On this Pearl Harbor Day, I’m surrounded by history at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana.
This world-class museum is sure to provide a moving experience, whether it’s a first-time visit or especially if you have the honor of accompanying a veteran.
Located on a six-acre campus in downtown, the museum was designated by Congress as the official WWII museum of the United States. Sprawling exhibits, multimedia and dinner theaters, restaurants, and classroom and event space are housed in five pavilions.
Originally opened on June 6, 2000 as the National D-Day Museum, more than 200-thousand people were in attendance.
Today, its collections contain 250,000 artifacts and over 9,000 personal accounts.
TripAdvisor ranks this as the number two museum in the world.
We developed a personal connection with this era in history by learning about the sacrifices of so many American men and women, not just those on the front lines of combat.
My grandfather, Sergeant Olaf P. Shreve served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific Theater during the war.
Assigned to Marine Bombing Squadron 423, Marine Aircraft Group 61, First Marine Aircraft Wing, he left the U.S. on December 14, 1944 for the South Pacific.
The ‘Seahorse’ Marines were stationed in the South Pacific, flying missions in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
Among the citations he received for his service, was a Gold Star in lieu of a second air medal, awarded by the Secretary of the Navy on behalf of the President of the United States.
“For meritorious achievement in aerial flight while service as Radio Gunner of a Bomber Plane in Marine Bomber Squadron 423 during operations against enemy Japanese forces in the Bismarck Archipelago Area, from 7 to 26 March 1945. Completing his tenth mission during this period, Corporal Shreve contributed materially to the success of his plane in bombing enemy positions. His courage and devotion to duty in the face of enemy opposition were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”
My grandfather served as a radio operator/waist gunner on a North American Aviation PBJ-1 Mitchell bomber. Each carrying a crew of five, the land-based aircraft collectively completed hundreds of patrol bombing missions in the region until the squadron was deactivated on November 30, 1945, after the conclusion of the war.
Throughout my grandfather’s life, it was abundantly evident how his service in the Marine Corps shaped his world view. He often spoke of lifelong friendships and values distilled by his training.
While I am still researching specific details of his service, visiting the National World War II Museum provided a broader context for his personal story.
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