muilenburg said. “It is important for us to recognize that generation’s sacrifice as well as to pay tribute to today’s veterans— including the 22,000 veterans who work at Boeing currently.”
In addition to recognizing those who fought in World War II, the U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center pays tribute to the airplanes, ships, tanks and other machinery that helped propel the U.S. and allied nations to victory. Suspended from the ceiling of the Pavilion’s main hall, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress “My Gal Sal” is one of five World War II-era planes in the museum’s collection.
“Boeing made significant contributions to the war effort,” Muilenburg said. “From our B-17 and B-29 bombers that helped ultimately carry the fight in both the European and Pacific theaters to iconic aircraft like the P-51 Mustang, we are honored to help recognize not only the machines, but even more important, the people who built them.”
Muilenburg, who serves on the Museum’s Board of Trustees, began working at Boeing as a summer intern in 1985 in Seattle, Washington. Throughout his 30-year career with the company, Muilenburg has held a variety of management positions in both the commercial airplanes and defense, space and security businesses. In his current role as Vice Chairman, President and Chief Operating Officer, Muilenburg shares in the day-to-day oversight and support of the world’s largest aerospace company. He focuses on specific growth enablers, including important global relationships, leadership initiatives and development program performance.
A frequent visitor to the museum, Muilenburg hopes the U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center will help preserve the legacy of World War II veterans and the people who supported America’s war effort. “It’s really important that we continue to tell the story in a way that’s meaningful, that inspires future generations and that remembers the sacrifices that were made by the warfighters and those who supported them,” he said.
Muilenburg’s favorite moments at the museum are those he spends with the many volunteer veterans. “It always impresses me how humble they are and how they all have a story to share,” he said. Because the number of World War II veterans decreases with each passing day, Boeing supports the museum’s efforts to preserve World War II veterans’ stories at the highest standard of quality.
The museum is fortunate to have the encouragement of The Boeing Company. We are grateful for their support of our programs and capital expansion at the corporate level and for the participation of many of their outstanding employees.
North American Aviation’s powerful and agile P-51 was the first single-engine aircraft based in England to penetrate Nazi Germany during World War II. With its superior aerodynamics, the Mustang outperformed enemy planes and went on to establish an impressive aerial record. Initially designed for the British Royal Air Force for fighter reconnaissance, it first flew in 1941. By war’s end North American built 15,575 P-51 Mustangs. The P-51D Mustang had a wingspan of 37 feet and was 32 feet long. Powered by one 1,490- horsepower engine, it flew 437 mph with a range of 2,300 miles. Photo courtesy of Boeing. The 5,000th B-17 built after Pearl Harbor carried the signatures of all the people who built her. She rolled out with great ceremony at Boeing Plant 2 in Seattle, Wash., surrounded by her builders. riveters and designers.
The 5,000th B-17 built after Pearl Harbor carried the signatures of all the people who built her. She rolled out with great ceremony at Boeing Plant 2 in Seattle, Wash., surrounded by her builders, riveters and designers. Photo courtesy of Boeing. North American Aviation’s powerful and agile P-51 was the first single-engine aircraft based in England to penetrate Nazi Germany during World War II. With its superior aerodynamics, the Mustang outperformed enemy planes and went on to establish an impressive aerial record. Initially designed for the British Royal Air Force for fighter reconnaissance, it first flew in 1941. By war’s end North American built 15,575 P-51 Mustangs. The P-51D Mustang had a wingspan of 37 feet and was 32 feet long. Powered by one 1,490- horsepower engine, it flew 437 mph with a range of 2,300 miles.
The Allied demand for huge quantities of advanced bombers fueled a rapid increase in production and personnel at Boeing. The large work force of talented engineers and armies of production workers turned out B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-29 Superfortresses in astonishing numbers. Under a unique wartime arrangement, aircraft manufacturers across the country developed techniques for mass production and shared production of the most popular military aircraft, including the B-17s and the B-29s. Thousands of women joined the work force and helped boost production to an astounding 362 airplanes a month by March 1944. Photo courtesy of Boeing. The Allied demand for huge quantities of advanced bombers fueled a rapid increase in production and personnel at Boeing. The large work force of talented engineers and armies of production workers turned out B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-29 Superfortresses in astonishing numbers. Under a unique wartime arrangement, aircraft manufacturers across the country developed techniques for mass production and shared production of the most popular military aircraft, including the B-17s and the B-29s. Thousands of women took up the slack in the work force and helped boost production to an astounding 362 airplanes a month by March 1944.
Last week, The National WWII Museum held a multi-day celebration, honoring the completion of the Road to Berlin: European TheaterGalleries, the first floor of our newest pavilion, Campaigns of Courage: European and Pacific Theaters. The events were attended by WWII veterans and active duty military from all services branches, donors to the Museum’s Road to Victory capital campaign, Road to Berlin artifact donors, and student winners from National History Day, among others. The Grand Opening of this important milestone in the Museum’s capital expansion was generously sponsored by TheStarr Foundation, CenturyLink, JetBlue, and Whitney Bank.
On Thursday evening, December 11, the Museum held a gala in the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, where Tom Brokaw, broadcaster and Museum supporter, served as Master of Ceremonies for the event. Calling to the stage WWII veterans, Road to Berlin donors, and Museum board members, many spoke of the importance of the institution, their connection to WWII, and why they choose to support the expansion of the Museum campus.
Friday morning, December 12, served as the official Dedication and Ribbon Cutting ceremony, led by WDSU anchor Norman Robinson. We were fortunate to have Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu, and Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne speak at the ceremony, as well as other special guests from around the world. The ceremony concluded with a heartfelt speech by the daughter of the late WWII veteran Walt Ehlers, Cathy Ehlers-Metcalf, who generously bestowed upon the Museum Ehler’s Medal of Honor. We are honored to be able to display this important piece in the Museum and pay tribute to Ehler’s true courage and sacrifice.
Tom Brokaw as Master of Ceremonies during the Museum's gala.
View of attendees in the Museum's US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center during the gala.
World War II veterans in attendance of the Road to Berlin opening ceremony on December 12, 2014.
The Museum is grateful for the commitment and generosity of The Starr Foundation, CenturyLink, JetBlue, and Whitney Bank, all of which made these events possible. The Museum would also like to thank again our Road to Berlin donors for their dedication to the Museum’s important mission:
During World War II, a sense of civic duty and responsibility united the nation and fueled America’s war effort like nothing before or since. People stepped forward to fulfill the jobs demanded of them, and they excelled beyond all expectations. Civilians on the Home Front who worked to assemble America’s “Arsenal of Democracy” were essential to securing an Allied victory, and their stories serve as a reminder of what patriotism truly means.
The Museum’s current special exhibit, Manufacturing Victory: The Arsenal of Democracy, now showing in the Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation Special Exhibit Gallery, tells this lesser-known story of American unity on the Home Front and how it culminated in the creation of America’s mighty industrial war engine. The exhibit examines several key industries whose operations and facilities completely rearranged to make way for wartime production. We are proud to have two of the key industrial leaders featured in the exhibit as supporters of the Museum as well.
Boeing’s B-29 Super Fortress Bomber. Courtesy of Boeing.
During World War II, The Boeing Company manufactured two of the most iconic bomber aircraft. Over 12,000 B-17 Flying Fortress bombers were produced, becoming instrumental in the bombing of German-controlled Europe. Boeing’s second contribution to the war, the B-29 Super Fortress bomber, was used to lay waste to Japan’s urban centers, aiding the Allied victory in the Pacific. Now 70 years later, Boeing shows its support of the Museum’s mission of preserving the story of the war the naming sponsor of our US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, which paints the picture of a nation mobilized for war .
Workers install cylinders on a new Pratt & Whitney radial aircraft engine in 1942. Courtesy of National Archives.
During the war, the need for aircraft production was at an all-time high, though incredibly complicated due to the large number of parts and pieces involved. Pratt & Whitney built engines for aircraft that could be shipped for assembly in other plants. Their R-1830 Twin Wasp engine powered a variety of American planes, and over 170,000 of the engines were produced during the war. Without the increase in engine production, the Allies would not have been able to take control of the skies. Pratt & Whitney has helped the Museum immortalize the war’s airpower through the generous sponsorship of the Vought F4U Corsair warbird that hangs in The Boeing Center.
The National WWII Museum is very thankful for the support of Pratt & Whitney and The Boeing Company for their generous contributions to the expansion of the Museum’s campus and their strong efforts on the home front during a time of necessary American production. It is with their efforts that helped our nation at war and that the story of the war is preserved for future generations.
As the Museum is just weeks away from the opening of our newest exhibition pavilion, Campaigns of Courage: European and Pacific Theaters, we turn our donor spotlight on the generous supporters who contributed to our Road to Victory Capital Campaign over the years, pushing us closer to our $325 million goal!
Jamey and Judy Clement of Dallas, TX have been proud supporters of the National WWII Museum since 2012. Their first experience with the Museum was through their friend Walter Negley who became part of the Museum family after Hurricane Katrina. Walter invited Jamey to the grand opening ceremonies of the Solomon Victory Theater complex and the premiere of the Museum’s signature attraction Beyond all Boundaries, the award-winning 4-D film featuring Tom Hanks. It was then that the Clements got their first taste of the very special nature of this Museum, and they have since been back to New Orleans many times to visit.
Judy’s father, George Beggs III, in Benghazi
Both Jamey and Judy come from very patriotic families. Each of their fathers served in WWII, as did Jamey’s uncle. Jamey’s father, Jim Clement, was a member of the 107th Artillery of the 28th Division of Pennsylvania National Guard. He and his unit followed the D-Day invasion landing eight weeks later moving through the French countryside until he was injured and returned home. Judy’s father, George Beggs III, was in the air corps in Benghazi, servicing airplanes for the Italian Campaign. Jamey’s uncle, John Larkin, was a forward observer in Germany, and was unfortunately killed in Dortmund, Germany scarcely a month before the end of the war.
Jamey’s two sons are also in the military. One is a 2nd Lt in the USMC Reserves after completing a tour in Afghanistan with the 2/7 Marines and the other is an aviator and a Captain in the Marines. Jamey states that “any interest I have in WWII and the military history was heightened by their enlisting and willingness to serve.”
Jamey’s grandfather, Martin W. Clement, was the 11th President of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and was responsible for improving troop movements in the US. By the end of WWII, the Pennsylvania Railroad controlled more than 20 percent of American passenger traffic and 11 percent of freight traffic, making it a significant hub for the transportation of American troops and production.
Jamey notes that his father did not discuss the war very much when he was growing up. Before his death in 1994, Jamey asked his father to write down his experience in the war so that there would be some documentation of his time spent in France. It was the content of Jim Clement’s three-page letter describing his experiences after D-Day that sparked the Clements to name the “From Normandy to Berlin” exhibit in the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion.
Jamey’s Father, Jim Clement in France
Jamey’s son re-enacting his Grandfather’s photo
Jamey’s fondest memory of his time with the Museum was the recent 70th anniversary D-Day cruise. He said that not only was the trip professionally organized but, on the last day, a Museum guide used the letter from his father to take the Clement family on a journey following his father’s footprints. The Clements blazed a trail through Normandy, retracing the steps of Jim’s unit from the Beaches to Gathemo, the hill on which the guide believed Jim was injured. Jamey states that it was an incredibly special experience to share with his family.
Jamey and Judy cite the reason that they give to the Museum is the superior quality and professionalism of the staff and campus. In addition to the many conversations with Hugh Ambrose concerning the mission of the Museum, Jamey stated that “all [his] encounters have been first rate, not to mention the people…the list is really too long. It goes from [President] Nick to Stephen Watson to the entire staff (e.g Mike Carroll, Peter Boese, Karen Wibrew, Molly Bergeron, Carrie Corbet, et. Al) , the speakers on the [Normandy] trip, to the few Board members I’ve met…they are all generally good people and a pleasure to be around.”
The Museum is exceptionally grateful for the commitment and generosity of Judy and Jamey Clement in helping the Museum complete our Road to Victory.
On our journey through the Road to Berlin, we highlighted the German Messerschmitt Bf-109, the most produced fighter aircraft in history. In celebration of Veterans Day this week, the Museum is proud to announce that the Messerschmitt has now been generously sponsored by WWII Veteran Paul Hilliard and his wife, Madlyn. Their name will be proudly displayed by the warbird in honor of their continual generosity. The Museum would not be where we are today without the Hilliard’s dedication.
Madlyn and Paul Hilliard
The National WWII Museum is fortunate that Madlyn and Paul Hilliard have shared their intense interest and love of what the Museum is doing through their generous commitment to The Road to Victory Capital Campaign. Paul is a World War II veteran who flew his missions overseas in a SBD Dauntless aircraft, and he has made it his mission that “as part of the Museum’s evolution we would acquire all of the weapons of war.” He believes that the ME-109 is a vital part of the air war story in the European Theater.
Paul and Madlyn have played a large role in assisting the Museum acquire and restore several of our iconic warbirds and macro artifacts. They both feel passionately that seeing these artifacts up close is “different than seeing them on TV or in simulation.” Madlyn is always impressed by the faces of the children “so focused and interested in what they are seeing. They do not get this in a classroom, and it is so meaningful for all visitors to learn the price of freedom for our country.”
Paul believes that the acquisition of enemy weapons and artifacts, like the Messerschmitt, is important in explaining the various sides of war. By exhibiting weapons used by the Axis enemies, it better clarifies the weaponry the Allied forces built and employed in response, in order to defeat the enemy.
They Hilliards have felt encouraged to see how we have grown to where we are now in 2014. We feel privileged that they have played a major role in telling the story of “what this country can do when you threaten the liberty of Americans.” They feel that being part of the Museum family has been a wonderful experience that they “wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
PT-305’s original flags. In the frame, the battle flag is pictured above while the commissioning flag lies below it.
The Museum’s PT-305 restoration project recently received a valuable piece of the boat’s history this past September when the boat’s original flags were returned to the vessel. The flags were donated by Mitch Cirlot, the son of one of the original crew members on PT-305, Joseph Cirlot.
Mitch’s dad, Joseph, was the longest serving sailor on PT-305. According to Mitch, how his father ended up with the flags is because he was the last one to rotate off the boat. Joseph’s skipper asked him to take the battle flag and the commissioning flag home with him. He was also given the captured Nazi flag containing the signatures of the PT boat squadron sailors.
With the donation of these flags, Mitch also gave a photograph of his father’s wife Marion Cirlot that was affixed to Joseph’s bunk within PT-305 during the war. Our restoration crew will be placing this photograph back in Joseph’s bunk just as it was nearly 70 years ago during World War II.
We would like to reach out to the families of PT-305 and obtain photos of the crew’s sweethearts, wives, and family that would have likely attached to the bunk. If you have anything to share with our restoration crew about PT-305, please contact us here.
Into The German Homeland – Final Assault Rendering
As we continue our adventure through theRoad to Berlin, we stop next at the riveting Breaking the Siegfried Line exhibit, which tells the gripping history of the offensive strategy conducted by the Allies in February 1945 and the counteroffensive at Alsace in attempts to break through Germany’s line of defense.
The Siegfried Line fortified Germany’s western border with France. It consisted of interlocking bunkers systems and hedge-hog teeth tank defenses that stretched for over 300 miles. In August of 1944 Hitler reinforced the Siegfried Line to halt the American forces advancing upon Germany from the Normandy landings. The defensive line proved to be a formidable obstacle, but the Allied forces attacking along the line in the Hurtgen Forest campaign and Battle of the Bulge ultimately broke through Siegfried defenses at great cost in lives. Breaching the line left the Allies positioned for the final drive deep into the German homeland.
Donor Spotlight: Lt. Col. Robert Kelso and Mrs. Betty Kelso
The Breaking the Siegfried Line exhibit inside the Into the German Homeland gallery has been made possible through a generous gift from Lt. Col. Robert Kelso and his wife, Betty. Lieutenant Colonel Kelso is a veteran of two wars and currently lives in San Antonio.
Infantrymen of the 255th Infantry Regiment move down a street in Waldenburg to hunt out the Hun after a recent raid by 63rd Division. Image courtesy of National Archives.
Kelso served in the Army during World War II and is believed to be the youngest known soldier injured during the conflict. With his recruiter unaware of his real age, Kelso entered service at age 13 and was wounded by a German bayonet at 14. He received the Purple Heart as a result of the war injury.
During World War II, Kelso was assigned to the 342nd Armored Field Artillery Battalion and fought throughout Europe as a private. After World War II, Kelso served in the US Army Reserve, but in 1963, after the onset of the Vietnam War, he returned to active duty at the rank of captain. He completed two tours in Vietnam, first as an advisor with the 22nd ARVN Division, then with the famed 25th Infantry Division “Tropic Lightning.” His awards include the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with two oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Joint Service Commendation Medal, and French Legion of Honor.
Robert and Betty Kelso first became involved with the Museum when a civic leader of San Antonio sponsored a traveling event to San Antonio for veterans and supporters. After his initial visit to the Museum, Kelso felt compelled to make a gift. He felt that naming the Breaking the Siegfried Line was the most appropriate fit. Kelso states that he vividly remembers “crossing the line in Germany” and it is something he will never forget.
The Kelsos are proud supporters of other institutions that serve the military community. They have supported the National Army Museum since 2008, and graciously offered their home and ranch to 21 service members recuperating at Brooke Army Medical Center, so that they could take a day trip and escape the rigors of hospital rehabilitation life.
The Museum is grateful for the generosity of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Kelso and his wife, Betty, as they help to advance the capital expansion.
As we continue our journey through The Road to Berlin, we stop next at what will be an extraordinary immersive gallery space, the month-long Battle of the Bulge – the US Army’s largest battle of World War II. Grappling with bitterly cold weather, more than 30 divisions and 600,000 men fought desperately to halt the Germans after the surprise assault in December 1944. Walking through the gallery, you will be surrounded by the dense, snow-covered Ardennes forest, with projections of soldiers and battle scenes partially visible through the trees, allowing you to sense the extreme environmental conditions that made this battle one of the most difficult of the war. Oral history stations, artifacts, and content panels will guide you from the surprise German attack to the Siege, to the ultimate hard-won Allied victory. Finally, you will join the Allies as they push through the German border and write the final chapter in the war in Europe – the fall of the Third Reich.
Donor Spotlight- The Starr Foundation
The Battle of the Bulge gallery has been made possible through a generous gift from The Starr Foundation. The Foundation was established in 1955 by Cornelius Vander Starr, who served in the US Army during WWI. He died in 1968 at the age of 76, leaving his estate to the Foundation, and he named his business partners – Ernest E. Stempel, John J. Roberts, Houghton Freeman, and Maurice R. “Hank” Greenberg – to run the foundation under Greenberg’s leadership. The partners were all WWII veterans: Stempel, Roberts, and Freeman all served in the Navy in the Pacific and Greenberg served in the Army in Europe.
Chairman Maurice R. Greenberg
Greenberg served throughout the European Theater – from landing on the beaches of Normandy to fighting in the Battle of the Bulge to the liberating concentration camps in Germany. In recognition of his service and contributions to the Allied victory, Greenberg received the Legion of Honor from the French government on the 70th Anniversary of D-Day earlier this year. When being praised for his brave military service, Greenberg responds that he was “only one of millions of WWII veterans who fought for our country.”
Florence A. Davis, President of The Starr Foundation, remembers when Museum founder Stephen Ambrose first met Greenberg in 2001. Tom Brokaw arranged the meeting and shortly thereafter The Starr Foundation awarded the Museum a $1 million grant in support of the institution then known as The National D-Day Museum.
During this time the Museum was also building out its D-Days of the Pacific galleries within the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion. The Foundation chose to name the Introduction Gallery to honor the service of The Starr Foundation directors, particularly the three that served in the Pacific. Eager to dedicate a space that would preserve the story of the European Theater in Greenberg’s honor, The Starr Foundation generously provided an additional gift in 2010 in support of the Museum’s Road to Victory Capital Campaign to name the Battle of the Bulge gallery.
Davis first visited the Museum in late 2001, soon after the attacks on 9/11, and she recalled the Museum was “a good reminder of the ideals that Americans fought for in the past and what we continue to fight for today.” Her late father also served in the Navy from 1944 to 1946. He passed away when she was young and, as it has for so many others, the Museum provided her an indirect way to learn about his experiences and life during the war.
One of The Starr Foundation’s focuses is to “invest in education and international affairs,” Davis explained. “The Museum is place for families to learn about American and world history. Visitors gain a sense of how the American system of government worked under circumstances of global combat. The Museum educates visitors about the positive lessons of how the country pulled together on rationing, war bonds, and enlistment in huge numbers, as well as the negative lessons of the (racial) segregation of troops and internment of Japanese Americans. Understanding the entire history of WWII, warts and all, is very important.”
The Museum’s growth and impact can be attributed in part to The Starr Foundation’s tremendous support of the Museum’s capital expansion. We feel privileged to honor the service of The Starr Foundation’s directors, a group of heroes whose service and sacrifice preserved the freedoms we have today. The Museum is grateful for the Foundation’s support and for the leadership of Greenberg and Davis, who have played key roles in developing the Museum into a world-class institution.
Post by Katie DeBruhl, Donor Relations Coordinator at The National WWII Museum.
Rendering of what the Breaching the German Frontier gallery will look like within the Road to Berlin.
The next stop within the Road to Berlin will bring to life another vital aspect of the WWII story – the German Siegfried Line, a network of bunkers, minefields, and barbed wire built into hilly terrain. After the failure of Market Garden, the Allied advance ground to a halt as it encountered the Siegfried Line. This gallery mimics the interior of a blown-out German bunker, allowing you to see the infrastructure employed by the Germans in defense of their homeland. The gallery’s content focuses on the stories of the Allied advance into Germany, including the capture of Aachen, the first German city to surrender, while also foreshadowing the many battles that still lay ahead for the American forces. Once the Allies managed to penetrate sections of the Siegfried Line, their spirits were high and many hoped to be home by Christmas. These hopes were shattered by Hitler’s final counter-offensive in the West, which became the Battle of the Bulge, the costliest land battle of the war for the Americans.
Susan and Michael Ashner
DONOR SPOTLIGHT- THE ASHNER FAMILY EVERGREEN FOUNDATION
The Breaching the German Frontier Bunker gallery has been made possible through a generous gift from The Ashner Family Evergreen Foundation. The Foundation was started 12 years ago by Museum Trustee Michael Ashner and his wife Susan to better coordinate their philanthropic efforts. Michael and Susan are both from South New Jersey. Michael grew up in Margate and Susan in Pleasantville.
The Ashners have been involved with the Museum since 2011, when Ginny and former board member David Knott mentioned to them that there was The National WWII Museum in New Orleans. David shared stories of his involvement, and asked Michael if he too wanted to become involved with the Museum. Shortly after their discussion Michael took on a leadership role, joining David on the Board of Trustees.
Michael and Susan’s decision to demonstrate personal support for the Museum was also influenced by their family connections to the war effort. Michael’s two uncles, Morton Hassman and Jules Rainess, both served during WWII. Morton was a glider pilot and was killed in Operation Varsity, a massive airborne assault near the end of the war that landed Allied forces across the Rhine. Jules was in the US Army and served in the difficult New Guinea campaigns. Fortunately, he survived his combat tour.
Jules was reserved in discussing his wartime experiences. “He was a big man at six feet two inches tall,” Michael said. “When he enlisted he weighed 180 pounds. When he came back from New Guinea, he was down to 120 pounds.” Michael and Susan have named the Breaching the German Frontier Bunker gallery within the Road to Berlin in honor of the service and sacrifices of Michael’s uncles.
Michael said he and Susan support the Museum because they “believe the cost and sacrifice of protecting our freedom and liberties needs to be shared with both current and future generations. We also believe the world should understand how strong a free citizen military can respond when provoked.” They feel that all who visit the Museum “cannot help but come away with some level of appreciation for the contributions that American soldiers and civilians made during WWII. I encourage everyone to visit the Museum and bring their friends and family. Each time I go there I enjoy it more and the people I bring enjoy it also.”
Museum President Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller said the institution “has always turned to its national board for leadership and support, and we are inspired by the generosity of Susan and Michael Ashner. The Breaching the German Frontier gallery that they are sponsoring in our new pavilion will bring to life the story of the daunting challenges faced by our citizen soldiers even during the final phases of the war in Europe.”
Michael also recently began his second three-year term on the Museum’s Board of Trustees. The National WWII Museum is extremely grateful for Michael’s leadership on the board and for Michael and Susan’s strong show of support for the Road to Victory capital campaign.
Post by Lauren Bevis, Donor Relations Coordinator, and Ashley Nash, Prospect Coordinator.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world - why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today - so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.