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In our last blog post of the Road to Tokyo countdown, we covered the Submarine, Doolittle Raid, and Battle of Coral Sea exhibits within the New Naval Warfare gallery. Let us now examine the remaining two exhibits detailing naval warfare in the Pacific that will be unfolded in this immersive space.

Sinking of Japanese Cruiser Mikuma, June 6, 1942,  Battle of Midway.

Sinking of Japanese Cruiser Mikuma, June 6, 1942,
Battle of Midway.


Victory at the Battle of Midway was a decisive turning point for the United States. It was this battle that changed the balance of power in the Pacific. The exhibit will explain how the US gained an advantage by breaking Japanese diplomatic and naval codes, but sustained heavy casualties at the beginning of the battle. Victory seemed improbable. Then, within a four-minute period, the US turned the tide of the battle by destroying three Japanese aircraft carriers. With Midway secured, the US was positioned to project power throughout the Pacific. This exhibit will share the thrilling tale of the US military’s comeback at the Battle of Midway, which set the stage to push back across the vast Pacific.

The Battle of Midway Theater within the New Naval Warfare Gallery has been made possible through a generous gift by Tom & Gayle Benson.


Grumman Avengers aboard an aircraft carrier during heavy seas

Grumman Avengers aboard an aircraft carrier during heavy seas


The use of aircraft and aircraft carriers transformed naval warfare. With the transition from battleship to carrier-dominated warfare, opposing fleets launched aircraft from hundreds of miles away and delivered deadly blows without the ships ever coming within sight of one another. Naval aviators became decisive players in key battles. Carriers will detail carrier-based warfare and compare the strengths and weaknesses of the Japanese Navy and the American Navy. It will also examine the particular hazards and perils of naval aviation, which included antiaircraft fire, crashes, getting lost at sea, and the difficulties of operating from aircraft carriers.

Join us next week as we take our first steps into the Guadalcanal.

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In Memoriam: Historian, Author, and Museum Friend Hugh Ambrose

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“A people who honor their heroes and who appreciate the great civilization they have inherited must also volunteer to do their share. When we all do our part, we create a healthy, happy, and powerful nation.”

– Hugh Ambrose

This week the Museum lost an important member of our family. Hugh Ambrose was the son of Museum founder Stephen E. Ambrose, but he was also someone who has advised and supported the Museum from its earliest days. Whether contributing his historical expertise, leading or accompanying Museum travel programs, securing invaluable donations to support the Museum’s educational mission, or coordinating public programs here at the Museum that brought us veterans, historians, and storytellers, Hugh Ambrose quietly made his mark on this institution. He will be greatly missed.

Here are just a few of the fitting remembrances of Hugh that have been published as well as images from his time at the Museum:

Hugh Ambrose, the son of a great historian who succeeded on his own, dies at 48

Hugh Ambrose, historian who helped develop New Orleans’ National World War II Museum, dead at 48


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In our last blog post of the Road to Tokyo countdown, we covered the Life Aboard Ship exhibit within the New Naval Warfare gallery. Let us now examine a few more WWII stories of naval warfare in the Pacific that will be unfolded in this immersive space.


Immediately following the brutal Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, American Admiral Thomas Hart declared unrestricted submarine warfare against Japan. Submarines were lethal weapons for both sides and played a crucial role in the fighting. This exhibit will explore the changes in submarine boats and the technologies they used as the war progressed. The US submarine force comprised just 1.6% of naval personnel, but accounted for the highest fatality rate of any US service branch at 22%. Sinking tremendous amounts of Japanese tonnage, the submarine force was the key to drawing the noose around Japan. Through oral histories and computer interactives, the exhibit will explain the dangers of submarine life and combat, while also conveying the pride and honor of belonging to these highly-skilled crews.

B-25 Mitchell bomber in flight

B-25 Mitchell bomber in flight

The Doolittle Raid

The Doolittle Raid was America’s first offensive attack on Japan, and one of the most famous American missions in the Pacific. It was also the first time the US launched bombers from an aircraft carrier into combat. Sixteen planes bombed military and industrial targets in Japan. Though the mission inflicted minimal damage, the raid served to bolster American morale and shake the confidence of the Japanese. The Japanese called units back to their home islands for defense, weakening their presence elsewhere in the Pacific. Using personal stories and artifacts, this exhibit will tell the story of the Doolittle Raid from its planning stages, to the fates of the aircrews, to the aftermath of the raid which spurred a devastating retaliation in China.


 Battle of Coral Sea, May 8, 1942. Japanese plane burning in sky

Battle of Coral Sea, May 8, 1942. Japanese plane burning in sky

Battle of Coral Sea

As the first naval battle fought entirely by aircraft, the Battle of the Coral Sea is a key example of the new naval warfare of World War II. For the first time in history, two fleets engaged in combat while never being within eyesight of one another and never having fired directly at each other – all strikes were delivered by aircraft launched from aircraft carriers. Both sides suffered costly losses. This exhibit will provide detailed information about the locations of the fleets, aircraft routes, and the ship and aircraft losses on both sides. The battle ended in a draw, but the Americans achieved strategic victories. By preventing the invasion of Port Moresby, it was the first battle that contained the Japanese expansion. The battle also reduced Japan’s carrier power, which would prove to be significant in the Battle of Midway.

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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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The National WWII Museum Partners with NOLA.com for Local WWII Photo Search

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As the anniversaries of the end of World War II hostilities and V-J Day approach, The National WWII Museum’s plans are underway for events honoring the men and women who fought for America’s freedom. On the 70th Anniversary of V-E Day, the Museum launched a community initiative regarding the local celebration pictured below. Originally appearing in The Times-Picayune, the iconic photograph was taken by Oscar J. Valeton Sr. and depicts the overwhelming exuberance felt throughout New Orleans neighborhoods when victory over Japan was declared.

“New Orleanians celebrate V-J Day and the end of World War II” Photo by Oscar J. Valeton Courtesy of the Times-Picayune

“New Orleanians celebrate V-J Day and the end of World War II”
Photo by Oscar J. Valeton Sr.
Courtesy of the Times-Picayune

With the support of NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, the Museum is asking the public for help indentifying all of the individuals in the photograph in order to connect with them and gather surviving members for a special reunion. The reunion will feature a private reception for these individuals and their families, along with a special ceremony commemorating the end of the war.

If you are in the photo, know the identity of someone who is, or simply have stories to share about V-J Day in New Orleans, NOLA.com wants to hear from you. Learn more about how to join the conversation here.


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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: Pacific Briefing Room

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2-2_Briefing_RoomAs we continue down the Road to Tokyo, we  stop next at the Pacific Briefing Room, which will fully immerse visitors in the Pacific War.

In the Briefing Room, visitors will learn about the massive gains of the Japanese in the first half of 1942 and the clobbering of the Allied forces, including the British surrender in Singapore and the American surrender in the Philippines. Dire losses had a galvanizing impact on the American people as they embraced values of courage, teamwork, and sacrifice to defend the nation and its democratic values.

Meanwhile, leaders in Washington devised a military strategy that divided the Pacific Theater and charted two paths to Japan – one that approached from the southwest, including the retaking of the Philippines and other islands before attacking Japan, and a second that reached directly across the central Pacific. In both cases, it was crucial that the US Navy secure sea lanes to halt the Japanese advance – requiring a new kind of naval warfare to succeed. Maps and newsreels will lead you through these challenges and strategies, and introduce you to the military leaders responsible for the Allied forces in the Pacific.

The Pacific Briefing Room has been made possible through a generous gift by Madlyn and Paul Hilliard. 

Madlyn and Paul Hilliard at Road to Berlin Grand Opening

Donor Spotlight: Madlyn and Paul Hilliard

For more than a decade, Museum trustee and WWII veteran Paul Hilliard and his wife, Madlyn, have been two of the Museum’s most active advocates and supporters.  They have provided transformative support for several Museum initiatives, including the capital expansion, acquisition and restoration of artifacts, collection of oral histories, and education programs.

Paul is a Marine Corps veteran who served as a radioman/gunner in SBD “Dauntless” dive bombers in the Pacific. He turned 17 in June of 1942 and pleaded with his mother to authorize his enlistment in the Marines, finally, in February of 1943, she relented and Paul was shipped to boot camp in San Diego.  After more than a year of training in aviation radio, radar and gunnery, he was sent to the Solomons for assignment to an SBD dive bomber squadron.

One of his most memorable experiences came when his unit was put aboard a retrofitted Australian cattle ship for transport from the Solomons to the Philippines—with brief stops at New Guinea and Ulithi.  After joining the convoy at Ulithi carrying the support forces for the assault on Luzon, he says “we were given a very special ride on that old cattle scow when we encountered the tail end of a typhoon and the rough seas gave us a view of the bow of other ships in the convoy disappearing into the troughs while the screws came well out of the water. Most of the transports were towing barges loaded with bombs and munitions and when the typhoon abated in Philippine waters, very few of the barges could be seen.”

In the Philippines the SBDs served as “airborne artillery” for General Krueger’s Sixth Army, assigned to dive bomb and strafe targets assigned by the army units attacking the Japanese on the ground. He flew many “Columbus missions,” named this because “we were unaware where we were going when we took off, we didn’t where we were when arrived at the target and when we returned to base we didn’t know where we had been. We did it all at the government’s expense.”

The Hilliards have played a large role in assisting the Museum acquire and restore several of the Museum’s iconic warbirds and macroartifacts. 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.”

The two have sponsored a variety of artifacts within The National WWII Museum for this reason. The Hilliards have chosen to sponsor the SBD Dauntless in the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, since this was the aircraft Paul frequently flew during his time in the war. The aircraft also has an added connection to the pair—the number 41 on the side of SBD Dauntless matches their street address in North Carolina.

Paul believes that the acquisition of enemy weapons and artifacts, like the Messerchmitt, 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. The Messerschmitt currently hangs in the Campaigns of Courage Pavilion.

In addition to the macroartifacts that the Hilliards have generously supported, they have also named two exhibits in the upcoming Road to Tokyo in the new Campaigns of Courage: European and Pacific Theaters—the Pacific Briefing Room and the Battle of Manila. Since Paul fought in the Pacific, particularly in the Battle of Manila, the two exhibits were an obvious choice for the pair. Paul, reflecting on his time in Manila, states that this mission consisted of a different type of bombing than the missions before. He did not know what kind of targets they were hitting and there was radio silence throughout the mission. He stated that the bombing of Manila felt more like a delivery for a very specific target. Since Paul was seated in the rear of the airplane, he witnessed the devastation that trailed behind the plane after the bombs were dropped. The battle was a disturbing one for the enemy, and something that has fascinated Paul ever since his role in it.

Paul states “to those of us who wore a uniform between1940 and 1946, it seemed as if nearly every man in America had served and so it was so normal, so commonplace, that the subject seldom surfaced. I credit Stephen Ambrose with reviving the discussion and the interest as his books shed light on specific anecdotes, on small-unit-actions, and on the long-lasting impact the War had and was going to have on world history.  Once I began to realize that I had been privileged to play a minor role in an enormous event, I became and still am, an assiduous student of WWII.  The National WWII Museum has been and is an incredible opportunity to further my interest and to help tell the story of “the war that changed the world.”

The continuous support of Paul and Madlyn attests to their interest in and commitment to telling the story.  Madlyn says, “what is so rewarding about [the Museum], is its growth and the enthusiasm of the young visitors, their amazing knowledge of events in the War and their enjoyment of their visit.  It’s contagious!!”

Paul says the Museum “tells the story of American at its best and of not only what Americans did during that War to ensure the freedom of millions around the world but to assure later generations that when fascism tackles freedom, freedom is going to come out on top. And whatever we have done or are doing to assist in spreading and trumpeting that message, is done from a sense of gratitude rather than from generosity.”

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SciTech Tuesday-The Los Alamos Primer

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In 1934 a young man just finished with his PhD in physics at the University of Wisconsin made a spontaneous decision. He turned down a postdoctoral appointment with Eugene Wigner at Columbia University, and decided instead to head to UC Berkeley and pursue work with a scientist he had just heard give a talk in Madison.

The dynamic Berkeley professor was Robert Oppenheimer, and the young protege was Robert Serber. Serber, like Oppenheimer, was a theoretician. Unlike most of his kind, he admired gadgetry and was fascinated with the methods of empiricists. After a few years of work with Oppenheimer, Serber took a position of the University of Illinois in 1938, where he and his wife Charlotte nee Loef settled until 1941. At that time Oppenheimer recruited them to move to Los Alamos to join the Manhattan Project. Robert would become Oppenheimer’s shadow, and Charlotte the head of the technical library (this made her the only female section leader during the war).

Serber had a great ability to explain things, and to link the general and theoretical with the specific and empirical. Los Alamos operated effectively by not limiting communication across departments. This also proved a challenge to introducing new team members to the mission of the group and the combined knowledge of the project. After a conference sponsored by Oppenheimer at Berkeley in 1942, summary lectures on the principles of fission and potential bomb triggering mechanisms were delivered by Serber at Los Alamos in April of 1943. Notes of these lectures, taken by Edward Condon, were collected for internal use, and named ‘The Los Alamos Primer.” Summarizing all the relevant knowledge held by those who created the first atomic weapons, the Primer was classified until 1965. By then the field had developed enough to make its contents not very useful for engineers. However, it is priceless to historians studying the development of the project.

Serber was quick-minded and practical enough that he was the man sent to Tinian advise the military as they loaded and activated the bombs. He also was the one who gave them the names “Little Boy,” and “Fat Man.” Serber was on the first team of Americans who entered Hiroshima and Nagasaki to evaluate the results of the bombings.

The post-war years were a little rough for Serber, as an attempt was made on his life in 1947 by an anti-communist activist, and then he was swept up in some of the McCarthy era mess, mostly because of his family’s Jewish and Socialist leanings, and his close association with Oppenheimer. Angered by the government’s failure to give him a security clearance to go to a meeting in Japan in 1952, he refused to stay at Berkeley because California professors were required to swear an oath of loyalty to the US Government. He moved to Columbia where he stayed through his wife’s death in 1968, until his retirement in 1978. He died in 1997 from complications of surgery to treat brain cancer.

All images from Wikimedia, except those from The Los Alamos Primer, which can be accessed here.

Posted by Rob Wallace, STEM Education Coordinator at The National WWII Museum

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Road to Tokyo Countdown: Introduction and Orientation Area

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Opening this December, the Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries will tell the story of the brave men and women fighting within the Asia-Pacific side of World War II and the logistical challenges, environmental difficulties, crude facilities, and tropical diseases they faced to secure victory.

As we begin our countdown through Road to Tokyo, we come first to the Introduction and Orientation Area. This gallery space will set the scene of how America first became involved with fighting in the Pacific.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. Four days after the gruesome attack on US soil, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. Americans ­– determined to avenge the attack on their territory ­­– were ready to launch a war with Japan.

The Road to Tokyo Introduction and Orientation Area will guide visitors through the precarious situation facing America, and the logistical challenges of fighting a two-front war, particularly across the vast Pacific Ocean and Asian territories now dominated by the Japanese. Finally, visitors will meet the Allied and Axis key leaders in the Pacific: Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Emperor Hirohito.

Road to Tokyo Introduction and Orientation Area

Road to Tokyo Introduction and Orientation Area


Donor Spotlight: The Starr Foundation

The Road to Tokyo Briefing Room: Japanese Onslaught has been made possible through a generous donation by The Starr Foundation.

C.V. Starr

Cornelius Vander Starr, Founder of The Starr Foundation

The Starr 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

Maurice R. Greenberg  is the current Chairman of The Starr Foundation

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. Greenberg received the Legion of Honor from the French government on the 70th Anniversary of D-Day in 2014. 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.”

The Starr Foundation awarded the Museum a $1 million grant, after Museum founder Stephen Ambrose met with Greenberg in 2001. 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 2006 in support of the Museum’s Road to Victory Capital Campaign to name the Road to Tokyo Introduction Area gallery.

Florence Davis

Florence Davis, President of The Starr Foundation

President of the Starr Foundation, Florence Davis believes the Museum is “a good reminder of the ideals that Americans fought for in the past and what we continue to fight for today.”

One of The Starr Foundation’s focuses is to “invest in education and international affairs,” Davis states that “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 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.


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Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of V-E Day at The National WWII Museum

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On May 7, 1945, the surrender of Germany was announced, officially ending the European phase of World War II. Allied leaders decided that May 8 would be celebrated as Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day). Join us the first week of May as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of V-E Day with a variety of events.

Upcoming V-E Day Commemorative Events

Wednesday May, 6, 2015
Lunchbox Lecture
Guenter Bischof presents “1945: End of the War in Austria”
H. Mortimer Favrot Orientation Center
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

The Republic of Austria was incorporated into the Third Reich on March 13, 1938, after the invasion by the German Wehrmacht. During World War II Austrians fought in the Wehrmacht, participated in the Holocaust, and suffered from Nazi oppression and Allied bombing. By and large, public opinion in the “Ostmark” supported the Nazi regime to the end of the war. The territory of what would be called Austria again was liberated by the Red Army from the east, American forces from the north, and French forces from the west. On the basis of the Allied Moscow Declaration, the Provisional Renner Government proclaimed the re-establishment of Austria on April 27. Four-power Allied occupation government was finally established in September 1945 and continued until 1955. The road from war to independence seemed interminable for the Austrians. Guenter Bischof presents.

For more information visit us here or call 504-528-1944 x 229.

Thursday, May 7, 2015
General Raymond E. Mason Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series on World War II
“Eisenhower The Liberator: A Panel Discussion” Featuring the Grandchildren of Dwight D. Eisenhower
US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
5:00 pm Reception | 6:00 pm Presentation and Q&A

Join us for an enlightening evening as the grandchildren of General Dwight D. Eisenhower come to discuss their grandfather’s legacy and his experiences during the war.

Moderated by Dr. Keith Huxen, the Museum’s Samuel Zemurray Stone Senior Director of Research and History, the panel will discuss Eisenhower in his role as Supreme Commander and chief amongst the liberators—including his personal encounter with the Holocaust as he inspected the camps at Ohrdruf and Buchenwald. One of Eisenhower’s lasting legacies as leader of the Allied Forces was to force soldiers, civilians, and media to tour the sites themselves in order to have eyewitnesses, written records, and photographic evidence of Holocaust crimes.

To RSVP visit us here or call 504-528-1944 x 412.

Can’t make it to this event? Livestream it.

Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of V-E Day
Friday, May 8, 2015

On May 8, 1945, World War II ended in Europe. While the mood was exuberant in neighborhoods, work places, and with families throughout the country, it was a bittersweet day—war still raged on in the Pacific and many veterans recall that they were being re-assigned to prepare for the invasion of the Japanese mainland.

The Museum will commemorate this important anniversary of World War II with speakers who will recollect receiving the news, footage from newsreels from 1945, and historians reflecting on the meanings and legacies of Victory in Europe.


  • New Orleans Military & Maritime Academy Performance
    US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
    10:30 am – 11:00 am
  • V-E Day Ceremony
    US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
    11:00 am – 12:00 pm

    Ceremony commemorating the end of the war in Europe, featuring reflections of those who remember the events of the day. Panelists are Robert Wolf who served in Germany, Anne Levy who was hiding with her family in Europe, Gene Geisert who was on the Home Front. Led by Bill Detweiler, The National WWII Museum’s Consultant for Military and Veterans Affairs. Can’t make it to the ceremony? Livestream it.
  • Living History Corps and artifacts from the war in Europe
    Battle Barksdale Parade Ground
    All Day

For more information visit us here or call 504-528-1944 x 229.

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