Friday, July 5, 2013

fkd Visits the Nation World War II Museum in New Orleans

For the 4th of July, my wonderful wife took me to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans (ok ok, we also hit Bourbon Street!).  I walk in, and I'm like a kid in a candy shop as I see:

A Rolls-Royce Merlin Engine.  I tell the wife, "...that's a Merlin!"  An elderly guide hears me and goes, "look up."  I do, and see a Perfect Spitfire hovering above me.  I start taking pics of both like a paparazzi photographing Bradjolina....

Not far away ... omg! I see it!  The legendary German 88mm.  Beneath it, two MG-34s!  I begin rattling off history to my wife, as I had over the Merlin and Spitfire!  (She's a good wife, she smiles at me).  A hipster walks up to the area containing the 88 and the MG-34s, looks at the German motorcycle and begins telling his girlfriend how he could fix that up!  Dude, you're standing feet from the gun that made history in North Africa, and to the ancestor to the MG-42.  I continue to snap pictures as he explains to her how he would fit her on the bike.  He doesn't once acknowledege the 88 or the MG-34.  /facepalm

The museum did an incredible job of laying-out the entire war, from it's gestation in Asia circa early 1930s, through until the end, and in both theaters.  As we toured, I watched my wife go off on her own reading the descriptions, watching the mini-videos.  She would come to me and ask questions, asked about my Grandfather on my Dad's side who fought in the Pacific, and my Mother's Dad who fought in the 4th "Ivy" Division -- which was featured in the Western theater section, with an entire billboard of pictures and descriptions.  She said many times: "it's amazing you're here."

Thanks to those men, I am.

And yes, I stood feet from the almost mythical Sturmgewehr 44 -- the first, ever, assault rifle in history.  I have to say, it moved me even more than the Merlin or the 88.

As we left, two elderly guides were near the end of the tour.  My wife went over and talked to them on her own -- now fully knowing my Grandfather's Division -- the 4th "Ivy."  She calls me over.  They tell me, "he would've landed on Utah."  "Yes." I said, "That's what I've read."  "Well, go out this door, see that?"  And they pointed at this hunk of concrete.  "You're Grandfather and that slab of concrete met on 6/6/1944.  That was brought over from Utah beach.  If you look on the top of it, you can see a German Soldier's boot print, and the hobnails too.  He walked on it before it finally hardened, the imprint is forever set in it now."

So, in the end, I got to see a piece of the beach defenses my Grandfather stormed, along with his troop -- most of whom died on D-Day.

Wife in foreground, German 88 in background

Front of 88

88 description and info

The incredible Rolls-Royce Merlin

Two MG-34s

Supermarine Spitfire

The Sturmgewehr 44 ... legendary drop

Steel-reinforced concrete from Utah beach, Normandy

The bootprint of an unknown German soldier, circa early 1940s, on the slab of concrete above

The full album along with pictures of a fully restore B-17 can be found here.

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