World War II D-Day Landing & French Village Exhibit
The World War II D-Day Landing and French Village Exhibit at the Armed Forces History Museum allows you to view a full-sized diorama of soldiers on the beach. The voice of Colonel Leonard T. Schroeder, the first man to step foot on Utah Beach, can be heard as you enter this area of the museum. Alongside this diorama is a display case dedicated to Colonel Schroeder, who lived in the Largo, FL area prior to his passing in 2009. Schroeder, a 25-year-old captain at the time of the invasion, donated a number of personal items to the museum including the actual uniform and boots he wore early that morning in June of 1944.
Flanking the D-Day Landing, you walk the war-torn cobblestone streets of a recreated, battered French Village and a small replica of the Sainte-Mere-Eglise church. The museum also honors the heroic action of the paratroopers that were a part of the Normandy invasion with Paratrooper Private Steele hanging from the church steeple as he did for two hours that morning to escape certain death. Additional display cases in this area house rarely seem memorabilia such as a WWII Army Tanker standard issue helmet with radio plug and goggles, a US Army landmine, WWII Coax telescope for a tank destroyer and a field radio receiver. A M3A1 Halftrack, an M16 Halftrack and a 1942 Harley Davidson Motorcycle are also part of the D-Day Exhibit. As you leave the D-Day/Normandy Exhibit area, French soldiers are heard in the distance as shots are fired from the upcoming German Farmhouse Exhibit.