NOTE: Valid Louisiana driver’s license required. Limited to four Museum admissions per guest. Other discounts cannot be used in combination with this promotion. Excludes admissions to Beyond All Boundaries and Final Mission.
As we continue down the Road to Tokyo, and through the China-Burman-India gallery,we stop at our final exhibit of the gallery which will detail the role of the United States Armed Air Forces and their critical assistance in securing Allied success in CBI.
Flying Tigers/Air Power
This exhibit portrays the important role of the USAAF in the China-Burma-India campaign. The exhibit will discuss the successes they had against Japanese air attacks early in the war, and how the 10th AF provided critical transport and air support to British, Chinese, and American forces while conducting raids against key Japanese targets in Southeast Asia. This exhibit will also tell the detailed story of the famous P-40 Flying Tigers. Created under authority of the U.S. government, the Flying Tigers were the most successful Allied fighter squadron in the Pacific at the time, flying under contract with the Chinese government and using a warning network and unorthodox combat tactics. Finally, the exhibit will unveil the history of the “Aluminum Trail,” the air route over Himalayas, which acted as the only means to ferry men and supplies into China.
WWII Veteran being greeted by a youth baseball team upon arrival to New Orleans.
On June 24, an honor flight of 50 WWII veterans arrived in New Orleans to a hero’s welcome, kicking off three red carpet days in New Orleans. Along with the trip’s sponsor, Gary Sinise, the veterans were greeted with jazz music, Mardi Gras beads, and throngs of cheering supporters including members of the Armed Forces and youth baseball teams. It was a headline moment in the Soaring Valor initiative, launched earlier this year by the Gary Sinise Foundation and the Museum with American Airlines, and designed to bring veterans—and their stories—to The National WWII Museum.
All 50 veterans now have their wartime stories recorded as part of the Museum’s oral-history collection, which the initiative also supports through sponsorship of an oral-historian post at the Museum as well as funds to send historians to those veterans who cannot travel. This support helps the Museum accelerate its work to collect as many oral histories as possible—a mission that increases in urgency with each passing year. According to Museum president and CEO Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, PhD, “Every time we lose a veteran, it’s like losing a library. All of those memories and firsthand experiences are gone.”
For Sinise, that mission touches a personal chord: “My uncle Jack was a navigator on a B-17 Flying Fortress, flying 30 missions over Europe. He was a true inspiration in my life. When he passed away last year at the age of 90, it was comforting to know that his story was part of the Museum’s oral-history collection, and that he had the opportunity to visit such a remarkable institution. I think other families deserve that, and through our educational program at the Gary Sinise Foundation, I’m thrilled to help make it happen for some of them.”
This June, Soaring Valor brought that experience to 50 veterans, whose presence honored our campus, and whose visit left a deep impression on all involved. As he departed with tears in his eyes, Cruz Sartuche, a 99-year-old Navy veteran, said, “Never in my life have I experienced such a welcome. This is the welcome I wish I got when I came home. I could pass tomorrow in comfort knowing this Museum is here for all to see.”
Louisiana National Guard Staff Sergeant Patrick Stephen already was fond of The National WWII Museum on Andrew Higgins Boulevard, having visited repeatedly, when Hurricane Katrina struck the city a decade ago, ushering in a time of misery and chaos.
That sentiment – an appreciation for the Museum’s mission – surfaced in a forceful way a few weeks after Katrina made landfall, when Stephen, part of an Army Guard unit protecting the Morial Convention Center and storm victims gathered there, noticed a smattering of individuals wearing fresh t-shirts from the institution then known as The National D-Day Museum. “I knew it was a problem,” he recalls.
Stephen got clearance from a superior to briefly leave his post. He gathered six other guardsmen, said, “We’re going to go on a mission,” and the group piled into two Humvees and headed toward the Museum several blocks away. As they pulled up, they noticed that a falling telephone pole had collapsed a wall of the Museum’s gift shop. A small crowd had gained entry to the store and looting was in full swing.
The guardsmen quickly dispersed the looters and secured the shop. One episode of mayhem was halted. And later, Stephen kept an eye on the Museum from his assigned zone at the convention center, watching the street corridor for any new signs of trouble.
Stephen isn’t eager to summon memories of harrowing scenes that his 239th Military Police Company faced as it helped restore order in a devastated city. But the episode at America’s WWII museum holds special meaning, for the part-time guardsman now serves proudly as one of the Museum’s traveling oral historians.
It is a dream job for Stephen, 37, who graduated from a history master’s program at the University of New Orleans. His work with the Museum began in June.
Traveling to three states, Stephen has already logged more than 40 oral history interviews, part of a concerted effort by the Museum to add to its collection of more than 7,000 personal accounts from the war. The recording of these stories is foundational to the institution’s mission, building on interviews conducted by Stephen Ambrose decades ago.
“I believe in the Museum,” Patrick Stephen said. “If I believe in it, it’s easy for me to go on the road (and meet with veterans). I don’t even have to sell them – I just tell them about the Museum, and they can see my conviction.”
A native of Gainesville, Florida, Stephen has periodically served on active duty with the Army since the late 1990s, including a tour of Kuwait and Afghanistan. Still affiliated with the Louisiana Guard, he now is a 1st lieutenant serving as a military intelligence officer.
Stephen said an internship at the Museum in 2013, during which he gathered information on the Museum’s WWII veteran volunteers, convinced him it was the place to seek a position after grad school. He now enjoys running into ranking Army officers he has known from past tours, who are quick to say, “Tell me about this awesome job you have.”
Pfc. Edeleanu prints news bulletin on bulletin board outside Intelligence tent of Kyaukpyu Camo the day before OSS, AFU, and departure via convoy for Rangoon.
As we continue down the Road to Tokyo, and through the China-Burman-India gallery, we stop next at two exhibit spaces detailing the military efforts to keep China in the war as well as discussing the importance of Sino-American Cooperative Organization and the Office of Strategic Services during the first years of the war in the Pacific.
This exhibit will tell the story of the critical logistical and military efforts made by the Allies to keep China in the war. This includes support for the Kuomintang government within a divided China, and General Stilwell’s pivotal role in dealing with the political challenges encountered in Nationalist China.
Keeping China in the war against Japan was essential for the success of the United States in the Pacific Theater. Allowing Japan to reap the benefits of Chinese resources could have been potentially hazardous to the war effort in the Pacific. General Joseph Stilwell entered the region in 1942 and worked to coordinate the Chinese and US efforts on the ground. The 10th, 14th, and 20th Air Forces all had units in the area to help with the effort. Operation Ichi-Go, carried out by the Japanese was a successful attack and seizure of multiple US Air bases in China.
Lacking the major battles of the European and Pacific theaters, the China-Burma-India campaign’s importance lay in keeping the Japanese from further expanding their empire. China was the next domino to fall to Japan, and that could have made it more difficult for American forces in the Pacific.
This exhibit will describe the Sino-American Cooperative Organization and the Office of Strategic Services during the first years of the war. By attaching to the 14th Air Force, OSS expanded intelligence gathering, set up networks behind enemy lines, conducted “black propaganda,” and provided Chennault with target data and pilot rescue service. The exhibit closes with a personal story on General Johnny Alison.
The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was important to the success of Allied military operations in the China Burma India Theater. The OSS activated a special branch for military operations called Detachment 101. Detachment 101 authorized behind the lines covert action against Japanese forces in Burma and in China. General Stilwell’s Chinese forces were able to take advantage of covert resources, as well as Wingate’s Raider. Merrill’s Marauders took advantage of covert intelligence, the knowledge they ascertained was critical because it allowed them to conduct their missions successfully. The OSS also helped facilitate different local guerilla groups that were against Japanese expansion. The OSS’s was critical to success in the China Burma India Theater because it allowed for Allied forces to coordinate in an unconventional way. As a result of the terrain and the Japanese ability to remain undetected, covert activities were essential in intelligence gathering. Covert intelligence also helped in rescuing downed US Airmen in the area.
This fall, the Museum is debuting a brand new student program in partnership with WYES-TV, an interactive Electronic Field Trip about the American Home Front. In “We’re All in this Together! How Students Like YOU Helped Win WWII,” students will be able to see themselves during this critical part of our history, forming important connections with the past.
Today’s students embark on a mission with Museum volunteers who were students during the war years as their trusty guides. Together, they explore the Museum and examine how even the youngest Americans made a difference in aiding the war effort. The war shaped their lives in fundamental ways—what they ate, how they dressed, what they read in their comic books, heard on the radio, and saw at the movies, and even what they learned and did in school. From collecting scrap, rationing, to growing Victory Gardens in their backyards, and buying war stamps with their allowance, even those who were too young to work or serve in the military certainly did their part.
We have been filming some segments in preparation for the live show later this fall all across the Museum. Marveling at materials needed to build tanks and planes in the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, learning the popular dance moves of the time from the Victory Belles, and discovering why some pennies were made out of steel during the war, are just a couple of the fun-filled moments we’ve captured so far.
Museum volunteer Jim Bryant and student actor Miguel marvel how 18 tons of scrap were needed to make the Sherman tank behind them.
Museum volunteer Joyce Dunn shares with student actor Chris how she rationed and conserved materials during the war.
Victory Belles Cristina, Shelbie, and Mandi, fresh off of their performance of "America's Wartime Sweethearts: A Tribute to the Andrews Sisters" chat with student actress Caroline and Museum volunteer Sylvia Murphy about WWII entertainment.
Teachers, mark your calendars! The live show, which you can view right from your classroom computer, will launch on Wednesday, November 4th. If your students feel inspired by what they see in the Electronic Field Trip, your classroom can sign up for the Museum’s service learning project, Get in the Scrap! With the support of the Museum and an easy-to-follow project toolkit, your classroom can be a part of this national recycling and conservation effort, and even earn cool prizes.
Stay tuned–many more details to come!
Post by Chrissy Gregg, Virtual Classroom Coordinator
As we continue to travel down the Road to Tokyo and out of the Island Hopping gallery, visitors will stop next at the China-Burma-India gallery, which details the important campaign led by the Allies to prohibit the Japanese from further expanding their empire.
The China-Burma-India gallery provides an overview of the campaign to halt Japan’s determined western advance within China, Burma, and India from 1937-1942. The gallery will explore the tactics used by the Allies to stop the Japanese from controlling these countries, including keeping China in the war, the important role of pilots and air power, as well as an overview of Special Forces operations, including those involving the Office of Strategic Services.
The gallery will feature rare artifacts, exhibits and interactive elements. Exhibits will explore the collaboration between Chinese and American military leadership and present the major developments in the planning of air attacks in difficult environmental conditions.
The gallery will feature four exhibits that will use immersive environments, rare artifacts, and interactive elements to captivate and educate visitors about this important, and often untold, story of the Pacific war. The exhibits include Strategic Importance of CBI, Logistics, Raiders and Covert Ops, and Flying Tigers/Air Power.
Chinese infantry division soldiers marching in China in July 1945
Strategic Importance of CBI
This exhibit will provide an overview of Japan’s early advances in the CBI theater and the Allied campaign to limit further expansion. Events highlighted within the exhibit include discussion of the Chinese forces under General Stilwell fight in Burma, the retreat to India, the closure of Burma Road, and the Chinese army and guerrilla units’ five-year struggle against the Japanese in mainland China. The exhibit also highlights the importance of China’s role in the war. The majority of Japanese army strength was occupied in China, and American air power in China was a key strategy in 1942-43.
The Strategic Importance of CBI has been made possible through a generous gift by the Brees Family in honor of Col. Eugene W. Brees II, US Army.
Joy and Boysie Bollinger
Donor Spotlight: Joy and Boysie Bollinger
The China-Burma-India gallery has been made possible through a generous gift by Joy and Boysie Bollinger.
Twenty years after first becoming involved with The National WWII Museum, Boysie Bollinger remains tireless in his support. 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. 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!”
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.
Bollinger’s passion for the Museum is easily noted through his unwavering commitment to telling the story of the Greatest Generation. Bollinger states “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.”
7th Infantry division soldiers helping local population for eventual evacuation off island on Kwajalein in February 1944
As we continue down the Road to Tokyo and through the last half of the Island Hopping gallery, we come upon two exhibit spaces detailing the invasions of the Marshall and Marianas Islands, which brought Allied forces one step closer to victory in the Pacific.
Marshall Islands Campaign
This exhibit will detail the major events and importance of the invasion of the Marshall Islands and Truk, including Kwajalein Island, which were critical to penetrating Japan’s “Outer Ring” of defenses. The Japanese were quick to learn how to reinforce their beach defenses, and subsequently, island invasions grew more costly to the US. Countering this, the US submarine force responded dramatically with increasing numbers and efficiency in their attacks. US subs began destroying large numbers of Japanese merchant ships, troop transports, and warships, effectively harming the enemy’s industry and war effort.
Pilots and crewman aboard a U.S. Navy carrier cheer as guns strike a smashing blow to a Japanese plane in the Marianas on 22 February 1944
In the Marianas exhibit, visitors will learn of the critical campaign in 1944 to take the Marianas Islands away from the Japanese. Key battles discussed within the exhibit including the amphibious invasion of Saipan, the destructive naval Battle of the Philippine Sea, and fighting for Guam and Tinian. The strategic value of the Marianas will be dramatically displayed, as the Americans used these islands as air bases to strike and wreak devastation through B-29 attacks directly on mainland Japan. In addition, the exhibit will document the role and success of Native American code-talkers on Saipan.
Stay tuned next week as we enter into the China-Burma-India gallery.
As we continue down the Road to Tokyo and through the Island Hopping gallery, we come next to the Tarwara exhibit, which tell of the first major operation of Central Pacific war. The operation involved U.S. forces invading the Gilbert Islands in order to secure airstrips, with the main target being the Tarawa Atoll.
The operation consisted of airstrikes, naval bombardment, and, most remarkably, the first widespread use of the amphibious Landing Vehicle Tracked to breach coral reefs – a strategy that was not expected by Japanese. The operation, however, resulted in heavy casualties, as the US had difficulty overcoming Japanese defenses and experienced limited success with air and sea bombardment. Victory was ultimately achieved, though the high cost of the invasion stirred controversy. Tarawa was a harbinger of things to come in Central Pacific fighting.
The Island Hopping gallery within Road to Tokyo has been made possible through a generous gift by the James S. McDonnell Family Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. James S. McDonnell III.
Donor Spotlight: Mr. and Mrs. James S. McDonnell III
James and Elizabeth McDonnell have had a great interest in the Pacific Theater of World War II. In particular, Elizabeth McDonnell’s father, John M. Hall, served in the war in the U.S. Navy on an LST in the South Pacific. James’s uncle served with the U.S. Army Medical Corps, was stationed in Fiji and participated in the Okinawa campaign. James also had a first cousin who fought in the war in General Patton’s 3rd Army in Europe as well as several other relatives in the U.S. Army and Navy during WWII.
James comes from a long and proud history of military industrial production! His father, James Smith McDonnell, Jr., an American aviator and engineer, founded the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation in 1939 in St. Louis, MO. During WWII, business expanded exponentially, with around 400 employees in 1941 and more than 5,000 during peak wartime production. During the war, McDonnell Aircraft manufactured 7 million pounds of aircraft parts, including tails and engine cowlings for Boeing bombers and Douglas transports.
The McDonnells first became involved with The National WWII Museum through meeting Hugh Ambrose, son of founder Stephen Ambrose and a member of the Museum’s Institutional Advancement department. As a result of the meeting with Hugh, the McDonnells participated in the Museum’s Pacific Battles Tour in February 2011. Since that intial trip, the couple has traveled on both the Museum’s D-Day 70th Anniversary Cruise and the Masters of the Air Tour.
Aside from their participation in the Museum’s educational tours, the McDonnells chose to make a very generous gift to the Museum’s Road to Victory Capital Campaign in 2011. James states that they chose to name this gallery space because while “everyone knows about D-Day in Normandy, in the Pacific there were 126 opposed D-Days, all of which were important in winning the war against Japan.” He and Elizabeth strongly believe that the importance of World War II is a story that must be told and preserved. James states, “WWII saved the world. Its history should be preserved so that future generations will appreciate the accomplishments and sacrifices made by our troops of all services.” The National WWII Museum is thankful for James and Elizabeth McDonnell and the McDonnell Family Foundation for their outstanding role in fulfilling the Museum’s essential mission of sharing the stories of the Greatest Generation with new audiences.
As we continue down the Road to Tokyo and through the Island Hopping gallery, which will detail the incredible amphibious landings made by Allied forces as they engaged in efforts to clear the Japanese resistance from the Aleutians, through New Guinea, and the outer rings of the Gilbert, Marshall, and Marianas island chains. Throughout, the exhibits will communicate both the broad strategic complexity of the island hopping campaign and the individual bravery and leadership of the service members who took part in it.
The first exhibit within the gallery is Strategic Overview, which will give a detailed overview of the major events of the post-Guadalcanal Island Hopping Campaign and the importance of the Air War in the Central Pacific. Island hopping was an innovative American military strategy in the Pacific. It created the pathway for American forces to close the vast distances of the Pacific and bring the war to Japan itself. Visitors will learn about the intelligence planning that orchestrated these island invasions and the brutal fighting and challenges which American forces met on the Road to Tokyo.
A Douglas R4D bomber on the airfield at Majuro Island, a tiny atoll near Kwajalein in the Marshalls in May 1944.
Following Strategic Overview, the New Guinea exhibit will explore the arduous battle through New Guinea’s jungles as the Allies counterattacked the Japanese and secured key points along the island’s northern coast. Initially making little progress, Australian and American forces gradually advanced with breakthroughs at Buna, Gona, and Sanananda, as well as the destruction of Japanese forces in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea. Visitors will discover the significance of New Guinea as a catalyst for the Island Hopping campaign.
Next week, we explore the remaining exhibits within the Island Hopping gallery.
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.