Bedford, VA - The National D-Day Memorial will welcome a host of World War II veterans on Saturday, July 19th from 10am to 5pm during the Memorial's annual Family Day event. Veterans from the 8th Air Force, the 29th Infantry Division, Merchant Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines and other military units will be on hand to talk to visitors throughout the day.
One of those veterans is D-Day paratrooper Norwood Thomas. Thomas joined the U.S. Army in March 1942 and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division where he parachuted into Normandy just 4 miles inland of Utah Beach on 6 June 1942. He rode a Waco CG-4A troop transport glider for a ride into Holland as part of Operation Market Garden and was also at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.
Another veteran with quite a different perspective is that of a German Luftwaffe pilot. Hans Meyer grew up in Brandenburg, Germany and began flying at the age of 14. At 17, he joined the Luftwaffe and was assigned to Fighter Squadron 54 on the Eastern Front. Before age 18, he was credited with five confirms against Russian aircraft. On one mission he was shot down and was captured by the Russians. He escaped to rejoin his unit. He was wounded on his final mission and spent several weeks in the hospital.
Many other veterans will be present on July 19th to discuss their wartime experiences including B-17 gunners, radio operators, Higgins boat drivers, and men who served in the Navy in both the Pacific and European theaters. The public can meet World War II veterans, who will be gathered in the Memorial's education tent, throughout the day. However, each of these veterans will also share their individual stories at specific times during the morning and afternoon. D-Day veterans will speak about their experiences with the public at 10:30am, Iwo Jima Veterans at 11:30am, Bomber crews will speak at 12:30pm, and Hans Meyer will speak at 1:30pm.
The event is part of the larger Family Day event at the Memorial. Dozens of living historians will be on site depicting the wartime era. The event includes artifact displays and more than 25 activity stations, all family-friendly and hands-on. Learn about WWII medics, see the equipment the soldiers carried, shop in a Piggly Wiggly using ration stamps, view period military vehicles, and see a large 1/6 scale model display of the war. Live musical entertainment will occur throughout the day with music by Rick Dellinger, Keith Campbell and others. Performers will sing an array of Jazz standards, Big Band and patriotic music. The lawn concert begins at 11am and ends at 2:30pm.
Food will be available on site. Family Day 2014 is generously sponsored by Woodmen of the World of Virginia. Woodmen of the World Lodges from throughout the state will assist in volunteering during the Family Day event by manning station activities and crafts during the day. Thanks to their generous donation, students 18 and under are free. Adults are $8.00 per person. All proceeds benefit education initiatives at the Memorial. Visit www.dday.org for more information or call (540) 586-3329.